Live the List: Spiritual Journey or Egotistical Voyage?

I’ve decided that the development of the “Live the List” initiative is like walking a tight rope. I’m trying to take one of the most egocentric exercises – creating a life list – and turning it into a spiritual journey.

I constantly ask myself, in a very animated whisper:

“Is this possible?”

The volume on this rhetorical question recently got turned up several decibels when I agreed to teach a month-long Bible study about “Live the List.” The request came out of the clear-blue sky, and I jumped at the opportunity.

I’m glad I did.

I never dreamt how beneficial the lesson planning would be for the entire “Live the List” concept. I’ve been forced to ask myself some very hard questions that start with: “Can you live a bold and adventurous life while honoring God?”

I’ve been inspired to have in-depth conversations with family and friends, and I’ve been reading anything and everything that I can get my hands on. Needless to say, I’ve done a lot of praying, asking for guidance and wisdom.

The verdict: I better have a safety net under this tight rope.

So….I’ve decided to turn my upcoming Bible study, which is scheduled for October, into an open discussion. I refuse to pretend to have all the answers, and I think this is the perfect opportunity to let God guide this project.

Without issuing a spoiler alert and/or ruining the Bible study before it even starts, I’d like to start the discussion NOW. I wanted to present some of the rational that I’m working through and get your feedback.

Am I fishing for comments? YES!

Am I begging for responses? GUILTY!

I want to figure out if “Live the List” can be a gigantic thank you note to God. (Or is it just a self-absorbed To Do List?)

I want YOUR help to figure that out.

_ _ _

Motivation is the key element to this discussion.

What is the driving force?

What are our motives?

Obviously, this line of questioning can be applied to our jobs and our lifestyle choices.

Why do we work as long and hard as we do?

Why do we drive this type of car and/or live in this particular house?

Why do we workout?

If we wanted to, we can even examine our motivation for going to church on Sunday mornings.

When I used to volunteer at the homeless shelter on a regular basis, I was constantly doing self-evaluation from time to time, asking myself: “Why the heck am I doing this?”

Even trivial things, like updating our Facebook status, can be have an “ugly answer” to that question.

Why do we do what we do? What is our motivation?

Obviously, to keep life lists from being a “road map to a narcissistic life,”  we have to ask ourselves these questions. I recently read that making a bucket list was the most selfish thing that a person can do.

I totally get it, BUT what if we created life lists that were built on gratefulness and the end result was relational joy? Would that be enough to make a fun and unique way of attacking life more of a spiritual journey?

That’s the million-dollar question!

Since creating my first life list – 101 things that I wanted to accomplish in 1,001 days – I’ve said that I was going to treat this like a gigantic thank you note to God. I feel extremely blessed to be where I am today, from my family and health to my professional freedom.

Am I rich? I am. (Unless you’re talking about money.)

Am I content and happy? Without a doubt.

Am I bored? Nope.

Do I have regrets? Not a single one.

I have God to thank for all of this, and I’ve decided that sitting around and doing nothing is a terrible way to express my gratefulness. I feel like not pushing myself, not trying new things and/or embracing the status quo is slighting God.

I’ve decided that chasing my dreams – no matter how silly they are – is a tremendous way to thank God for where I am in my life.

To maintain this perspective, I try to say a small prayer before marking something off my list. It reminds me that He has given me the opportunity to live a bold and adventurous life.

You prayed before playing paintball?

Yept.

You said a prayer before getting your shoes shined?

I actually did.

Will you pray before you go skydiving?

Duh.

I feel like gratefulness is just the beginning of this spiritual journey, though. Reminder: When you “live the list,” it’s not just about marking things off your life list. It’s about embracing other people’s goals, dreams and aspirations – helping them mark something off their list.

It’s embracing God’s call to action to put Him first and others second.

As the concept for “Live the List” started to develop, I was introduced to the faith-based concept of “relational joy,” which focuses on laying up eternal treasures in heaven. I learned that those eternal treasures revolved around the people we spiritually touch during our lifetime.

It provided clarity and direction for this project.

One of my mentors wrote: “The person who is saved will surely be full of joy in heaven. He will not envy anyone and will be delighted in every celebration of God’s amazing grace. But, the person who has poured his life into others, will experience those celebrations with the delight of someone who was privileged to partner in that gracious work of God. Such personal investment enlarges our capacity for joy both now and forever.”

Before being introduced to this amazing way of honoring God, I was focused on the short-term rewards – ones that only last during this lifetime. I thought the blessings that I was spreading now, were the most important thing.

As my mentor explained: “This life is just a blink in relation to eternity.”

I quickly realized how short-sited I was being. I also recognized the potential magnitude of helping other people “live the list.”

I now see this opportunity as a way to help other people write their thank you note to God – one life list task at a time – and inspiring them to start putting others before themselves.

As I was finishing up this post, I stumbled on this amazing text from former NFL coach Tony Dungy. It was almost like God was talking to me through Coach Dungy, a man of tremendous faith. This guidance gave me the courage to keep moving forward.

“If you have the option of painting a picture of your life, why not make it a good one? Envision your future, your accomplishment and achievements, and your God-given-significance. Based I on what you know to be true, of course, not on your own sense of pride or unhealthy ways to satisfy your needs. But within the values and dreams God has given you to accomplish. Expect good and pursue it rather than simply going through life without a plan and seeing whatever happens.”

– – –

While Coach Dungy’s words have temporarily stoked the fire – tomorrow, I’ll find something that refers to life lists as “egomaniacal,” and the tight rope will start to wobble.

I would still love your help and feedback.

Am I completely missing the mark?

Am I cramming a square peg in an extremely round hole?

Does this have potential?

Do I need to leave God out of this discussion all together? Or do I need to take it even further?

Thanks in advance for being a part of this journey.

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