Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

“When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.” — Deuteronomy 20:19-20

The nation of Israel is being instructed before entering the Promised Land to conquer it before settling in to enjoy it. How should they proceed? What will ensure success? God gave them specific and comprehensive instructions, including how to choose trees for use when mounting a siege.

Trees come in handy when building a tower to assault the city walls. Cut them down; they’ll grow again! Yes, they will, but it will take a while. Once the city is conquered, someone will be living in it. Fruit trees will be useful in the near future, so think before cutting.

Thinking one more step ahead is helpful more often than not. It may look like a good solution at first glance, but will it still be as good tomorrow, or even this afternoon? Most of the time, this is a mental habit we simply need to exercise. It’s nothing exotic or a talent only a few can have. You can do it, and it will pay off.

If you would like to get better at thinking one more step ahead, there are some things you can do other than just pausing to do it.

  • You can make a physical reminder for yourself, like a sticky note on the kitchen cupboard or the front of your planner. This functions as a mini-inspirational poster in your daily life (only much cheaper).
  • Some people may be better at this than you. If so, ask them when you are considering a next step. What do they see as potential pitfalls in your next actions? “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:!4)
  • If you know someone, in your office or in your home, who could be asked to helpfully (not annoyingly) ask you before you start something, “Are you sure?”, that could be a great trigger for you to pause, reconsider, and confidently more forward.

 

Good Ideas: Giant Bullet Journal Pad

Bullet journaling is quite the fad. The benefits are great, and the layout can be beautiful. But it can be hard to keep up with the journal, and multiple pages can get out of hand.

How about this — a giant paper pad with just a few bullet journal ideas on it? You pick the items that work best for you and your family. Ideas abound on Pinterest and other web sites. Friends can be a rich source also. Then pull out the markers and color it up, large-scale and easy to read. If you post it in a public space, it will be hard to ignore too!

This could be the fun, workable, convenient, manageable way for you to use some of the beautiful journal ideas you’ve seen. Take a look.

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What To Do When

Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house. Proverbs 24:27

Why on earth would you work outside before building yourself a house?

Well, you can live in a tent while you till and plant, and then you have a home-building project to keep you busy while you wait for the crop to ripen. Now you have a house and a harvest. The other way around leaves you hungry in a cozy home.

The order you work on projects, or tasks, or toward goals, matters most of the time.

Stagger your progress. If I know I have to make brownies and take a shower before heading to a party, wouldn’t it make sense to mix up the brownies first? Then I can get ready while the brownies bake.

If you have multiple steps for a project and you know you will have to wait on others along the way, plan out when you will do each one and where you will have to wait. Get the ball rolling, and then you can turn your attention to other priorities while you wait for a response. After you get what you need in response, move to the next step until you have to wait again. You will be able to keep moving along your timeline and tend to other tasks at the same time.

For another simple example, we can get a lot done in between running loads of laundry, but we do have to put a load in the washing machine to start. But if we wait until it has to be done to put it in, we’re looking at a frustrating wait.

Taking a minute or two to think through the overall plan will pay off for you. Stepping back to look at the big picture will help you cut out the unpleasant surprises and unexpected delays that will prevent you from accomplishing your goal on time. Making a plan and walking through steps in the best order will pay off for you.

How to Make Strong Plans

Plans are established by counsel;
by wise guidance wage war.
Proverbs 20:18

Life often feels like a battle — because it is! In the midst of it, we’ll take any weapon tossed our way. Even better than that would be walking into the battle with the best weapons we can have.

The best plans are shaped with wise input. The proverb above is giving us a key. Getting counsel when we make plans will make our plans stronger. Using a wise guide, who knows more than we do and can add depth and insight, will make us more effective as we work our plans.

Two is better than one, in this case. None of us know everything or can experience everything, but put us together and see what we have! Mistakes can be avoided, valuable lessons learned can be transferred (instead of having to learn it the hard way), and perspective is wider with two or more sets of eyes.

This does take humility, though. Often we don’t ask for help because we don’t want to admit we don’t know everything and can’t do it all. Letting pride limit us will hurt us every time.

But the benefit is great! Gaining wisdom from God through those godly people He places in our paths is a precious treasure.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
Proverbs 3:13-14

I encourage you to ask for guidance today in a plan you are making. If you can’t immediately think of a good person to ask related to it, start asking questions of others and look to find someone who has the specific wisdom you might need.

Seek wisdom. It’s worth the effort.

Share the Joy

Remember when we talked about pruning your to-do list? Well, there is another way to keep your task load in good shape.

Keep in mind that responsibility doesn’t always mean doing it with your own hands.

  • If your time can be better spent elsewhere and your budget allows, use a grocery pick service or even delivery service.
  • You may like how your dishwasher loading system works, but would your call to love your children include training them in that particular chore and responsibility?

An excellent help in looking for delegation opportunities can be found in your husband and/or your boss. Taking a step back and getting a wider view can make a big change in your perspective. They see what you can’t, right in the middle of each day.

  • If your husband values your time more than a cooked-from-scratch meal (and, again, your budget allows), perhaps sandwiches or (relatively) healthy takeout should be in the weekly meal plan more often. A walk together before dinner might be a better use of your time.
  • Are you spending a large percentage of your day doing something that is really someone else’s responsibility or could be easily transferred? Check. Your boss may rather you do what only you can do. You may add more value and more excellent work by eliminating that task from your list.

Delegation can be good, not an automatic failure. Yes, this can take an investment in money or training, but the goal would be one less task for your every day and time freed up for what is most valuable and can serve God best with your time.