By: Rachel Brown
One of my mentors gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me over the years. Andy Benton is the President of my Alma mater, Pepperdine University, and after I graduated I was seeking advice from him while I was searching for a job. When I asked him how to really stand out in the interview process, he told me that I needed to continually focus on being genuine and intentional. Specifically, he said that it is so easy to be above average in this day in age because people are no longer intentional with one another; they don’t write thank you notes or return phone calls or do other basic tasks that used to be considered common courtesy. Technology is to blame for some of this, certainly, but his observation was a good one, one that is reflective of the way society is losing touch with intentionality.
So in the midst of this tension, how do we remain intentional in all aspects of our lives – at work, in relationships, and with God? Here are some ideas.
Intentionality at Work
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Bon Appétit’s foodcast, and chef Bobby Flay was chatting with BA’s Editor-in-Chief, Adam Rappaport. Adam asked Bobby what he looks for when hiring a prospective employee, and he said the two criteria that he values the most highly are that the person is nice and driven. Everything else, he said, can be taught. I found that so interesting – here was this super talented chef who knows so much about food and the restaurant industry, and instead of yearning for a potential employee who has a long resumé full of cooking experience, he simply wants to work with someone who is kind, hardworking, and intentional.
Whether we have been in our role at work for several years or we’ve just transitioned into a new job, the best way to be intentional with our supervisors, colleagues, and clients is ultimately to treat them well. Follow up with emails, phone calls, and letters in a timely and efficient manner, letting the recipient know that their message matters to you. If a task takes less than five minutes to complete, do it now – that way, you’ll be less likely to overlook it and you’ll respect the time of the person who is receiving your work, allowing them to use it to move on to complete their tasks. Pick up the phone instead of emailing a dozen messages back and forth; though it may seem antiquated, sometimes chatting on the phone can convey ideas and tones far better (and far more quickly!) than email can. Tone is easier to understand via phone, too, as sometimes our true intentions can be misconstrued in written form. Overall, strive to be intentional in every act, ranging from filing an expense report and meeting a coworker for lunch to setting up your annual review and negotiating a raise.
Intentionality in Relationships
We can all agree that social media can be a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it allows us to stay up-to-date with loved ones who live near and far, giving us sweet peeks into their lives. It is a curse, though, because it can lull us into complacency, allowing us to believe that we’re being extraordinarily good friends by simply liking posts and sharing comments online and forgoing actual interpersonal interaction, when really we know that friendship requires more depth and intentionality.
So what are some tangible ways that we can illustrate our intentionality in relationships, both with loved ones near and far? We can start by really listening what our people have to say. Instead of becoming distracted by our phones or emails or social media accounts while talking with our family or friends, let’s put our devices away and really soak in what our loved ones are saying, giving good eye contact and providing feedback when it’s asked of us. Occasionally, in lieu of a post online or a text message, send a handwritten note in the mail. Carve out time for community, whether that means meeting your local friends for dinner on a regular basis or saving up to buy a plane ticket to visit a friend who lives across the country. Our relationships will blossom when we put in the time and energy that allow us to be vulnerable with one another. Our intentionality will breed rich, deep relationships that sustain us in the worst times and the best ones.
Intentionality with God
Creating habits will allow us to pursue true intimacy and intentionality with God. Think of it like exercise: the more often we set aside time to improve our health, the stronger we get. The same mentality applies to our faith: the more frequently we communicate with God, the stronger our relationship becomes and, as a result, the stronger our faith gets. Set a specific time in your day to pray or read or do a devotional. Perhaps it is helpful to choose a study or devotional that excites you – maybe one by your favorite author or spiritual leader – one that will motivate you to dig into God’s Word every day. Or you may choose to redefine the way you use your commute and commit to listening to sermons while you’re on the road, utilizing your transit time to learn more about Christ. Start journaling, join a small group, plug into a volunteer role – whatever your choice is, stick with it as you pursue this intentional avenue for deepening your faith.
Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller
Rachel is the Director of Project Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and their adorably large English mastiffs.