Initially, I taught this material for about 10 years as “Increasing Human Effectiveness,” a secular workshop of 80 hours during a two week period. My students were mostly Department of Defense military and civilian employees. I taught the material throughout the United States in many places and in many situations ranging from Army foxholes to leadership boardrooms.
After I retired I “converted” the material to an 8 to 10 hour class as a faith-based workshop, teaching it to both small church groups and to individuals—and renamed it Creating My Future. The workshop is designed for you to actually do some homework which may take a few hours—not all at one sitting, however. So . . . if you‘re willing to do your assigned homework, this material may very well prove to be some of the most useful you have ever read and worked on!
Here’s what the Bible says about this workshop: “God, You know every step I will take even before my journey even begins. YOU’VE GONE INTO MY FUTURE to prepare the way.” (Psalm 139: 4 and 5, The Passion Translation, emphasis mine)
To begin our workshop, I have good news for you: your past does not necessarily equal your future! You can create a bright new future for yourself. Your past is past. Look to your future! The very best of your past can be the worst of your future . . . if you’ll work at co- creating your new future in cooperation with God. You can look better in your future than you do right now!
All Jesus-believers should be futurists, not “pastists.” It is good to have a healthy, positive focus on the future, knowing God has already been there ahead of us. We are not trapped in our past or present. Our past should be a stepping stone, not a millstone; a guidepost, not a hitching post. We can move forward into our future. Why have a positive focus on the future? Because we will spend the rest of our lives in our futures! Keep in mind God is already in your future, beckoning you to come join Him in your bright future!
We’re all on a journey toward our futures. Our journeys began when we were conceived and will end—but not really end—when we make the transition from this life to the next stage of our journey into more eons of time and beyond that into the Eternal Realm.
You may ask, “What if Jesus returns soon? Won’t that radically alter any future we might have had otherwise? Yes, that most certainly would radically alter our futures. If we are Bible-believers we have to wrestle with the matter of Jesus’ return. Jesus said He would return to this planet and establish his Kingdom. That’s a certainty. The only thing we don’t know with any objective certainty is when Jesus will return. That He will return is a certainty. When He will return is not so certain. Yes, He could return this morning. But He could return a thousand years or more from now. Only God the Father knows exactly when Jesus will return. We can only speculate about the time of his return. Someone has quipped: “Jesus can’t return today because it’s already tomorrow on the opposite side of the world!”
Not knowing when Jesus will return results in two viewpoints. First, some will say, “Since we don’t know—but it may be soon—why bother planning for the future?” Those holding another viewpoint will say just the opposite: “Since we don’t know with any certainty when Jesus will return, let’s plan on living the remainder of our lives with passion and purpose, discovering our destiny and looking for a bright future.” It’s really just a matter of choice which of those two viewpoints you hold—one is rather negative, the other somewhat positive. As for me and my family, we choose the positive viewpoint, cooperating with the Holy Spirit in “co-creating” with Him a bright future for ourselves. The Holy Spirit within us is actually Jesus in his “unbodied Spirit form.”
Here at the very beginning of this workshop, there are four general principles I want you to understand clearly:
- If I keep doing what I’ve always done in my past, in my future I’ll keep getting what I’ve always gotten. I’ve been told Dr Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.
- My future does not necessarily equal my past.
- God wants me to live by design, not by default or by chance.
- I will spend the rest of my mortal life living in my future.
So . . . let’s take a look to see what we can do—working in cooperation with God’s Spirit within us—to begin creating, building, and configuring our own bright new futures. If we and the Holy Spirit cooperate in constructing and shaping our own futures, then we need not fear the future, because we will be familiar with it—we will know it—and it will quite naturally draw us toward it as we walk hand in hand with God toward the futures we have built together with him.
First, think about Jeremiah 29: 11:
“’I have tremendous plans for you, both in this life and the next,’ says God. ‘They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a bright future and a solid hope.’”
Then consider Isaiah 43: 19:
“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. There it is! Can you see it? I’m making a road through the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
God has a vision to do something new for our bright futures. His future for you is good, not bad—and full of hope. He wants you to have a successful and prosperous future full of hope, full of good, and full of purpose, but let’s define “success” and “prosperity” according to the Bible.
Here is the Bible’s amplified definition of success as found principally in the first chapter of Joshua:
“Success is for me to steadily and consistently move toward accomplishing God’s plans and purposes for my life, according to my potential *; it is a journey, not a destination.”
[*Potential consists of three components: 1. My God-given gifts, skills, abilities and talents; 2. My education and training; and 3. My desires. [As to my desires, remember it is God who gives me the desires of my heart; not that He simply fulfills my desires (He does!), but He puts them in my heart in the first place. Psalm 37:4]
Here’s the Bible’s definition of prosperity as found in several places throughout both the Old and New Testaments:
“Prosperity is for God to furnish me enough for my journey.”
Those are the Bible’s definitions of those two concepts. Contrast and compare them with the generally accepted definitions of those two words by this world’s systems. Keep both definitions clearly in mind as you continue your homework.
As previously mentioned, this teaching grew out of workshops I have presented in various settings throughout the entire United States and in other parts of the world. The nature of a workshop is that the participants do some work. Before reading any further in this teaching, I have some work I want you to do. Please do not continue reading until you do your “homework.” Frankly, this homework may take you a number of hours to complete (Not all at one time, necessarily), but if you don’t complete your assigned homework, then the remainder of this teaching will be absolutely worthless to you. So . . . it’s your choice now: either do your homework or don’t waste your time reading the remainder of this teaching.
Yes, it may take you a few hours to complete your homework, but you don’t have to do it all at one sitting. In fact, it would be better for you if you worked on it a few moments a day over the next week or so. That will give ample time for the concepts you’ll be working on to lodge deeply in your mind and spirit—and ample time for the Holy Spirit to begin helping them become an integral part of your future.
In order for you to have a successful and prosperous future, you must first begin with forming and writing down your BELIEFS. After you’ve done that, you will also work on your ATTITUDES, your VALUES, your MISSION or VISION for your life, and some GOALS to help you fulfill God’s and your visions for your life and to create, shape, and mold your bright future.
When you’re finished with these homework exercises, you will have a new grasp, understanding, and appreciation of your own BELIEFS, ATTITUDES, VALUES, MISSION, and GOALS. Yours, not mine. Not someone else’s. Not your spouse’s, not your parents, not what you feel someone else expects of you, but your very own that you can work with for the remainder of your journey through this life—whether that journey is another 100 years, 50 years, 25 years, 5 years, or one year. These will help you reach the bright future God has in store for you, regardless of the length of that future.
Again, keep in mind that God has already “traveled” to your future and knows all its highlights and joys as well as its sorrows, pitfalls, and detours. Grasp his hand firmly as you journey toward your future; with God, all will be well because God is All . . . in all.
Wherever you’re presently at on your journey through this life, you know God has been very present with you—and in you—up to this point in your journey. He has been there in the past. He is with you now. The fact that He has been with you on every stage of your journey so far should encourage you that He will be with you in the future stages of your journey, too. Not only will He be with you in your future, but He has already gone on ahead and paved the way for you to walk with him into your bright new future.
Lesson One: My True Beliefs
Your beliefs are what you honestly hold to be true about God, about his universe, about life on this planet, about humanity, about yourself, etc. They are what you honestly believe to be true and real in an absolute and objective sense. You must not list your beliefs simply because you feel they are what others think you should believe, or what you think you ought to believe. They should be what you honestly believe when you’re alone with just God and yourself. Beliefs should be written, personalized, and referred to often. Your true and genuine beliefs underlie everything you do and say.
Just to get you started formulating and writing your own, here are some sample beliefs written by some of my former workshop participants:
- God is, and He loves all humanity, including me.
- God is eternally good, not bad in any sense. All his thoughts toward me are good. All his plans for my future are good.
- Jesus of Nazareth is God in human flesh, born of a virgin. He lived. He died. He came back to life. He ascended to heaven. He will come back to earth again.
- God restores everyone to a full, loving relationship with Himself. Those who know, tell those who don’t.
- God lives in me permanently in the unbodied form of the Holy Spirit.
- God has specific plans and purposes for my life, and He wishes me to be successful and prosperous during my life’s journey.
- I can only be a true, growing, maturing Jesus-believer if I am actively involved in the life of a local expression of Jesus’ Living Body, his Church.
- The nuclear family with heterosexual, married parents is God’s plan for all humankind.
- God has placed me exactly where He wants me in a local expression of his Living Body, the Church.
- I am a unique creation of God, equipped with all the skills, abilities and talents necessary for me to be all God wants me to be and to fulfill all his plans and purposes for my life.
My First Homework Assignment
Okay, here’s your first homework. Before you read any further, I want you to take a separate sheet of paper and write down your own beliefs under the heading, “Here Is What I Truly And Honestly Believe.” Go ahead, write that heading on a separate sheet of paper and get started writing your own beliefs under that heading. To get you started, feel free to “borrow” some of the beliefs of others I wrote just above this paragraph—as long as you truly believe them. As you write your beliefs, share them with your spouse, significant other, or loved ones so you will have shared beliefs. Write your own beliefs. Write your shared beliefs.
On the other hand, never discuss your beliefs, values, attitudes, mission statement, or goals with people who will be negative and unbelieving about them; there are enough of those people around you. Instead, share them only with like-minded, positive people who will work with you and help you create your bright new future.
Lesson Two: My Attitudes
I was not born with my attitudes. I learned them from various sources. Negative, harmful attitudes can be unlearned and replaced with new, positive attitudes based on my beliefs and my values. When I change my attitudes to be more positive and God-centered, I see life differently. Attitudes are the “filters” and “windows” through which I view all of my life. My entire life is changed when I change my attitudes
95% of what I do or don’t do on a daily basis is based on my prevailing attitudes. On the one hand, my attitudes are expressed primarily by my speech, secondarily by my body language, facial expressions, and overall demeanor. On the other hand, simultaneously over time my speech creates my attitudes. In brief, my attitudes are expressed by my speech. My speech creates my attitudes. My speech and my attitudes are vitally, inseparably interconnected.
At the beginning of any undertaking, it is my attitude more than anything else that will determine a successful outcome. An attitude of gratitude gives me more “latitude” in my daily life. It is attitude, not aptitude, that determines my “altitude” in life.
At this point, I want you to stop and consider some of your genuine attitudes toward God, toward what you feel about your place in the universe and on earth, your attitudes toward other people and your attitudes toward yourself. Also, consider the prevailing attitudes you hold about your day-to-day life, including your work, your spare time, your social life, how you feel about various situations you encounter in your day-to-day affairs.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitudes on life. Attitudes, to me, are more important than facts. They are more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than success, than what other people say, or think, or do. They are more important than appearance, giftedness, or skills. Attitudes will make or break a company . . . a church . . . a home . . . a marriage. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitudes we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have—our attitudes. I am convinced that life is 5% what happens to me and 95% of how I react and respond to it based on my attitudes. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.” — Adapted from Chuck Swindoll
My Second Homework Assignment
On some other sheets of paper, write down some of your attitudes—good or bad, positive or negative—and give consideration about how you might change some of them that need changing.
- I change my attitudes about_____________ (List as many as you feel you need to change)
Have you completed your homework about your true and genuine beliefs and some attitudes that need changing? If so, please continue. If not, don’t go any further until you’ve written at least 8-10 of your own beliefs and attitudes that need changing. Once you complete that assignment, now you can take another piece of paper and begin to write your values as defined below. Remember, these should be your values, not someone else’s. Take your time, think about them, pray about them, write them down. Your values are based upon your beliefsand attitudes, and, in a sense, should “agree“ with your beliefs and attitudes. If they don‘t agree, then your beliefs, attitudes, and values will always be “warring“ against each other.
Lesson Three: My Values
Your values are what are most valuable to you. What you treasure the most. What you value the most. What you would save if your home were burning down and you could rescue only a few items, including people and pets. They are what are most important to you. They are your core views about the worth or importance of people, concepts, or things. They are “windows” through which you make all your decisions—the way you look at and evaluate life.
Your values must be consistent and “agree” with your true and real beliefs. If they are inconsistent, your values are not what you really hold to be most valuable to you. Take whatever time you need to write down your genuine values. You can always come back to this teaching at any time. Pray about your values. Ask God to help you with them. Make certain they are your values, not someone else’s.
My Third Homework Assignment
Here are some sample ideas about values you can think about as you write your own values on a separate sheet of paper under this heading: These Are My True and Real Values.
- It is important to me that I am a growing, maturing Jesus-believer, consistently developing and maintaining an open relationship with God.
- I value having a comfortable home and surroundings.
- It’s important to me to maintain a sacrificial level of giving to God of my time, talent, and treasures. It’s important to me to be a good manager of God’s money.
- It’s important to me to be a loving spouse (or friend, mother, father, grandparent, etc.), consistently developing and maintaining an open relationship with my _________________.
- Prayer is very valuable and important to me.
- It’s important to me that I provide adequately for the needs of my family.
- Travel and vacationing are very important to me.
Lesson Four: My Vision or “Mission Statement” for My Life
I’m assuming at this point you have completed your homework about your beliefs, attitudes, and values (and have given serious thought about how to change any attitudes you need to change) on three separate sheets of paper and you’re now ready to move on to your Fourth homework assignment: writing your Vision (or “Mission Statement”) for your life.
Please understand that God has a vision or mission for your life. God’s vision for you . . . God’s dream for you . . . God’s plans and purposes for you . . . are to fully restore you to his image. God created you in his image. You marred his image in you. God is restoring his image in you. When your dreams are in line with God’s dreams they become real and exciting! Most people don’t aim too high at their dreams and miss. They aim too low and hit!
The fullest—the perfect—image of God is Jesus. (Hebrews 1:3; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 4:4; Colossians 1:15) You are a marred, blemished, fuzzy, unfocused image of God. What does it mean that God created you in his image? It means that you are a visible representation of the invisible God. Jesus is God’s perfect visible representation; you are God’s imperfect visible representation.
How is God restoring his perfect image in you? As you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, he empowers you (from within where He lives in your spirit) to change your mind and attitudes.
Changing your thoughts and attitudes (putting on the mind of Jesus) day after day, year after year—and on into the eternal state—changes you more and more into the fully restored image of God . . . into a clearer image of God . . . into a more clearly focused image of God. (Romans 12: 1 and 2; Ephesians 4: 23; etc.)
So…what is God’s vision and mission for your life?
God’s Vision For Your Life Is To Fully Restore You To His Image!
In order to do that, God is taking whatever steps are necessary (many known only to him) to accomplish that.
Tying into God’s vision for your life, your own mission statement should describe your unique purpose in life. It should capture the qualities you want to develop in life, what you want to accomplish, what contributions you want to make in life. Your personal mission statement becomes a guide for your life, inspiring you to make decisions that will best help you reach your goals and fulfill your vision. It’s how you would like other people to see you and describe you. It should state why you feel you exist. It should state a “calling” for your life. It should state how you hope to fulfill your vision or mission. It should state what you want people to remember about you after you die.
My Fourth Homework Assignment
Here are some sample mission statements:
- Steadily and consistently, and as fully and completely as possible, I participate in the Lord Jesus’ work of restoring me—and others, including my family and friends—to God’s unmarred image. Part of my mission is to be an integral part of—and help build—the Church of Jesus. I accomplish this by means of ordinary day-to-day events and relationships with my loved ones, friends, and those whom I meet. To this end, I place at God’s disposal all my time, talents, and treasures.
- My basic mission in life is to introduce other people to Jesus and then help them grow and mature as Jesus-believers. Put another way, my mission is to bring heaven to earth, God to people, people back to God, and exhibit to others Jesus wrapped in his ____________________(insert your name here) skin.
- I believe God wants me to be a successful and prosperous businessperson so I can adequately meet the needs of my family and give money to God for his work here on earth. But, it’s God first, then my family, then my business.
- My vision is to successfully complete my career in ten more years, retire with an adequate income, and then participate in short-term mission trips to China, taking other people with me on such trips.
Reminder: Your vision for your life draws you toward your future; it helps you “create” your own future. It helps you stay focused on your future. Your life’s vision continually helps you shape your future. What your past has been does not necessarily mean what your future is to be. For the remainder of your mortal life, continually remember this day after day, year after year: Your past does not necessarily equal your future. In many respects, your future is up to you!
Go ahead and let yourself dream about your vision for your life. Let your dream become so much a part of you that it shines out of your eyes. Some say that without our dreams, we are really nothing more than animals living only from day to day. Once you sort of “open up’ your mind and spirit to begin dreaming, then dreams begin to build atop dreams and they get bigger and bigger . . . until finally they match God’s dreams for your life. Yes, let yourself dream . . . and then ask God to help you turn those dreams into reality! You life will be as big as your dreams are!
Tying into God’s vision for your life, now take a fourth sheet of paper and write this heading on it: My Mission or Vision For My Life. Under that heading, now take whatever time you need to think through and write down your vision for your my life; it must be consistent with your beliefs and values; otherwise, it will not be effective.
Lesson Five: My Exciting Lifetime Goals
Goals are realistic, reachable dreams with deadlines. They are written, planned ends to which your performance and prayers are directed. When you set goals and write them down, you begin to perceive things related to your goals—things you have not previously thought of or seen. Without written goals, your life tends to be fragmented, scattered, unfulfilling, chaotic, and boring.
Goals are important because we humans are “teleological.” That’s just a big word meaning that we humans were created by God to function best when we are working toward goals. We human beings are most effective when we work toward goals. We are happier and feel more fulfilled when we have goals we are pursuing. That’s just the way God created us as teleological beings.
Setting goals is like setting a needle in a compass. From then on, the compass knows only one point—its ideal. And it will guide you there through the darkest nights and the fiercest storms of life.
The energy derived from setting goals comes in large part from the focus it brings to our lives. It’s like igniting a fire by channeling the gentle rays of the sun to a single spot through a magnifying glass.
It’s critical you write your goals and then refer to them and work toward them daily. Goals are not resolutions you dream up at the first of the year and then hermetically seal in an old peanut butter jar and hide away, hoping they will magically come true by next year. You must write them down, refer to them daily, imagine them coming true, look for things to make them happen, work toward them, dream of them, and talk them over with people who can help you reach them (but not with negative people who will put a damper on them).
Your goals must be consistent—agree with—with your beliefs and values, your genuine attitudes, with your values, your mission statement, and with the Bible’s definitions of “success” and “prosperity.” If they’re not consistent, then no matter what you do to attempt to reach your goals, you will constantly sabotage yourself as you work toward accomplishing them. You must write short-range goals (six months to one to two years out), mid-range goals (three to seven years out), and long-range goals (eight to ten years and more).
Generally, most people write their goals under six categories: Service Work, Business, Education, Family, Sports and Hobbies, and General.
My Fifth Homework Assignment
Here are some sample goals:
- Have a regular, enjoyable exercise program and maintain lifelong good health.
- Give God a minimum of 10% of my income each pay period, beginning with 3%, then 5%, then 7%, and, finally, 10%.
- Within one year, develop and maintain a meaningful, lifelong hobby.
- Within five years, consistently drive late-model vehicles, completely paid for.
- Travel to Europe and the British Isles within five years.
- Within eight to ten years, become consistently free of debt except for recurring expenses.
- Finish my undergraduate degree within 5 years from this date.
- Build a comfortable retirement income in addition to other late-in-life working income.
- Write at least one book in this life. Begin writing it this year; finish it in three years.
- Have 3 – 5 couples as close friends, with regular, planned fellowship.
- Within one year develop a genuine attitude of patience and tolerance of others who do not hold the same views I do.
- Within two years, be hosting and teaching a meaningful weekly Bible study in my home with at least twelve people in regular attendance.
The best way to write your goals is to take six separate sheets of paper. At the top of each sheet, write one of those six categories mentioned above as a heading. Give yourself a few hours to work on them—to dream about them. Find a place where you will not be distracted. Put on some of your favorite music in the background. Get comfortable. Begin writing. Just let yourself dream.
Write down anything that comes to mind. If you think of something to write down that seems far-fetched or impossible, don’t tell yourself that; write it down anyhow, no matter how unreachable it might seem while you are writing. After all, God is a God of miracles and nothing is impossible with Him! Don’t limit yourself or tell yourself there’s no way you could accomplish something. Just write it down. That’s the main thing: just let yourself dream and write it down.
After you’ve written your goals and have begun to work toward fulfilling them, check off the ones you’ve fulfilled and write down some more. This is a “living” document, where you are constantly reaching some goals, checking them off, and writing more.
Now take six separate sheets of paper, put the following headings on each of the sheets, and then begin writing your goals. REMINDER: your goals must be consistent with your true beliefs, your genuine values, your attitudes, and your mission statement for your life.
1. My Church, Spiritual, Political, Community Goals
Samples: Rotary, Kiwanis, Church, Junior League, Chamber of Commerce, Boys Club, Young Republicans, serve at the mission, teach Church school, short-term missions trips, join Christian Service club, Campaign for City Council, etc.
2. My Business Goals
Samples: make wise, effective decisions; make a vital contribution; delegate better; be better at follow-through; organize time better; hire more effective employees; develop teamwork; earn $___________ annually within five years; start my own home-based business; earn an MBA; etc.
3. My Educational Goals
Samples: get a license, obtain a college degree, etc; conduct classes and seminars; teach at conferences; speed read; plan for personal growth and development; specific skills training; attend one seminar annually; attend one Christian conference annually; etc.
4. My Family Goals
Samples: develop closeness and respect; plan family time better; plan and take one vacation annually; participate in children’s activities; shared interests with spouse; express feelings more effectively; demonstrate more love; show more interest in ________________; set a better example; show more patience; etc.
5. My Sports, Hobbies, Recreational, and Leisure Goals
Samples: learn to dance; learn to ski, play tennis, golf, etc; start a collection of __________; fish; hike; climb; refinish furniture; learn to oil paint; learn to play a musical instrument; gardening; sing in a quartet; etc.
6. My General and Miscellaneous Goals
Samples: earn more respect from peers; develop my self-esteem; do public speaking; improve my appearance and grooming; learn to relax and enjoy leisure time; attain my ideal weight; stop smoking; improve my physical condition; be a person of more integrity; plan more time alone for myself; read the Bible completely through; introduce _______________ to Jesus, etc.
You should now have ten separate sheets of paper on which you have written your beliefs, your attitudes, your values, your mission statement, and your goals—all consistent with the Bible‘s definitions of “success“ and “prosperity.”
Another Homework Assignment
Another homework assignment is to take another separate sheet of paper and use it for notes that come to your mind from time to time as you re-read and reflect upon this teaching and continue updating and changing your other sheets as situations and events change in your life. Remember, this entire process is an ongoing process; your documents are “living” documents, subject to change, updating, and revision through the years. Here are some sample thoughts and notes some of my regular workshop participants have written:
- Everything I write in this workbook (beliefs, values, mission statement, goals, etc.) is always subject to change as situations and events change in my life such as a death, divorce, a move, a new job, illness, etc. When things change, simply update them and move on toward the new future necessary to incorporate the changes.
- Another fun exercise might be to sit down with my spouse and children and work on these together from time to time so I not only have individual beliefs, values, etc., but so we have shared interests. Even children can work out some of these principles at their own state of awareness and level of understanding. For example, don’t you wish you had learned some of these principles when you were in elementary, middle, and high school? What we’re generally taught in school helps us make a living; these principles help us make a life!
- Make it a habit to read books about these principles. At your local library, often you can find great videos that teach many of these principles. Keep a file of newspaper and magazine articles you read about these principles.
- Winners dwell on past wins. Losers dwell on past losses. Start a “Win Book” in which you write down good things that happen to you, praise you receive from others, good things you do, awards you receive, commendations you are given, etc. Past wins help you have future wins.
- Have a family night
A competent teacher always has objectives for their teaching. God has wonderful plans and purposes for your future. My objective for you in writing this teaching is to help you learn how to begin—in practical, workable ways—to tap into those plans and purposes as you and God stride hand in hand toward your limitless future!
If you wish to contact me for assistance, please let me know what I can do to help you.
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Updated and Revised June 2019