Begin with the End in Mind

I read a book a few years back titled, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The second of the seven habits he declared in his book stated, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Covey was encouraging people to be visionary in their own lives, their work, their relationships, and their legacy.

That phrase ‘begin with the end in mind’ reminds me of how strategic and visionary my God Son was as a child when he played with Legos. As an older child, he loved to create detailed and intricate Lego structures and models.  He could see in his mind’s eye what he wanted to build before he had even put one Lego piece strategically in place. But my God Son’s ability to create these designs took years of practice, rebuilding, persevering and learning. This learning started when he was quite young. I remember giving him a Lego model for his birthday. The Lego came with step-by-step instructions to create that specific Lego design and showed a photo of what the end result would look like. My God Son opened the box, laying the pieces out in an orderly fashion, and started with step one looking at the instructions on each page taking it step-by-step working toward that end result. Occasionally, he would miss a step or a piece and things wouldn’t fit correctly. That’s when he would call someone in to help him. He didn’t want it done for him, but he did want advice, or counsel on how to get back on track. He never quit when it became too hard to create that Lego model and in the end, when he was finished, the feeling of accomplishment was obvious.

As my God Son marries the love of his life this month, I realized building Legos can be a lot like building a marriage if we begin with the end in mind. When you put that phrase in the perspective of marriage you could say, “How do you want the marriage you and your spouse are building to be remembered when you reach the part about ‘until death do us part’?”

Starting with a clear vision of the marriage model my God Son and his new wife want to build requires that they commit to being the designers of their marriage; that they commit to being life-long learners, always humbling themselves, asking for counsel when needed, and scrapping their own expectations of what they each perceive a model marriage should be.

As I was searching for the perfect wedding shower gift for my God Son and his future wife, I found a book titled, Seven Rings of Marriage. This book focuses on determining a clear vision for marriage with the end in mind by understanding that all marriages have seasons of hope and brokenness.

  1. EngagementRing– this is a time to start laying the foundational pieces of a marriage.
  2. WeddingRing– this is where the commitment is made to God and each other as they build this marriage together.
  3. DiscoverRing – this is the season where they find that their spouse is NOT perfect and discover how they will choose to relate to each other in those imperfect times.
  4. PerseveRing – this is where they choose to continue on a course of action together, even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success; when they choose to go together and move closer toward each other.
  5. RestoRing – pieces of the marriage or of individuals are sometimes broken and this is when they must chose to forgive, allowing time for that broken piece to be returned to its former condition.
  6. ProspeRing – after they have faced challenges together, perspectives are different; they chose joy through it all.
  7. MentoRing – wise couples who have chosen to be life-long learners and builders of their marriage realize that they have an obligation to give back and support other marriages while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

God has created a detailed and intricate model for each of our marriages. His Word acts as the instruction manual to help us see the clear vision of what our unique union will become.  So just like building Legos requires vision, discovery, rebuilding, and perseverance; building a marriage is an ongoing creative process that is done together with Jesus as our foundation.

Luke 6:48  New Living Translation (NLT) 48 It is like a person building a house who lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.

3 Things You Need To Know

There are many days I wish my three sons were little boys again. Those years were such a remarkable time of laughter, learning, and liveliness. Those memories make me want to linger in the past, but we all know when you stay embedded in the past we risk missing the ‘happening now’ moments that create new extraordinary memories.

Well, last week I experienced one of those ‘happening now’ memorable moments with my now older boys. I was on a short road trip with two of my boys.  I was sitting alone in the back seat looking through some mail as the boys sat in the front seats listening to music, that was unfamiliar to my ears, and enjoying a conversation with each other that I couldn’t fully hear. But something that my middle son said to my youngest son perked my hearing. He began by saying, “There are three things you need to know in this life,  1) Do what you know is right; 2) Know you are not in control; and 3) Make peace with yourself.”  I immediately asked him to repeat what he had said.  I wanted to make sure I had heard it all right.  His words seemed to be well received by his brother and carried so much wisdom.

Our conversation in the car continued as we traveled down the road. We discussed what those words meant to each of us, and my thoughts have returned to those wise words several times over the past few days…

  • Do What You Know Is Right – Perhaps the best-known universal moral principle of doing what is right is “the golden rule” or ethics of reciprocity, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Doing the right thing isn’t always the easy thing, but when you’ve found or done something that’s right, you have absolutely no doubt. You move forward without hesitation or question. You don’t need an affirmation from others to assure that what you’ve got going is right. You just know it.
  • Know You Are Not In Control – Have you noticed that things go more smoothly when we surrender to control and allow things to just happen rather than making them happen. Unfortunately, many of us are terrible at this. Learning the art of surrender means to stop fighting. Stop fighting with yourself. Stop fighting the universe and the natural flow of things. Stop fighting reality. Letting go of control and surrendering not only makes us feel better, but actually produces better results.
  • Make Peace With Yourself – We can create our own peace of mind by the daily choices we make and with positive self-talk. If we choose to live each day we are given with integrity, then we can feel at peace. Life is tough sometimes, but as long as we hang onto our integrity, no matter what is happening in our world, we can lay down each night with a clear conscience and wonderful sense of peace.

I have always encouraged my three sons to explore, seek, and experience their life, for there is no end to living, learning, and making memories. I hope they will be honest and fair, because the truth will bring them peace.  I hope they are true to who they are, for inside each of them is a wonderful man. I hope they do not risk their integrity and beliefs for money or stature.  I hope they continue to support each other and take time to reflect on their accomplishments. I hope they keep family a priority and continue to make more memorable moments happen. I hope above all else, they remember those three things 1) Do what you know is right; 2) Know you are not in control; and 3) Make peace with yourself.