Thinking About Structure

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Structure in clothing accentuates positives and gives negatives less impact.

Structure with shoes prevents pain and discomfort from immobilizing and stealing energy.

Structure in writing brings clarity and makes ideas more appealing and accessible.

Structure at church provides a comfort level that allows acceptance of some discomfort.

Structure in a home brings the consistency needed to feel safe.

Structure in sports strengthens individuals and teams.

Structure means having a system, a form or a configuration for navigating life.

Structure involves the relationship or organization of component parts of a whole.

Structure arranges individuals parts in an organized fashion.

Structure allows for knowing what to expect and to depend upon, which allows for stability to navigate the unknown and unexpected.

Structure plus simplicity equals a powerful combination for productivity & impact.

Structure, or lack thereof, in a person’s thought life impacts all other areas of life.

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Structure in thinking leads to captive thoughts and renewing of the mind. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Structure grows and changes and needs periodically assessed in order to prevent a chronically overwhelmed life.

Structure provides an avenue for good ideas to flourish.

Structure helps confidence flourish.

Structure needs vary from person to person and situation to situation.

Structure for talking to God, though not required, can revive a person’s prayer life. (Matthew 6:9-13)

Structure keeps productivity alive when mood & feelings might otherwise kill it.

DISCUSSION:

Structure needs to exist, but how do we create & maintain it?

What struggles do you have with structure? What about successes?

What advice do you have for those struggling with structure (that’s all of us from time to time)?

25 thoughts on “Thinking About Structure

  1. I have trouble when structures become ruts or routines or traditions. No variation. No change. Discipline is good, but it can take on the evil of a two-headed dragon if we allow it to so control our lives we have no freedom.

    • I agree. Extreme & unbending structure can hold us captive. At the other extreme, lack of structure can allow other negative habits (or just lack of positive ones) to flourish. Balance is needed.

  2. While I like structure, my life is often full of the opposite. Have been in the outfield so to speak this week, not good for connecting with blog friends. When my life feels totally out of control with no structure it quickly shows in my attitude and behavior. On the other hand I struggle if it is too rigid. So you are right Balance is the key. And I find prioritizing the important things, like time with God, whatever form that may take, is essential is keeping things moving somewhat smoothly! Thanks Kari. shared on my FB page.

    • Thanks for sharing the post, Mary. Structure does need adjusted with the changing seasons of life, and it varies from one person to the next. My youngest needs lots of it (and someone else needs to set it for him) but really resists too much. My oldest creates his own structure, and it's rarely an issue of finding balance. I need some structure but resist it quite a bit too. My husband, well, he just adapts to everything so easily, structured or not. My point is to show that structure truly is relative, and we can't compare ourselves except for the purpose of seeking ideas & inspiration for growth.

      • So true. It is the comparison issue that gets us in trouble every time. We are all unique, right down to the DNA and fingerprints. Isn't God awesome! Sometimes it is the change I resist I think, because I get set in my ways as my mom would have said….so like her sometimes. Am reading a Beverly Lewis book and in it the character needs to learn surrender of will and humility. It is said they begin at age 2 to teach the children those characteristics. When we are older it is harder to adapt, even if it is for our own good. That is where it becomes even more important to turn and lean on God.

        • Turning to & leaning on God is the only effective way I've found to have any change stick in my life. Just prayed this morning about an issue I know won't be resolved but by His working in my life. I admitted my inability to gain victory in that area. I know I'm unable in all areas to do it on my own, but it's that on I've admitted today 🙂

  3. I think I needed this Kari. I know all the benefits of structure. I know how important it was in raising our children. Still my first reaction to the word is rarely positive. I believe it is my sinful attitude that unstructured freedom to move through my days instead of following an organized plan. One thing I structure into everyday is beginning with Word and prayer. Just adding that one bit of structure seems to set the tone for the day and the rest falls into place. So maybe I'm not as structure resistant as I think I am. 😉

    • One reason I wrote about structure is because of the negative connotations the word carries, undeservedly so. Structure gets a bad rap because of our misuse or lack of use of it. It also gets thought of poorly because we forget to adapt and change our structure in various seasons of life. I think when most people struggle with structure, it's because they don't figure out what their structural needs are. They try to fit into another's definition and creation of structure, and we all are very different. Sure, we have to operate within the same structure at times, but how we do that differs from one person to the next. Like you, I have to start my day with prayer & scripture… otherwise, any attempts to create a viable structure falls short because the foundation isn't laid (which gets at Mark's point in his comment.)

      • Kari, Your point on how many of us "try to fit into another's definitions and creation of structure" is so true. We grow up with our days structured for us and think that growing up is not having to fit into the structure mold. The best gift we can give our children in this area is to teach them how to become "self" structured under God.

        • Yes, it is one of the best gifts we can giver our kids. Sure, we have to live in structure created by others, but we have our own, unique ways we can do that. Our kids need to learn to be who they are; otherwise, they'll struggle with so much more than is necessary. Be who you are, operate in your own structure. My oldest has got that down pretty well. My youngest, well, he's learning.

  4. I started off life a very unstructured person. The longer I live, the more structure I embrace. Structure is a tool and not a slave master. It allows me to do the more creative, spontaneous things I want to do without resulting chaos. Good thoughts!

    • My story is very similar, Melanie. Like you I've learned (and am still learning) that solid structure provides the comfort that allows me to venture into the uncomfortable. It provides the stability that I need to be able to be spontaneous. It's a balancing act, but we must start with a solid foundation and structure.

  5. You build on structure. It often is the foundation that allows you to put something together. It helps determine what the final product will look like. It's the skeleton of life. Not enough structure and you have chaos. You can put things together without structure but it is susceptible to failure from different kinds of attacks.

    • Well said, Mark. We have our foundations, then we have structure, then we have everything else. We must have a solid skeleton – strong bones – in order for the rest of us to be healthy and effective. We also need to adapt that structure to the changing seasons of life, much like we have different nutritional needs at various ages. Great additions!

  6. I love structure for it makes me feel safe. But I can tell you when that structure if shaken and I don't feel comfortable then I am hard to live with. After living in a country without much structure flexible had to be present or I would not make it. Everything changes, everything except the Lord. Only His foundations are solid. Please don't get me wrong, I operate better when structure if working in my life. I like what Melanie said, "structure is a tool, not a slave master. Wisdom teaches us not to bury our tent stakes down too deep, we are sojourners on this earth not dwellers. There have been times I have just wanted to stay in one place so bad that I tried to move heaven and earth to make it so. I have learned to hang on to little in this life but that does not mean I don't fix every place we have lived in or set some guide lines to follow while dwelling. Building on God's structure will keep us from drowning when structure fails. Very good post Kari, made me think about my own life right here and now. You are a wise woman.

  7. I especially think of how important structure is in the lives of my children. I know that my children thrive when there is structure to their day, there week and even month. We are coming to a time when this will be difficult for us. We are going to the US for 10 months! That's 10 months of living out of a suitcase, well 7 suitcases to be exact! It will be hard to keep the structure as we travel but we will do our best.

    • Structure is definitely important for kids. And travel does make it difficult. You\’ll have to get creative, that\’s for sure. Your structure for the next 10 months won\’t look like what it has, that\’s for sure.

  8. I really like what you say about structure and the church! Very profound thought.

    Structure can be a bad thing for me as it tends to help me justify being stuck in a rut. I like things to go a certain way. I'm slow to embracing change. I like routine, I like rules, I like to know what's expected of me so I can follow it.
    All that, can lead to me being stagnant if I'm not careful. One thing that helps me break out of my comfort zones is having a relationship with Christ and trusting Him to guide me out of my routines.

  9. Yay, structure! One of the things that struck me about your list is that I AM structured in many areas of my life. That was encouraging to see because I think of myself as an unstructured person and know that it's one of the things i need to change. In truth, I have made more progress than I realized. That's good!

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