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June-July 2014

Looking for Leaders

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Structure: Blessing or Curse?

by Norma Jackson Goldman


Can you recall a time in your life when your daily routine—the ordinary structure of your days—was turned upside down? Sometimes it happens during serious illness, a major move, the loss of someone dear, or even a change of jobs. In such times, rebuilding structure is critical to recovery, to adapt to the changes of life that are common to all people.

Without structure, some have a hard time even getting up. “What’s the point?” they wonder. Mealtimes are neglected or omitted altogether. Sleep does not come easily, and when it does, there is no real rest. Frequently, time with the Lord in prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship diminishes to the point that spiritual strength is depleted, making a bad situation worse. What follows is an unhealthy focus on self…our loss, disappointment, or personal pain.

Rebuilding structure is a matter of choosing to put self under the authority of God’s Word, which is filled with positive ways to build a new, healthy daily structure. How wonderful that God knows us so well that He anticipates our needs before they arise and that He offers exactly what we need at just the right moment. Both Psalms and Proverbs are exceptionally practical when creating and maintaining a healthy, balanced daily structure.

The basics—healthy eating, restful sleep, intentionality in our thought life and service—often precede progress on the spiritual front, but one usually feeds the other. Here’s how it works on a practical level. After the loss of her husband of many years, Janice determined to make changes in the structure of her life to bring her back to health physically, spiritually, and relationally. She determined to make new friendships among singles. She began attending a new Bible study class and offered to help with planning fellowship meals. She deliberately involved herself in worship, personal Bible study, and prayer even when she really didn’t feel like it. In other words, she set out on an intentional path to restore balance and harmony in her life through a structured, biblical approach.

This process takes time, and the blessings of success do not come overnight. Changes, however gradual, lead surely to improvements that become increasingly apparent to others. With the change comes a renewed sense of purpose, self-worth, and obedience to God’s plans.

When our focus turns away from personal loss, a changed environment, illness, or pain and toward God, His people, and their needs, something quite extraordinary happens. The opportunity for change allows freedom to make an even better plan for daily activities, priorities, and goals than the one previously turned upside down.

God never intended for His people to be slavish about structure—quite the contrary. The great majority of the Bible’s heroes found themselves in new environments, new cultures, new situations, and new places of service often confronted with new challenges.

To be enslaved to a daily routine is to miss opportunities God plants squarely in your path. No matter what your schedule demands, try to remain open to God’s leadership. It might be a great deal more important to minister to someone hurting than to finish the To Do list. The article I planned to write might not be nearly as critical as spending an extra hour or two with my daughter, my grieving friend, or a discouraged co-worker.

Creating positive structure allows us not only the freedom to set new priorities, but to partner with God in His kingdom purposes. We are charged to be “salt and light,” revealing Him, bringing healing to every person that falls within our sphere of influence. In other words…a blessing.


About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma J. Goldman enjoys a successful freelance career in her retirement. The award-winning writer lives near Houston, Texas. Learn more about retirement options at




©2014 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists