What's your agenda?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Everybody has an agenda, mom," my son Jack told me one day. We had been talking about his work and people in general. Since I like to look for the good in the world rather than the unpleasant, I tried to shed a positive light on the statement.

"Oh," I said. "You mean that everyone has a reason for doing what they do."

"Yes, that's right," Jack answered. I breathed a sigh of relief because that declaration could be taken in many ways.

After the conversation I pondered what Jack had said. Having an agenda can mean numerous things depending on how you take the connotation. You could say that people have an agenda signifying they expect something out of you when they perform a favor. One might believe there is an ulterior motive behind someone's actions, especially when he is particularly nice. However, I choose to judge the words in a different way, one with which I can agree.

My opinion on having an agenda is that it is a worthy accomplishment. You create an agenda when you make a grocery list, conduct a meeting or plan a vacation. Everyone truly does have an agenda, whether they realize it or not. When you visit someone, your agenda can be deciding why you're going, making the effort to actually perform the action, figuring out how you're going to arrange to see them, and maybe what you're going to talk about. It can simply be that you desire to ease their perceived loneliness, want some information, or maybe you need some cheer. You could simply feel obligated because you haven't seen them in a while and you want their company.

Another value of having an agenda is that it is a way to arrive at where you to want to go. Without an agenda for your life, you merely drift from one whim to another. You must have a purpose to attain a goal. Then you are required to take the necessary steps to reach it. Nothing that is of value comes easy.

Some people dislike those who are rich because they think the rich were given their wealth. That may be correct in some instances, but many worked for what they have. Without the presence of those with wealth the world would be in jeopardy. If you are fortunate to have acquired a lot, that too comes with a price. Those who have much are expected to give much and to help those less privileged. The wealthy also have to learn how to manage what they have and decide how to best use their blessings. They have an agenda.

When you go grocery shopping, browsing for clothes, tools or whatever else you want or need, you are going looking for a reason, with an agenda in mind. In other words to have an agenda is to have a purpose, a plan. Hopefully it is a good and valuable one.

God created the world with a plan and a purpose. He constantly found new reasons to make changes in his creation until he reached his goal. He saw that Adam was lonely so he made a companion for him, Eve. God's agenda included air, grass, trees, water, land and animals and fulfilled other needs of human kind. He tried to incorporate the necessities and add beauty to his world, too. God filled the requirements he saw for the universe. He crafted it with precision and care. Scripture tells people how to think and plan. Ephesians 5:15 says to "Look carefully how you walk, live purposely and worthily and accurately and not as the unwise and witless, but as wise people."

An agenda means having a steadfast plan, a reason and a goal for your actions. "Let your eyes look right on (with a fixed purpose) and let your gaze be straight before you." (Proverbs 12:5)

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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