I’m excited to introduce you to another friend, Shawn Bolz, this week.
Shawn is acclaimed for his accuracy in his prophetic gift and also crucially, for his humility and honesty of lifestyle.
Today on the blog, he’s sharing about how presence is critical to creating a meaningful & fulfilling life.
Enjoy and hope it helps!
I was in a conversation with my wife. She was dreaming for us. It was an awesome moment where her vulnerability to imagine our future was fully open, and she was so present.
The problem was, I wasn’t. I had some big opportunities fighting for my attention as well as some current problems that needed solving, and my mind wasn’t allowing me to put them aside. Should I take this new opportunity that would lead me to travel more than usual? And what about the concerns in our current ministry, our relatively new business, and some of our family circumstances? What about our financial worries? And my back ache?
I allowed myself to fragment my attention in about 6 areas, not fully focused on any of them and thus, sacrificing the moment I was currently in.
My wife, Cherie, could feel it—so she called me out.
“Are you listening?”
Those are the worst words someone you love could ask you because it means you haven’t created a safe listening space. It’s proof that you aren’t connected to the moment.
Jesus said, in a very clear way, in John 10:10, “I have come to give you a ridiculous abundance of life.” Or in the Message version, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
Getting the benefit of living a better life than you ever dreamed of only comes when you feel connected to goals, priorities, and personal identity. It comes when you learn how to prioritize your time and energy to protect the boundaries of those who you’re primarily called to spend time with, along with the things that you were made to do.
Presence is crucial to creating a meaningful life.
I remember spending time with a person of extreme wealth who seemed to be doing everything well. I asked him, “What is the secret to your success?” which I’m sure he gets asked about frequently. He surprised me with the simplicity of his answer: “I set simple goals and priorities, and live protecting those goals and relationships at all costs.
In Matthew 5:8, it says, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
It was such a simple word of advice, but for someone like me who had a problem keeping goals in focus or saying no to good things, it changed everything.
He not only noted the importance of priorities and goals, but also the importance of protecting himself to make sure he stays on track. He had learned that doing other things would take away the energy he needed to thrive in what he was called to do as well as who he was called to be with.
I practiced the one liner advice and set my goals and priorities down on paper.
Here are two of the main ones I am living out of as an example:
1) I want my wife and kids to feel totally prioritized in the midst of everything we do.
2) I want to focus on writing and building resources that help people to connect and mature into fully empowered human beings.
Now I have clear goals set that help me feel connected in life, and challenge me to stay present in everything I am doing. They also help me to say no to amazing opportunities that would eat away at my time or focus, which are invaluable resources to meeting my goals.
One such opportunity came up recently. I was invited to travel 10-12 more times this year and speak through a conference circuit that is amazing but isn’t in line with the current message I am going after. The opportunity wasn’t going to help protect my current priorities of spending more time with my young family, or writing and creating core resources to build our message. It would have required taking some risks that aren’t worth it in this season but might be in another where my goals have changed.
It becomes easy to say no to something or someone when it allows you to say yes to something you’ve prioritized and have passion for. You might have to say no to a thousand things to maintain your yes to the most important things.
You can’t feel synchronized in life without defined goals, priorities, and identity.
You won’t be present with the life that God has called you to if you haven’t defined the margins of that life with God. The power we have as Christians to lead an amazing life is only harnessed if we live connected to this life in a way that is not reactionary but proactively pursuing what we know brings the highest value.
We are a people group that don’t have to ever let life happen to us. We not only have the freedom to plan, but we have heaven backing our plans up.
If we stay present with what God has put inside of us and protect it, we begin to live in total connection to ourselves and the world we are called too. Our family benefits because we aren’t in an internal war over focus, our friends benefit because they can feel that they are a priority to us, our businesses or ministries thrive because we aren’t scattered but instead are focused on excellence.
God is such a great example of being fully present.
God is everywhere and Omnipresent, but he chose to give us the gift of being present with us in time and space. He is undivided in his attention to us because we are his goal, and he is protecting that focus with all of heaven’s attention.
When we draw close to him, he draws into us. And if we are present with him, he is already present with us, creating meaningful connection to everything else in our life. We are his priority and he doesn’t compromise his time with us. He never doesn’t show, and he never stays quiet, even if we are quiet with him—because we are his priority.
You are called to feel connected to this life in a way that makes the world around you wonder how you are able to thrive.
I feel like people who are connected to God’s heart in this way live in dog years.
They have seven-years-worth of activity in a normal year of human time. In other words, we accomplish a longer, more full, and deeply-rooted life when we are connected in this way.
My wife and I just recently had a little marriage summit. This time when she shared out of the vulnerable place of her heart, I was fully with her connected to her thoughts and dreams because this was my priority. There were still six other things at war for my attention, but my processor for those was switched off as my processor for her was on.
And you know what? I now know the power of being connected.
P.S. (from Graham): Shawn just released a great book on hearing the voice of God called Translating God. Be sure to pick up your copy here.