We’re currently standing on the precipice of something we cannot fully explain. We can sense it’s coming because it’s impossible to miss the signs that things are not right. At the same time, we don’t know how this “thing” will unfold. We can’t even name this thing we see right before us. We don’t know how it will impact us as individuals, communities, and a nation.
But there is little doubt in my mind that the coming decade will be one of significant upheaval and change with all kinds of cultural breakdowns and realignments. What we’ve experienced lately is only the very beginning.
Why is this?
The Breakdown of Institutions
We are witnessing the breakdown of virtually every institution we have come to depend on. (This is a hallmark of the idea of The Fourth Turning.) Think of all that is under tremendous pressure right now:
- financial world
- higher education
- K-12 education
- employment and the private sector
- government leadership on all levels
- race relations
- church and denominational structures and leadership
- political affiliations
- relationships between generations
- major cities
None of this fracturing is going to be resolved in a few months. I don’t think it’s going to be resolved in a few years. I believe this is going to be an extended period of intense change. It may truly take the better part of the next ten years to come out on the other side of whatever is currently happening.
Preparing for the Coming Decade
So what do we do to prepare for this coming decade? I think there are four areas where we need to take an inventory and begin making necessary changes.
These changes should be ones that make us resilient and able to withstand troubling times. The past few months have been emotionally and psychologically draining for many of us. Consider that this same level of intensity will likely continue on for years.
These changes also need to provide us with the greatest ability to pivot. Flexibility in all areas of our life is going to be tremendously important moving forward.
How do we go about this?
Simplify to Strengthen
We simplify in order to strengthen ourselves. By simplifying, we can devote focused energy to what is most important. And where do we simplify? I think there are four key areas to focus on that make the task seem more manageable. Those areas are:
I hope you will read what comes next with both seriousness but also with anticipation. You do have the power to make changes that will positively impact your life going forward. Every one of the suggestions I’m making below is a helpful suggestion no matter what is going on in life. I am writing this today, however, because I believe time is of the essence and the benefits of acting sooner rather than later may turn out to be profound.
Our faith sustains us during difficult times. Now is the time to both simplify and strengthen your faith. Get back to the core truths that you know. Strengthen your understanding of God’s love, God’s sovereignty, God’s care, and who you are in Christ.
Memorize Scripture. Start with relearning and refreshing verses and passages you’ve learned in the past. Add new ones. Have your children quiz you. As they listen to you recite the Scripture you are memorizing, they are also learning and hearing truth without even realizing it.
Jettison all of the fluff and distractions that have become a part of the church at large and get back to the real things of God. Immerse yourself in the Word, prayer, solid meat (books, preaching, and podcasts), and other builders of your faith. Rid yourself of things that tickle the ears and so-called Christian leaders who are more interested in being culturally relevant than feeding and protecting the sheep.
Find other believers who also understand the urgency of the times. Most churches are so shallow. Find a church with saints who have walked faithfully with the Lord for many decades. Learn from them before they are gone.
The economy is hanging on by a thread. It should have been allowed to collapse in 2008, but it wasn’t. Instead, everything has been continually manipulated until there is basically nothing left to manipulate. There is a fairly good chance that the next year is going to make The Great Recession look like a picnic.
Work to get yourself in the best financial situation you can as quickly as you can. Build an emergency fund. Pay off debt. Eliminate expenses. Take care of important repairs. Replace things that you don’t want to be without.
If you have things you want to sell, sell them now. There may be only a small window in which to act whether it is due to more lockdowns or an economic catastrophe.
If you can develop another stream of income (or even a few), now is the time to start. If you’ve toyed with the idea of starting a side business, now is the time to take a look at it. Consider ideas that will be of worth during difficult times. What will people pay for when they don’t have much? What do people need that you can provide? That’s where you want to focus your efforts.
Expand and improve your professional network. No matter what field you are in, begin making connections that are as free from political ramifications as possible. If your professional network is heavily tied to a particular point of view that could prove problematic, expand your network. Start developing relationships with people and companies of similar values and perspectives that will not be easily threatened during potential political unrest. Try to insulate your professional network from the possibility of being cancelled as much as you can.
Begin preparing your family for what is ahead. The battle our families will be facing is spiritual, financial, and psychological. Determine how you can care for yourself and your loved ones through prolonged times of difficulty and even upheaval.
Seriously consider homeschooling if you aren’t already. By homeschooling you can create a positive and deliberate family culture over which you have more control. The more you are dependent on the whims of governmental officials and school officials, the more your children will be forced to constantly adapt during already stressful times. Peaceful continuity may be an important emotional and psychological benefit for your children.
Establish or grow a family library with real books. Collect hard copies of whatever is important to you – books, movies, games, etc. Build up your supply of things you will need for your children whether it is crafts, learning materials, hobbies, etc. so your family can pivot if necessary.
Think long and hard before sending your children off for higher education. Explore options that are economically feasible and don’t require them to sacrifice their convictions and well-being simply to avoid harassment. Really consider if you want to send your money to support institutions of higher education that promote a set of values completely contrary to what your family believes.
If you have felt compelled to do so, get out of the city. If you live in a metropolitan area that is prone to unrest, find a way to move. Banks have tightened up lending in significant ways over the past few weeks which is another indicator that they are not optimistic about the days ahead. The window for moving may be very small in terms of lockdowns, looking at homes, financing, etc. Find a home that allows you to be outside and gives your children the opportunity to play freely.
By friends I mean both individual friends as well as your broader community connections. Your community could be your church, your town, your homeschool co-op, or your extended family. It could be a combination of them.
Start making a deliberate effort to strengthen the relationships that are most important to you and will also be most beneficial in the coming years. Look for new alliances and friendships that may prove helpful in the future.
Begin Simplifying Today
Today is the day to begin. Start taking small steps. Do one thing today when you get up from wherever you are sitting.
- Start brainstorming a list.
- Pray for wisdom.
- Decide which of the four areas is your weakest and tackle that first.
- Choose to Create a Better Life, Not a New Normal
Whatever it is, prepare yourself and your family for what will be, in all likelihood, a decade for the ages.