Do You Have a SUSTAINABILITY Problem?

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I had never given much thought to the issue of “sustainability” until my daughter entered the master’s program in Urban Planning at the University of California Irvine. Abbie helped me see that while some activities appear to work satisfactorily in the short term, they cannot be successfully sustained down the road.

Perhaps you think of sustainability mostly in terms of environmental issues, but I’ve come to realize the wisdom of applying the sustainability question to just about every area of life.

First, I started getting invitations to free seminars by financial planners who wanted to sign me up for help with my retirement planning. I soon discovered that every planner’s goal was to paint a dire, self-serving picture: Without their help in growing my nest egg, my current standard of living was unsustainable.

And then a number of my friends embarked on dating relationships with women who lived in other cities, states, or even countries. They had met their soulmate, they assured me, and I was very happy for them. But I couldn’t help but wonder about the sustainability question.

Recently I’ve also found myself paying more attention to people’s eating habits. In my younger days, I was a big fan of Krispy Kreme donuts, fast food, and the Golden Corral buffet. But now I see the price many of us baby boomers are paying for our lack of nutritional restraint in previous years. Of course, eating junk food won’t kill you in the short run—but it’s not a sustainable lifestyle if you want a healthy future.

As I seek to apply the sustainability question to these practical areas like finances, relationships, and nutrition, I’m seeing how this approach leads to greater maturity. While immature people take little thought for the future as they seek to satisfy their immediate desires, those who are mature understand the great virtue of delayed gratification.

Inevitably, there are consequences  to our lifestyle choices, even choices that seem rather small and insignificant at the time. Often, though, the full consequences aren’t seen until many years down the road.

As you survey your life today, do you detect any sustainability problems? Are you engaging in activities, habits, or expenditures in the short run that will bring about negative outcomes to your long-term happiness?

The good news is that you don’t really need a master’s degree to recognize the wisdom of the sustainability question. You just need maturity and self-discipline.

Ironically, this issue of self-control brings us full-circle—right back to Urban Planning. Solomon warns in Proverbs 25:28, “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”  You see, self-control and sustainability go hand in hand. The walls of our lives—and ultimately our cities—are broken down when we sacrifice our future for the pleasures of the moment.

Solomon adds in Proverbs 16:32, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Before we can successfully tackle the problems of our cities, we must first receive God’s help in conquering ourselves.

My prayer for you today is that, filled with God’s goodness and love, you’ll find joy that’s sustainable all the days of your life—and into eternity as well (Psalm 23:6).

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It’s All About Trajectory

“How are you doing today?” That’s the question I’ve often asked people over the years.

But I’ve concluded that this is probably the wrong question. I’m thinking of trying out a new query for the people I encounter:

“How’s your TRAJECTORY today?”

This is a much better question, isn’t it? Although I hope you’re having a good day, it’s much more important that the overall trajectory of your life is upward.

Perhaps your finances aren’t great  today, but hopefully they are better  than they used to be. You may not be in perfect  health, but I pray you’re keeping those New Year’s Resolutions to make your health better  than last year.

And the real  question about your marriage or your relationships with your kids is not how they’re doing right now. Instead, the question is whether you are sowing positive seeds today for a better trajectory tomorrow.

Not to get political, but I certainly wish Congress could pass a law to improve the President’s State of the Union addresses. Let’s get rid of all the campaigning, platitudes, and promises, focusing instead on one key question:

What is our national TRAJECTORY?

Perhaps we could even change the name of this speech to “The Trajectory  of the Union Address.” What do you think?

A Trajectory of the Union speech would have to give an explanation for the current trajectory of the nation’s economy, national debt, defense, and moral and spiritual climate. And to borrow a word from the Green Movement, we must ask whether the current trajectory is SUSTAINABLE.

For example, is it sustainable  for the United States to continue borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends? Try that with your own  budget sometime, and see how long you can keep it up.

How long has it been since you’ve applied the sustainability question to the various facets of your life? Maybe it’s time to ask whether your employer’s cash flow is on a sustainable path. Or perhaps you have to face the question of whether your church is on an upward trajectory, stuck on a plateau, or declining—with everyone just getting old and dying off.

Trajectory is a Biblical concept, after all. The pathway of a righteous person is supposed to shine “ever brighter” (Proverbs 4:18). As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, our trajectory should be a transformation from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). And since our destiny is to become like Jesus, we should show evidence of becoming more like Him every day (Romans 8:29, 1 John 3:2-3, 2 Peter 1:5-8).

Perhaps you’ve experienced times of failure in the past, but you can’t allow that to determine your trajectory today. And no matter how things are going at the moment, remember that you are called “UPWARD”  (Philippians 3:13-14).

If you’re not happy with your life’s trajectory today, there’s good news. We serve the God of resurrection and new beginnings. He can take a tailspin and turn it around.

But the trajectory question is a reality check. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.

 

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