How To Get What You Really Want Part 3: Last Things First
On Sunday 14th January at our morning service, we continued our series 'How To Get What You Really Want' with the topic Don't Be Deceived. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to this, click here.
As we’ve been going through this series I have to say it’s made me think again about some of the things I would say I kind of hanker for – things I’d put on my wish list, as it were! There’s a particular guitar, a lovely sportscar and oddly enough a big woofy dog!
But although I want those things and maybe there’ll come a time when I can justify acquiring them, right now there are things I value more than I want them. I value not having to worry about finding the money for the guitar, not going into debt for the car, I value having the freedom to go out or go on holiday without worrying about the dog. I could, I suppose, stop giving to the church and thus make the guitar or even loan payments for the car affordable but I value integrity more than I want the guitar or the car. As for the dog, my wife is not so keen on having a massive slobbery dog in the house and I certainly value my marriage and my life, frankly, more than I want the dog!
What we say we want drags us away from what we really value. Regret starts with wishing we didn’t get what we thought we wanted at the time… because now we know better. We say we want it NOW but later we may think differently.
The apostle Paul put it this way:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans chapter 7 verse 15 NIVUK)
When we really spend time thinking it through, we find that what we say we want drags us away from what we really value.
So perhaps the better question is not “what do you really want?” but “what do you really value?” What we naturally want often conflicts internally with what we ultimately value.
Imagine you could listen in on your own funeral and hear the eulogy being read, and hear what people had to say afterwards too.
Think about what you would like to hear people to say about you. What kind of character, achievements, memories would you wish to hear about from your spouse, children, friends? The answer to this defines for you what success looks like, what’s most valuable to you – what your values really are.
Chances are your values will trump any accomplishments or possessions. So what is most valuable to you? Do the eulogy exercise – what would like to hear said about you? - and find out… or you may never know, and just bumble along your whole life. In your own private time when you’re reflecting on what you really want, weave this question in too… what does God really want for you?
Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father…” So what does a good parent really want for their children? Note that’s for them, not from them. Your heavenly Father wants something for you, not from you. God doesn’t want us to be unhappy or unfulfilled. You may find – if you do the “eulogy” exercise, that what you really want matches up with what God wants for you. And what is that? The apostle Paul writes about some of the things we can expect when we invite and allow God’s Spirit to be in control!
He doesn’t want us to be slaves, so he doesn’t force us to surrender to him. But your heavenly Father wants you to have these things. I’ll get on and read them to you in a minute but when I do I think you’ll find yourself agreeing that yes – these are the thing I really want (I know I did!).
Jesus’s close friends John quotes Jesus saying “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” That’s what is available to us when we follow Jesus and stay in step with the Spirit. A rich and satisfying life!
Paul writes about some of the “things” that mark out what a rich and satisfying life looks and feels like. You can read this by clicking here.
Try narrowing down those things you would have people say about you into just a few words and write them down. I bet if you really do this, you’ll find a lot of common ground with Paul’s list: Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
We may well still fail to always succeed in meeting those values – but we can still own the failures and recognise them. Furthermore, we can confidently ask God for those things – because when we ask for those kinds of things and specifically when we ask the Spirit to come and lead our lives and thus lead us to those things – we ask what? We ask rightly, not wrongly. We ask with right motives, not wrong motives.
What if all the time, money and energy we spend on the things we say we want were spent investing in the things we really value? Our friends, our children, our church, our walk with God? The fruits of the Spirit are valuable to us – we know because those are the things we want our spouse, children and friends and parents and co-workers to be characterised by. And what we want people at our funeral to say we are characterised by.
Our heavenly Father wants to take us where we want to go, really.
So… what do you value? When you discover what you really value, you never need settle for what you merely want.
Don’t be surprised if it matches up with the will of your heavenly Father.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. Think about the things you naturally want. What are the values that trump these wants?
2. What are some of the things you’d like your friends, family and people who encounter you to say at your funeral?
3. What can you do NOW to make those things true?
4. Imagine you’re 100 years old and your beloved great great grandchild comes and says to you: “Before you go… tell me what I should do with my life?” What would you tell them?
5. How does your life now match up with your answer above? What can you talk to God about around this?
6. What tempts you to be dragged away into wordly “wants” and away from your values? Pray that God will deliver you from evil and lead you away from temptation (rather than praying or just wishing you were stronger to resist your particular temptations, pray that those things don’t even tempt you anymore – that’s what being delivered of them means!).
7. Where and when will you take the time to write down those values, that eulogy list, that advice to your grandchild? Or will you just bumble along?