The Intentional Year, Holly Packiam and Glenn Packiam. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2022.
Summary: An invitation to stop, assess, and plan around five clusters of practices that enable us to live purposeful lives.
It’s the time of the year we make resolutions out of a sense that our lives are not all they could be. It’s a good impulse as far as it goes. The problem is that, for most of us, it doesn’t go very far.
What we often lack is intention. The co-authors of this book, sharing out of their own yearly practice, suggest that we intentionally “stop for the purpose of moving forward.” They encourage us to take time, perhaps at the beginning of a new year, to assess our lives, looking back at our recent past, reviewing five spheres of life to think about what live giving practices or rhythms may help us flourish, and then establishing plans in each of these areas that reflect God’s word for us as we’ve assessed.
The book commends a three-fold process:
Reflection: First, we are encouraged to look back over the year, its highs and lows using the prayer of examen. Then they suggest considering what our review of our year suggests about what season we are in. Are there recurring themes? And through all this, are we hearing a “word” from the Lord. What do our trusted friends think of this word–do they hear the Lord in it?
Inventory: This involves taking a look at five spheres of our lives and the spiritual practices that undergird them. Are they life-giving for us, and if this is not the case, what practices might help us develop healthier rhythms? The five areas are:
- Prayer. The authors share several practices including psalm praying, silence, and lectio divina as new practices.
- Rest. Here, ideas for practicing sabbath are discussed and how this may cultivate a life of freedom.
- Renewal. Physical, mental, and emotional renewal are discussed, including setting aside time for reading and for gratitude.
- Circles of Relationship. We’re helped here to identify the concentric circles of relationships we have and how we might set priorities for these circles.
- Habits of Work. Vocation is briefly touched on, reflecting the intersection of God’s glory, the world’s good, and our joy, and then thinking about the shape of good work well done.
Action: The idea here is “making it stick. The authors walk us through the five spheres again in light of God’s word to us and challenge us to get specific with ONE practice for each sphere and what we will do daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly to implement and review our progress. Then the last thing is to get these plans into our calendar.
The book is set up so that it may be used over a weekend retreat or a series of day. The aim of developing rhythms of intentionality is to position ourselves under God’s grace to be fruitful. The co-authors conclude:
“That means the intentional year–your intentional life!–is not really about you. It’ s about how your life becomes good news for the world. The rhythms of prayer, rest, renewal, relationships, and work that you cultivate in your life are meant to produce fruit for the sake of others, gifts for the good of the church and the world. When you’re healthy, intentional, and living in freedom, peace, and purpose, others benefit. Yes, Irenaeus was right: The glory of God is the human fully alive” (p. 195).
Tired of failed resolutions yet want this to be a year of living well in Christ? This book offers a simple process, lots of practical guidance and examples, and reflection prompts and questions that can help you to be more intentional about your life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.