Each new year brings with it a sense of hope. We have this hope because the new year is blank slate, and that means it is full of possibilities. This is what the future is for us – a collection of possibilities.
For many of us, we look at these possibilities with optimism, because we believe we can finally experience the life we want to live.
In spite of this hope, many years do not live up to our expectations. We fail to make the changes that we want to make and we don’t do the things we want to do.
Too often we find ourselves stuck in the current of life, as we are swept away in the expectations, crises, and responsibilities that fill our days. We never seem to get around to transforming our lives.
In his book Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard focused on spiritual formation, the way Christians can experience true transformation in their lives. Willard wrote that there is a pattern the brings about transformation. This is true for physical, emotional, as well as, spiritual transformation. This pattern can be summed up in the simple acronym VIM. VIM stands for vision, intention, and means. (p. 85)
I have found this acronym helpful as I have taught on and pursued transformation. Many of us benefit from having a strategy or a plan to help guide our steps, and that is what VIM gives to us.
What does it look like to have VIM a part of lives?
- Vision: This is where it all begins. We need to visualize the type of life that we want to have. How would our lives be different if we were physically fit? What impact would it make if we prayed daily? What would it be like to be out of debt? By visualizing what life could be like if these changes happened, we start to increase our desire to have that type of life. We also begin to understand the steps required to bring about transformation.
- Intention: The key to intention is moving from a want mindset to a will mindset. Many of us want to have our lives transformed. We understand how our lives would be improved if we lost weight, if we got out of debt, or if we prayed every day, but there is no plan for achieving them. Intention is saying, “I will do this,” and not, “I want this.” It is putting a plan in place to achieve our goals, it is making the choices that will make our goals a priority, and it is saying “No” to every thing that might get in the way of us achieving our goals of transformation.
- Means: These are the proper activities that will bring about the transformation that we seek. If we want to be physically fit the means are eating nutritionally and engaging in exercise. If we want to grow in faith the activities include the spiritual disciplines of fasting, prayer, giving, and service. Without the proper means we will fail to train our minds and bodies to behave in the ways we want them to.
How do we start this process?
Take some paper and a pencil and list the areas of change you want to see happen in your life. Pray over the list and begin to visualize what your life would like if those changes happened. The top two or three that seem the most appealing continue to visualize what that would mean for your life and then begin to change your language. Instead of saying, “I want this to happen,” begin to say, “I will do this.” The next step is to organize your life to allow for the appropriate activities to bring about transformation in your life.
Transformation doesn’t happen by accident. It takes work, and if we are not willing to engage in the work, then we will miss out on the full life that God created us to live. Live with VIM and experience the transformation God wants to bring into your life.