Focus on a To-Be List, Not a To-Do List


Christian teaching tells us we aren’t saved by our works, but rather by faith. By becoming reborn in Christ with a renewal of the mind, we therefore need to focus first on what we should be. Then doing the right things will follow.

Be a new creation in Christ

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:17

While it is important to do good as a Christian, the Bible tells us being a “good deed doer” isn’t what is going to get us to heaven. Instead, we must have strong faith and be Christ-like in our thinking. It’s not about what we do – it’s about hearts and minds.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

– Ephesians 2:8-9

As Christians, what we want to be is filled with the Holy Spirit, a new creation in Christ, ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Our words, thinking and outward behavior are determined by what kind of spirit resides within us. If our hearts and minds are in the right place–if we are who we should be as a Christian–then doing the right things will naturally follow as a result.

The Bible defines the signs of the Christian spirit as:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

– Galatians 5:22-23

Get your head and heart right

Before you start focusing on doing good deeds – you first need to get your head and heart right. If the above “fruit of the spirit” is not a good representation of your overarching nature, it’s time to do some self-improvement work.

While some people are good at manipulating others – behaving in one way when actually thinking and feeling another – they can only fool all of the people some of the time. You might even be able to delude yourself for a time. But you can never fool God.

Create your to-be list

Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis recently posted a list he encouraged others to share, listing 30 “practical ways we can all make a difference.”

Several of his tips offer ways we can improve ourselves and should be part of our personal “to-be” list.

Here are some of those as well as other suggestions. Your personal “to-be” may also contain additions that are right for you. What follows are some tips to get you started.

Be kind to people.

Be loving.

Be helpful.

Be grateful.

Be thankful.

Be patient.

Be a good listener.

Be encouraging.

Be sharing.

Be a volunteer.

Be there for people when needed.

Be compassionate.

Be mindful of others’ feelings.

Be complementary.

Be self-sacrificing.