Best Intentions

(Written September, 1998)

I lost a good friend last week.  He was someone that I had counted on for many years, because he was always there whenever I felt guilty or misunderstood; Recently, I realized that I had been deceived by my “friend”, Best Intentions.  He had constantly lied to me.  He had led me to believe that if I was intending to do a project, make a call, write a letter, or help a friend, the intention was nearly as good as actually doing it.  For example, one time I had the best intention of starting an exercise program and a proper diet, but I never got started.  However, because my mind was filled with these good intentions, I had convinced myself that I had not failed.

When I give a job to one of my employees, sometimes they will respond at the deadline time by saying, “I’m sorry, I intended to get it done, but I just did not have time.” When my children were young, they said several times, “Dad, we were just so busy playing that we forgot to do our chores.  We were going to do them as soon as we finished our game.”  In both of these cases, I was right to correct them.  They also had a friendship with Best Intentions.  However, when I used the same excuse, I was far more forgiving to myself, because I knew that I really did mean to do the task. Yes, the mind is a terrific motivating factor.  Thinking may be the basis of action, but it does not take the place of action.

When I have good intentions to do something necessary and worthwhile, and yet procrastinate and don’t do it, my actions are an admission that I really didn’t think the task was important.  Either, it is actually a far lower priority than I realized, or I have not exercised the discipline to keep my priorities in line and stay on schedule.  Most of my best intentions are things that I believe others have deemed important, but by my actions I count them less important to me personally. But I can’t deal with the guilt of admitting that my value system is different than others, so I rationalize my actions by continuing to hold these activities as best intentions never done. In the above example about starting an exercise program, my doctor, my family, and my friends agreed that it was the right thing for me to do. My inactivity proved, however, that a new exercise habit was not as important to me. I simply kept talking about how I was going to do it sometime.

So, last week I took the first step and I booted my “friend” out of my house.  I decided that if I won’t do something within a certain time period, then I must admit that it is not really a priority to me.  So, I will take it off my best intentions list until I change my value system.  I won’t allow my “enemy”, Best Intentions, to lie to me by making me think that something is more important than my actions demonstrate.  This may produce more guilt in my life, but at least it will make me be honest in my intentions.

How about you?  Have you been intending to start a project, establish a worthwhile habit, visit a family member, call a friend, or spend time with a child or a parent?  Were your best intentions to start back to church, to save money for that special need, or restore that relationship?  We are really deceived by two lies:  (1) that someday we will accomplish our best intentions, and that (2) there will always be time (a tomorrow) for us to do them.  Let’s all burn our long lists of best intentions.  Just pick out one of them and do it today.  It is far better to just do one small thing, than to hope someday to do ten great things.

Starting With One,

Matthew 23:3 (Message)
“You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior.”


About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

2 Responses to Best Intentions

  1. Shirley Mears says:

    This article is timeless. Thanks for sharing great principles!

  2. Cathy Westm says:

    Since I’m in NYC area and we’ve had a bit of a blizzard… what a wonderful article to read while staying safe & warm. Thank you.

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