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I love the title of this blog “Living in the Design”. When I read it, I couldn’t help but think of the buzz phrase that has been floating around in the world of educators. My daughter is a teacher and I have heard her say “backward design” a few times. I don’t know much about it, but when I think backwards, I think of it as being in reverse or opposite of the usual order of things. One definition reads that it is “towards or into a worse state.” It sort of has a negative connotation to it. In education, backward design is a term used to describe a method that is designed to set goals before choosing the instructional methods and forms of assessment.

knowing where you want to end up

The idea is that you should know what you want your students to learn before you begin trying to piece together a lesson for them. Knowing where you want to end up can be extremely effective when you stop trying to focus on all the necessary steps it takes to get there. In other words, you travel the path without wavering or becoming distracted by things that may look appealing but aren’t helpful or necessary to reach the desired outcome.

Have you ever tried to assemble a child’s toy or a piece of furniture and found yourself beyond frustrated? If you are like me, you toss the instructions and begin looking for the picture on the box. What usually happens after a few hours of frustration, is that I rummage through the packaging to find those “useless instructions” so that I can try to figure out why I have so many leftover pieces….nuf said… It can be very useful to see a visual design of something in its end state, but it’s also necessary to assemble, evaluate, read the next step, and then assess once more to ensure you are following the process that will get you to the desired outcome. All the while, keeping your eyes and mind set on that picture that shows the product fully assembled.

Unfortunately for most of us, we are so busy in life that we barely have time to enjoy the moment, much less actually process the failures and then produce an action plan to keep it from happening again. But by focusing on the outcome, “backward design” continues to remind you of what it is we are trying to accomplish. For example, let us say your intent is to rear your children with a God-fearing Faith and in their adult life you want them to be faithful and committed to church in attendance and with their finances. This sounds like a very basic goal for any Christian parent. Easy right? Not so fast. What about, when the select baseball team asks if your child can participate in their “invitation only” game on Sundays throughout the spring season, you might find yourself compromising. Or maybe it's dance, and the competitions are all on Sunday, or even so- the fishing team has some of the tournaments on Sunday. If your child wants to participate, they will have to participate on Sunday. Sadly, the world no longer acknowledges Sunday as being the Lord’s Day, or even acknowledges that it is one of the Ten Commandments. It’s actually the fourth commandment of the Lord, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-10. The world system has successfully taken the Ten Commandments out of our school and our courthouses. The world says it is no longer important. It’s easy to forget the original goal and we may experience an inner monologue that sounds something like this… “This season won’t matter too much; we can get back on track later with our church commitments. We will pick back up with our tithes once we do not have so many fees and expenses.” Suddenly, you have veered off course. You have compromised, and once you compromise it gets easier and easier to align yourself with the world and get further and further away from the Lord. Your original goal was to teach your children and rear them with a God-fearing Faith that would guide them and help build their faith for their adult life. You wanted them to be faithful and committed to church in attendance and with their finances, because you know that God's word is the road map for our lives and you know if you want to achieve your goal you must follow His direction. If we get off course, we will fall short of reaching our desired outcome. God's word is true, we cannot pick and choose which part of God's word we want to apply to our lives. If we only choose the part that is convenient, we will fall short of our goals.

I believe that by keeping this method in mind, it can lead us into a life that is more closely aligned with the Father and His will for us.

I have been in ministry for 35 years. As a pastor’s wife, I have met with countless individuals that share their hearts after a tragedy or life challenge that could have been avoided. They often say, “How did this happen? Where did this all go wrong? I wish I would’ve seen this coming.”

You see, I don’t believe God meant for us to live moment to moment, hoping and wishing and living on a prayer. I don’t believe we are meant to make decisions in the moment or to be impulsive in our actions. After our recent Bible study titled- “Putting on the whole armor of God,” I am sure that he meant for us to be strong in our faith, intentional in everything, and plan with an end in mind. We are in a spiritual battle. I believe He wants us to think about our future and know how we want our lives to be lived. We need to ask ourselves, what are we trying to accomplish for His kingdom? If we can set these kinds of goals for ourselves, then we can focus on using the tools that God has given us, to fight for what He has promised us. His promises are yes and amen.

Be ready to fight the spiritual battle with the tools he has given us

In Proverbs 16:1 it says, “ The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. This shows that proper planning includes acknowledging God’s sovereign will and the fact that we still have limitations. The Lord wants us to plan, then be ready to fight the spiritual battle with the tools He has given us. He is a good father and would never send us into battle alone or without being equipped. We have a job to do, we have to pick up and RIGHTLY apply the tools that God has provided. He has given us the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, shield of faith, sword of the spirit and the shoes of peace. However, there is something for us to do, we actually have to apply them to our life. We must be honest with ourselves about what we want our life to look like in the future. We need to know what and who we are fighting for. But most importantly, we must evaluate our plan to ensure that it aligns with our heavenly Fathers will. If it is not aligned with God's truth and God's way, then we can not expect to have a Godly outcome, we will have an outcome that is aligned with the world and we will reap a worldly outcome. A Godly outcome provides a peace that only God can give, joy that can only be known through God, and a rest that surpasses all understanding.

If you are not experiencing that, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you to follow the backward design method.

  1. First and foremost, am I saved? Have I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior? If not, what are you waiting for?

  2. Am I ready for Jesus to come back or is my life aligned with the world so much that I am just not sure I am ready for Him to come back right now? Are you thinking I just need a little more time to do My thing?

  3. What kind of children do you want to rear? You have two choices (aligned with the world or aligned with God)

  4. What kind of relationships do you hope to have with your loved ones and family members?

  5. What kind of wife do you want to be?

  6. What kind of employee do you hope to be?

  7. How do you want to be remembered by your loved ones?

Of course, the list goes on and on. You see, if we look at what we want our life’s result to be, and we align our life with God's word and God's way now, we will be pressing toward that outcome. With God's help, the life that God has for us will be achieved. Paul the Apostle, in Philippians 3:14 put it this way, "I am pressing toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." I believe, Paul might have already invented “backward design.” Lol. He had a goal and he was pressing toward that outcome. I would like to challenge you to design your life backwards. Write down these goals and then evaluate them in a few months. Are you pressing toward the outcome of your goal? Are you using the tools effectively? Are you seeing the positive results of making RIGHT choices while standing on the Whole Truth of God for yourself and for your family? If not, you may have gotten off course, lets dig those step-by-step instructions out of the trash and realign, reevaluate and get serious about what’s important!

Happy Day!

Leslie West, Pastors Wife

Hillister Assembly of God

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