How To Overcome The Dark Side Of Lists From John Piper

How do you approach your day? 

Do you live and die by your "to do" list, or do you take your day as it comes?  

Boy do I sometimes wish I could take life as it comes. I am just so not that type of person. I am more characterized my the former of the options above, list obsessed. I am so committed to the idea that I take lists and the like to the extreme at times.

While I believe strongly in the power of habits and that accomplishments are by and large a result of the habits we cultivate, there can be a dark side to it all.

What is the dark side of list keeping?

Allowing the list to be the priority and believing that just by keeping the list all your dreams will come true can be an easy trap to fall in. One I've fallen in many times myself.  

Lists are great tools and can help us achieve many good and right things, but shouldn't be our end all. They are incredibly limited in their power and can crush you if you're not careful. 

Thankfully John Piper offers some truly helpful and insightful help to us in this 10 minutes of audio. It is perhaps the single most important 10 minutes of preaching I've ever heard. It is an excerpt from a 2004 sermon entitled, What Is The Will of God and How Do We Know it?, in which he discusses among many things the only way we can live the Christian life. 

Here is one of my absolute favorite paragraphs found near the end of this talk. Tell me this doesn't encourage and challenge you at the same time. 

"I don’t buy and large live my life by lists. You try to live your life by lists, either the lists will be ridiculous in its shortness compared to the 10,000 things you do each day or it will be so long you would die. There is only one way to live the Christian life. Don’t be conformed, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. It is our only hope. Life is too spontaneous. You just can’t live it by lists. You can’t live it even by the 10 Commandments, because 95 percent of the time you are doing stuff without reflecting on whether it breaks any commandment. You are just doing stuff. My biggest challenge is: Piper, be new. Be new. Just get at the core of my being. If there is any stuff, junk, pride, left down there that is just causing the stuff to come out unbidden and unplanned, get at me down here, Lord. That is the only hope, isn’t it? So concluding exhortation. Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Saturate your mind with it. I don’t know another way."

This short clip of audio has had a far greater impact on my life than any other, and I pray that it is just as impactful for you today. We can't afford to live our lives clinging too closely to our lists. We must have transformed minds, it is our only hope.