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Thursday, November 14, 2013

You planning ahead?

Integrity is the state of walking by the highest moral code, allowing it to affect your every action and reaction.  There is a condition known as having "double standards" - the state in which the situation dictates the action or reaction.  Most of us would not want to admit we live this way more than we might like - often choosing the action or reaction based on some way of feeling rather than pre-planning our response.  Let me be the first to tell you - to get the right response with any consistency requires some "pre-planning" on our parts.  We have to know what it is we to do, practice it until it becomes a "patterned behavior" in our lives, and then consistently apply the standard to the situation as it arises.  As long as we are aimless, allowing the situation to dictate our standards, we will not have integrity - our thoughts and actions will be kind of disjointed.  God's plan is for us to learn "up front" how to respond or react in the circumstance, trust him to be with us in the times we will be in the midst of the circumstance, and then consistently apply what we have learned "outside" the circumstance.

Get good advice and you will succeed; don't go charging into battle without a plan.  The Lord has determined our path; how then can anyone understand the direction his own life is taking?  (Proverbs 20:18, 24 GNT)

Double-minded individuals lack this integrity.  They cannot "zero in on" any one way of responding with any consistency.  Their plan is to let life unfold and then to figure out how to deal with it.  Can anyone see the danger in this "plan"?  Double standards are really a form of playing the part of the hypocrite. The worst place to find yourself is caught between two standards and not be certain about which one you "stand for".  The conduct we exhibit most frequently is what reveals the real nature of our heart and intentions.  

There is conduct becoming the man or woman of God, but it must be learned. We stop just short of practicing what we learn - making learning nothing more than "head level".  For learning to become practical, it must move from head to heart.  Life is full of lessons which serve to "hone" our conduct - but until we actually begin to allow the "honing" process, we will respond with haphazard actions / reactions.  Part of learning is developing a plan - we just don't head off without one.

Maybe this seems a little too elementary to some, and a little too "regimented" to others, but hear me out.  As long as we step out without a plan, we can count on the circumstances dictating our response.  For example, if you want to lose weight, you plan your meals, don't you?  There are some other steps you put in place, as well - such as clearing the pantry shelves of all those high-calorie treats and avoiding the bakery counter while at the local market.  You have a plan and you work your plan.

Life's issues and circumstances aren't handled in a way which is too dissimilar to this "planning" and "working the plan" cycle.  When we know certain "triggering" events send us into a tizzy, isn't it the wise thing to "plan" our response in advance of the event so we might just have a better chance of not "reacting" to the triggering event in a manner which takes us down a tangent we'd rather not explore?  We limit the influence the "trigger" has on us by our pre-planning of our response.

This is all integrity really is - the putting into practical application the standards by which we plan to live by and then continually "working the plan". This is where we often fall short, though.  It isn't in the planning stage, it is in the "working" stage.  We fail to work the plan - relying instead upon the emotions which play into the triggering events.  Do you know the best way to understand the road you travel?  It is by getting to know the one who navigates and prepares the road for us.  

The more we draw closer to God, the better we understand how to deal with the things on the road we are travelling.  After all, he prepared us for the road we are on - we just have to understand how he did this preparation, then put what we know into practice as we travel it.  Most of us resist the "pre-planning" phase in life because it seems a little too much like we are trying to "sway the outcome" or just plain control the circumstances.  On the contrary - we are trying to ensure the circumstances don't control us!  

This is all God really hopes of us anyway.  He doesn't hold us to a standard of never failing - he holds us to a standard of applying what we know to the best of our ability and then trusting him with the rest.  Just sayin!