The promise religion can’t keep, that Christmas does.

FI Christmas Promise

This week around tables and living rooms across the world, families gather. Christmas eve. Christmas morning. Christmas dinner. The long, lazy days after Christmas. Sitting together sharing stories, gifts, and great food. At least this is what we want, right?

Some families have this experience. Some don’t. Some of us wish we had people to be with. Some of us get to be around people, but not really with them, spending hours with people we don’t really connect with out of some kind of obligation.

At Christmas, some feel joy because they are together with people they loved. Others feel sadness because they aren’t, or don’t get to be. At this season, most everyone is responding to a deep desire in our hearts. What is that desire?

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Where do you look when your foundation is shaken?

FI Logos Stable

I was on a ladder, standing about six feet in the air, when the whole thing just folded up underneath of me.

It’s one of those ladders made of four segments which you can fold in different ways. I had it configured as a 12’ straight ladder, leaning against my house. Apparently I had not done a good job locking the middle joint. I learned that because my bucket of tools and I took a unexpected slow-motion trip back to the ground.

There’s a particular queasy feeling that seizes you when you thought you had something solid holding you up, and then it turns out you don’t.

That feeling that the foundation has fallen away is all around us right now. Promises were made. Work hard and you can be anything you wanted to be. Get into a good college and you’ll get a good job. Buy a house, pay your mortgage faithfully and you’ll be set for retirement. Be a good, honest citizen and you’ll always be treated fairly. Attend a good church, get involved, give a tithe, and the church (and God) will always be there for you.

All the promises have been broken.

The economy crashed. Good people lost their jobs and then their homes. Smart people are carrying years and years of college debt and can’t get good jobs. More and more stories of corruption, exclusion, and hatred fill our news feeds. Even the church hasn’t proven to be a safe haven when bully pastors, oppressive theology, exclusionary community and outright abuse shaped the experience of so many.

The institutions we have trusted for a sense of security have shown themselves untrustworthy. When the undergirding of your life falls away, where do you look for stability?

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The Target for a Life-Changing FTF Routine.

FI FTF Aim Here

Begin with the end in mind.

Steven Covey is credited with that maxim. It’s the 2nd of his well-known 7 habits. If you start by thinking about the outcome you desire, you can avoid distractions. You can bypass all the options that look so good, so responsible, but don’t really contribute toward your desired outcome.

A FTF routine is an important life practice that allows you to set your day on the right track. If you’re new to the conversation about a FTF (First Things First) routine, you can learn about why this is so important, and see a concrete example here.

Do you want to create a powerful, life-giving FTF routine for your own life? Here’s the target you should shoot for.

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The FTF Routine that gives me life.

FI Wake Up Routine

Want a garden full of fresh, beautiful produce? Cultivate the soil and plant seeds. Want an investment portfolio that provides for your retirement? Thoughtfully invest some money every single month. Want a great relationship with your kids? Spend time in conversation every day.

The common factor? Regular on-purpose investment. Put in a little effort every day. Later the fruit of that investment will be apparent.

Every day you get 24 fresh new hours to spend. How are you investing them? Those hours are seeds. How you invest them will bear fruit in your life.

In my last post I offered this challenge: In order to make sure you invest in the priorities that matter most, start each day with a FTF (First Things First) routine. This guarantees that you plant the seeds of investment in the right place. (If you missed that post, and want to know more about the thoughts behind the FTF routine, and the benefits it can bring in your life, check it out here.)

I learn best seeing practical examples. So, today, I’m going to share my FTF routine with you. Then we’ll talk about how you might go about determining your own FTF routine.

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Is your day your property or someone else’s? (Why you need a FTF routine.)

FI Power FTF

Turns out my blog is probably not for people who have an idyllic, peaceful life. If you’re living in a cabin somewhere reading, hiking, and build relationships with woodland creatures all day, this may not be for you. At least if Google analytics is to be believed.

It seems like you have found yourselves in the middle of a fast-paced life over-full with responsibilities and obligations. In the middle of this whirlwind, you and I are trying to live a life that matters, that makes sense, and that connects with Jesus and His heart for the world

But the whirlwind doesn’t stop for our good intentions. Circumstances shift unexpectedly. People collide into our agenda with needs, opportunities, and demands. The result? We spend most of our days in reactive mode, scrambling to respond to the agenda of other people.

The boss, the DMV, the kids. Everyone needs our time. Often we relent. How many days in recent memory have you slid into bed at day’s end, wondering if you accomplished anything of value at all, even though you never stopped moving the whole day?

The problem? When you live reactively, your time becomes the servant of someone else’s agenda. Your time gets spent on the urgency and demands of others. But how can you change this? You need a FTF Routine.

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