I think there are about seven things to keep in mind, to make part of your daily review. First, I want to explain why I think seven is about the right number for your daily review. Second, I want to encourage you to commit to the daily review. And third, though this may seem out of order, I want to encourage you to find your seven things for daily review.
People who have studied the Bible with me know that I like to find those places where numbers are clearly significant. Seven is one of those numbers in the Bible, like the seven days of creation and the repetitions of seven in the book of Revelation. (In fact, one of the things you can do when you are reading through your Bible in a year and come to the book of Revelation, is mark in the margins the various sevens mentioned, such as, the seven churches, blessings, trumpets and so on. How many groups of seven do you think there are?) While I am attracted to the symbolic meaning of having seven things we review daily, I think there are practical reasons for identifying seven things.
Seven seems to be simply a practical number of what we can keep in our mind. George A. Miller wrote an article, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” which was originally published in The Psychological Review in 1956. The article is worth Googling on Bing and reading for yourself. He points out through various studies how our brain seems to hold on to about seven things. More than that and we tend to forget and lose sight of some of the things we are trying to remember.
There may be hundreds of things we could consider important to know and do to have a full, meaningful and successful life. But we can’t keep the hundreds of things in our mind as a useful compass for advancing through our daily life. The “baker’s half-dozen” may be manageable and useful. And who knows, there may some spiritual advantage in this also. Seven is the right number for your daily review.
I think you need to commit to doing a daily review. At the start of our day, it is useful to be reminded of what is important and what we really are about. Some people don’t keep a list yet seem to stay on track through their life. I wrote awhile back about Papa Don’s inheritance. His life seemed to have been on track as though guided by a list of seven things, though I don’t think he ever kept such a list. The character qualities and life outcomes are consistent as if he did keep a list. And what some people can do without such a review list, others such as myself, need the list. I think most people would be benefited by doing a daily review.
In the premarital and marriage counseling I have done, I try to get couples to identify seven important priorities in their life. These priorities tend to combine their values with how they spend their time and money. One priority for many people I counsel is church. Church is priority to these people because of spiritual values they hold and therefore they are willing to contribute financially and be involved for worship and some other activities. Our lives then, are filled with the activities of these Baker’s half-dozen of priorities. At various times in life, when things are going pretty well, it can be easy to think that we can add more priorities in our life because we have the money for them. But when you add one priority you push a previous priority out of the way. I share the insight I received from a young man who, years previous, had been in the Junior High youth group class I taught. Neat kid. You could tell he would go on in life to be successful and likable. It was no surprise when he and the pastor’s daughter in that church ended up getting married. It seemed like a match made in heaven. But a number of years later I saw him at the local Peet’s Coffee and Tea shop. They got divorced. I asked what happened, what counsel he would give others. He said that when a couple is dating, everything they do isn’t so much about the activity but about each other. Their blocks of time are their relationship. But after getting married, the relationship became the mortar which held disparate blocks of their own interests and activities. Their relationship had gotten squeezed out until there wasn’t enough mortar to hold the blocks together. So, for premarital counseling, I have simplified his comment into a principle that we have time for about seven major priorities. And when we add the boat or the cabin or the new career, other things get pushed out into storage, maybe even the kids or our spouse. A new thing or a new priority isn’t necessarily wrong but we should know the real cost and make sure that we stay on course with what is really important in our lives.
The daily review is a way to be reminded of what is important and therefore what is to be pursued and guarded as we go through life. I think my friend could have had an excellent marriage if they would have remained in sync with what was really important in their lives. Commit to taking a little bit of time every day to remind yourself of what is really important, of where you have come from and where you are going. There are many uncertainties in life and we don’t know what lies ahead. But we can at least verify we are on course for what is really important.
I think it is only when we are committed to review what is important that we are set to discover what should be on the list. When I have share this commitment and practice with others, they want to know what is on my list. I am afraid to tell them as it could lead them to copy what I believe are my seven things and thereby miss out on discovering what is uniquely theirs. And even if we do share all seven things, and perhaps many would have near identical lists, there is something powerful when we figure it out for ourselves instead of just being told. Still, we can consider an example in what I think needs to end up on the top of everyone’s list.
I believe the first of the seven life principles for review has to be God and his kingdom. Jesus tells us the great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. And he reasons the priority of this first principle with: What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? When we have our first principle in mind, a lot of the rest of life falls into place. Matthew 6:33 is good, practical advice: Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness and all the other things will be added to you. As my friend who got divorced discovered, even the number one gets pushed out of place and loses relevance when you get too busy. This is why I find it important to review seven things every day. And the first of those seven things is that I have to keep God first in my life.
As I have done the daily review over the years, this first area of my review has varied some. The major principle is the same but I find, at different times in my life, different aspects of my relationship with God need to be affirmed and kept track of. So now as I think of this first priority, I am thinking of how I need to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn of him and then to be more aware during the day of staying in step with his leading. The priority also has activities which suggest themselves. So I try to take time each day for reading the Bible and to write out a prayer. But the more important aspect of the first priority is not the activities but the quality of being a life compass as I go through the day.
I hope your first principle would also be to put God first in a real and practical way. And I think you might benefit from hearing my list of the remaining daily review. But, again, it wouldn’t be a good idea to just tell you my list. Who knows I might convince you, and then where would you be? You need to give some thought to what should be on your own Seven Things Review Card. As you draft out your own list, then it makes more sense to talk about what is on our cards. I am sure we can learn a lot from each other. I made some adjustments to my list after thinking about Papa Don’s inheritance which I wrote about awhile back. The things each person shared are things I want to remember and incorporate into how I live my life. These are things I needed to make sure I review each day. Please join me in doing the daily review. Discover your list of Seven which will become an inheritance to people who know you and love you.
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