This devotion is based on the scripture in Ecclesiastes 12:13 - "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all." (NKJV)
Recently, I’ve been enrolled in graduate school to complete an M.B.A. (Masters in Business Administration). The major emphasis of my MBA program is Project Management. In learning about the various details and intricacies of leading and managing a project, I’ve found a number of ideas … interesting.
Whether you are building a house, adding a room to an existing one, developing a new computer game, or just figuring out how to pay for a vacation, all “projects” have many things in common. Each is a series of tasks designed to be done in such a way that the project’s goal is reached as efficiently as possible. All utilize “milestones” to provide checkpoints along the way – to give you an idea of how you are doing as you progress towards your goal. The more you look into this; you really come to see that all projects, from building a tree house in your backyard to designing a nuclear submarine, employ a very similar approach.
The key thing about projects is that all of them, regardless of type or complexity, have one major thing in common. All of them start out by clearly defining their scope. You cannot begin a project without first knowing why? What is the purpose of this effort? What will be the desired end result? How will success be measured? While all the various pieces and components of a project are important, none is more so than the project’s scope. Every task is measured against it. You’re constantly asking whether a task helps the scope, or hurts it? Without a clearly defined project scope, it is too easy to have your project drift, to have it fall out of scope. So many projects fail not because they don’t have talented people on them or because hard work was not given to them. They fail because they did not have a clear scope to provide a guiding standard each step of the way … or because the defined scope was not followed.
Our lives are very similar. If you take life as a series of projects, one could look at growing up, going to college, getting married, raising a family, etc., as small projects in the overall scheme of life. But if we take “life” as a project, we are then faced with asking the question … what is our project’s scope? The basic “why are we here?” This scripture provides each of us with a scope for the project we call “life,” – an aim and purpose by which all other efforts can be measured. We are simply told to … fear God and to keep his commandments.
The word here for “fear” does not mean fright or terror. When fear is used in relation to a person (here to God) it means to “stand in awe” or to have reverence for someone. Here you are recognizing the power and position of the individual revered and are rendering proper respect and honor. The word also implies, and this is key, submission – not just recognizing God as the higher authority but bowing and submitting to Him.
Not a bad scope for your life … to measure every decision, every choice, every pursuit against whether or not it truly reflects a reverence for Almighty God. And let’s not forget the next part … “and keep His commandments.” Interpreting that part is a little easier. Simply do what He says! So let’s put this together. Live a life where every effort feeds and supports a goal of showing respect and honor to the Lord and doing what He says to do. Similarly, it would also view any effort, any desire, any want or pursuit that doesn’t support that ideal as … out of scope. And if yours efforts are continually out of scope, your project (a.k.a. your life) can never be successful! In fact, this not only supports the goal of being “successful,” here we are told this is our “all.”
Now, stepping away from the technical concepts of project management … we were created by God with a purpose. Your specific purpose is probably very different from mine. However, each of us has the same underlying foundational purpose – one that should guide every aspect of our lives. We were created to bring praise and glory to God. Any pursuit that doesn’t support that is against why we are here. We were also created to follow His commandments (and they truly are commandments, not suggestions). All our decisions should reflect that we understand this as not just a good idea but as the only thing that can give our life meaning and purpose.
So many people spend great amounts of energy and time looking for their “purpose in life.” While finding a specific vocation is a worthwhile pursuit, along that journey it can be very settling to know that the basic reason for our being has already been laid out for us – to give God glory and honor with all that we do and in all that we do, to do what He says. Keeping that goal clearly in front of you, at all times, will help you successfully manage, and complete, the project we call life!