I’ve always been a fan of lists. 

I have “to-do” lists that I write and follow each week, and each morning I break down the day into a checklist of what needs to get accomplished. I know lists aren’t for everyone, but they sure help me stay focused and productive, even when circumstances sometimes cause the list to be altered or tossed on any given day.

The past couple of months I have been on break from week-to-week ministry, and my days have been filled with enjoying Minnesota, time with and projects for my family, a new recording project, and lots of good books and reading (all of which were on my “to-do” list for the summer!)

One article I enjoyed reading was penned by Matthew McConaughey, a well-known movie and television actor. I was excited that he is also a fan of lists, and in the article he revealed a top-10 list he composed several years earlier. The first item on his list noted his desire to grow in his relationship with God, and the second was to find the woman of his dreams and love her the rest of his life. Others had to do with career and life goals, many of which had come to pass—most notably his marriage to wife Camila and the reinvigoration of his faith. Like Matthew McConaughey, I love reading lists that I wrote months or years earlier to reflect on and thank God for how He has worked in my life.

After reading the article I realized it had been some time since I last wrote a list of the goals of for my life, and decided the time was right to do this. Rather than hurriedly slamming together a list, I chose to first spend time with God, through prayer and in the Bible. to listen to what He wanted for next part of my earthly journey. 

The result was weeks of writing in a notebook that eventually spilled over into a second one. The notebook was filled of lists including:

  • The attributes of God, as I behold and worship Him each day:
  • The many thanksgivings for what God has done, is doing, and will do in my life, family, and ministry;
  • The names of people God has put on my mind;
  • Pages of specific prayers, big and small, with updates;
  • Hopes and dreams that I have for my life, family, church, music, and ministry.

Finally, over the past couple of months—with God’s leading— I arrived at the “Top 10” list for the next chapter of my life. The biggest development in creating this list was that there is nothing in it that has to do with my “career”. Don’t get me wrong:  lists can be healthy and useful. However, there is the danger of creating lists that venture into the ugly territory of using God to get what we want. That practice is essentially idolatry, where we put ourselves and our heart’s desires above God. 

God-honoring lists seek Him and His kingdom first, while also offering up our hearts and desires to Him to fulfill, change, or delay as He sees fit. In my time with God, He led me to a number of Scriptures that have informed and sculpted the important things I desire for the next chapter of my life. Here are some of the Scriptures that have spoken to me:

” …[God] fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” (Psalm 145:19)

“…Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

In my next blog I will share some of the items on my new top-10 list along with another list that came to me. I hope this will inspire you to take time before God and allow Him to speak to you about the next chapter in your life!

God bless you.

Chris Atkins