Living Intentionally

by Bernice Gudgel

THIS MORNING AT THE GROCERY STORY I was reminded of an important parenting lesson. Actually, it’s a great life lesson in general. Something that can help us be better at pretty much anything we do.

Usually the checkers at Safeway are very friendly. They smile and ask about my day and make small talk. Then they bag my groceries and put them in my cart and ask me if I would like help out.

Today’s guy was different. I think he may have just recently been promoted to checker. He got the job done, but that was it. The normal friendly attitude of the other checkers was missing. And he definitely didn’t go the “extra” that the others usually do. In fact, he didn’t even put my groceries into my cart. And I wasn’t in the express line! He just left them on the counter and started the next person.

Now I can certainly put my own grocery bags in my cart, and I did. And I didn’t say anything about it or give him any weird looks. But as I was walking out to my car, I found myself thinking about what had just happened and wishing I could have sat down at Starbucks with him for five minutes just to give him some friendly, helpful advice that could make a huge difference in his future.

There are some people in this world who just naturally go out of their way to always do things right. To always do the best that they can, no matter how big or small the task. They do the things that are expected of them really well, and then they go beyond what’s expected of them, with a smile on their face. And bosses and friends and family and others love them for it! Those are the people that usually succeed in whatever they do.

But being that guy doesn’t just happen. It takes intentional effort. Instead of just living life on auto-pilot, they stop and think about what they’re doing. And how they’re doing it. And why they’re doing it. In any area of life the simple principle of living intentionally can give you a huge advantage – not only in your career but also as a parent, a student, a friend, a neighbor, a spouse…

It’s so easy for all of us to go through our days on auto-pilot without even realizing we’re doing it. Life gets so busy that we just do the next thing that comes along that we have to get done. And then the next. And the next. And days and weeks and years can easily go by that way, without putting much thought into anything but just getting by.

But life can be so much more than that. If we can learn to not just go through our days mindlessly , but to intentionally think about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, we’ll have a much better chance of succeeding in the things that are really important to us.

And as parents we need to try to help our kids understand this principle too. They need to know that if they’re just doing the minimum to get by, then that’s as far as they’re going to get. But if they will take the time to think about what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it, they’ll have a big advantage in the life that’s ahead of them.

I wanted to tell that young checker over an iced mocha latte that he could be that guy – the one that succeeds because he intentionally thinks about what he’s doing and how he’s doing it, and then he does the best that he can. Instead of being the guy that just does what’s needed to get by, who ends up spending most of his life just getting by.

I hope you’ll take some time in the near future to stop and think about the parts of your life that are most important to you. The things you really want to succeed at – your marriage, parenting, your walk with God, your career, friendships, whatever. And then intentionally think about what you can do to make sure you’re not just going through the motions on auto-pilot. Life can be so much more than that.

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