Being Intentional About Being Intentional


For a long time, I thought I lived with much intentionality.

I was wrong.

The team I’m a part of is currently reading through Andy Stanley’s book, Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. Through it, I’ve come to realize that my intentions in ministry, and in much of life, haven’t been all that intentional. I’ve developed habits that have increasingly decreased my level of intentionality and, more and more, I’m seeing the need to spend more time being consistently intentional and less time consistently faking it.

I may’ve just confused myself on that last statement.

Let me put it this way.

I need to consistently pursue intentionality in all areas of ministry and in life.


Even being intentional about the words I write in this article is tough.

Let me start again.

I’ve come to see that I need to be more intentional. Easy enough. I need to be intentional with how I interact with people I deal with everyday. I need to be intentional with those I interact with less frequently. I need to be intentional about the foods I eat and the words that come out of my mouth. I just need to think more about everything I do, I suppose.

Don’t get me wrong, I am intentional in many areas. With my kids. With my wife. In my job. Maybe I just lack consistency with many of those things I’m somewhat intentional about.

I look back at my time as a pastor and I search for moments and seasons when I was intentional. I remember some of those times but, if I’m being honest, I’m left questioning myself because it seems I may have been intentional in many of the wrong areas.

I fought hard for the things that weren’t as important and didn’t fight for the things that were.

It’s a consistent battle. And one that I need to be more intentional about.

POSTED ON May 30, 2013
  • David L. Gill

    Good thoughts. What does being more intentional look like? As someone unfamiliar with the book in question, I’m not sure how I need to be more intentional because your post talks about *what* you need to do without giving the reader any idea of *how* that would look. I’m also curious to know what believing the Gospel looks like in your case where you realize that you’ve let people down in ministry because of an intentionality deficit.

    • Thanks for the reply, David. And good questions. However, and I’m sure this will disappoint, I don’t think there is one solid answer to your question. I’m still trying to find out what being more intentional looks like for me. The book, which I suggest for anyone in leadership to read, just poses a bunch of questions to ask yourself and your ministry team. When I read it, it made me think of my current position in the church as well as past leadership roles. I wish I would have been asking myself some important and more direct questions back then that I’m asking myself now. What it comes down to is that I was just asking the wrong questions. Maybe trying to ask better questions is a start to becoming more intentional in our lives.

      • David L. Gill

        I guess that’s my point. One can’t be something one can’t define. “Bo, it’s important to exhibit less sanguinolency; in fact, it’s imperative that you abstain altogether if you wish to do effective ministry at all.”

        But what the heck does that word mean? Moodiness? It kinda has “sanguine” in it which we use now to talk about a personality type. One could build an entire book around this word without defining it and co-opt it.

        In reality, to be sanguinolent means one is “addicted to much bloodshed.”

        Without having an actual definition, intentionality might as well be sanguinolency. It seems like Stanley has renewed your vigor to do things deliberately…but without a practical example, it doesn’t…well…have the punch it otherwise would.

        If you’ll permit me, just one brief example: I’m a worship leader. Every worship leader I know personally complains about vapid worship music. So awful, they say, that we let people sing things that are the spiritual equivalent of a cheap, knock-off Snickers bar.

        Great!, I say. And then I say, Songs like “Breathe?” I mean, what does that song even mean? Of what value could such lyrics be? But that’s when the fight starts…”Breathe” is great!, they say. So even though we *may* agree on a general principle, of what use is the principle if we can’t even agree on what that might look like concretely?

        I’m all about asking questions (as it might be clear to you with my very long-winded response). I agree that it *probably* helps with intentionality to ask oneself very serious questions about what we’re letting slide. And maybe this type of blog isn’t designed to hear about an individuals personal stories of ministry. But if you could give examples of where intentionality failed and where the Gospel picked up the slack (as it often does), it might be more helpful to those of us who are going into the ministry so that we know how to steward what we have.

        Just some thoughts from someone who appreciated your article but has a lot more questions. 🙂

        • Thanks again, David. I think you might have misunderstood me, though. I didn’t say I can’t define my own situation. I am reminded, on the daily, my failures in ministry. On the contrary, I could give a pretty accurate account of my own situation, with an abundance of examples, but I’m not sure that would entirely help anyone pertaining to intentionality in ministry. It might just make things more complicated and frustrating. Maybe people should instead seek out what that means for them personally.

          Take for instance, having a child. I could point you to countless books and classes and share personal experiences until I can no longer speak, but until someone experiences the practicality of having their own children, explaining it just doesn’t do much good. How can we be intentional about something we have never personally experienced? Maybe that’s a pretty broad statement, but I believe, at least in this case, we need to learn what it means to each of us personally. Could I have shared from personal experience, sure. And, on this site, I’ve shared some. But I didn’t see the benefit. I just wanted to open the door to thinking and dialoge instead.

          This site is actually a great place to share personal stories of those in and out of ministry, as long as it meets the standards set in our mission. I’d encourage you, and anyone else who might want to share their story or experiences, to do just that.

  • Jerry D. Smith

    Bo…I’ve read tons of things on being intentional, and I completely get what you mean. Sometimes we end up programming so much of our lives that we are intentionally doing things we never intended to do. So…this was posted 2 years ago. Any clarity yet as to what you should be doing intentionally? I’m actually preaching this weekend about that exact topic…

Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors, a community that strives to offer help, healing, and hope for expastors, pastors, and church leaders, and author of Why Pastors Quit. As a media professional with more than 15 years of experience, he has developed marketing and brand strategies that have revolutionized churches and businesses, both large and small. Bo left full-time ministry after serving more than a decade in churches in Oregon, California, and Iowa. He is also a writer, filmmaker, woodworker, husband and father.