Structure in Life

Years ago, I taught developmental writing classes at a community college. When students came to my writing class the first day, they lacked confidence not just in their writing abilities but in their ability to even learn to write well. After all, those entering a developmental writing class in college typically either failed miserably in high school writing class or had not seen the inside of a classroom for over 20 years.

Right away, I encouraged students to trust the process. If they did, they would learn to write and communicate more clearly, a great benefit in whatever career paths they chose. I focused on teaching structure in writing that transferred easily to whatever situation their future jobs presented.

As I encouraged students to trust the process of learning to write, I also worked to provide a consistent classroom structure to help them feel safe while building trust. I believed this structure would go a long way in not only developing them as writers but also in preparing them for life in the real world.

Little did I know that years later this same approach would also provide much-needed structure for my own kids both in their schoolwork and as individuals. The idea of consistent structure proved immensely helpful for my youngest son who, until we adopted him at age nine, knew nothing of structure.

In addition to experience in the classroom, years working in business services and from watching my husband climb the corporate ladder illustrated the necessity of structure for business success. Then, when my kids started playing organized sports, the need for consistent structure once again proved itself important.

Structure in the Bible

Scripture also supports the need for structure. The Old Testament law attempted to provide structure to keep the Israelites from losing focus on God. Paul provides structure for speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:27. Several scriptures, Old and New Testament, provide structure for making decisions about tithing and giving (Numbers 18:25-29; Deuteronomy 26:1-10; Malachi 3:6-17; and 2 Corinthians 8-9). Even details about end-time events (Daniel & Revelation), while still quite mysterious, provide structure helping to identify the unfolding events leading to Jesus’ return.

Whether in the classroom, the corporate world, the baseball team, or a home, structure provides a safe arena for growth. In fact, structure is so important that God’s Word exists as a guide around which we can structure our living.

The Absence of Structure

Perhaps the best way to understand the need for structure, though, exists in considering its absence.

I sometimes lose my sense of structure because of travel and changing schedules. Mostly, though, structure eludes me when I fail to adapt to change. The result is struggle in those I interact with regularly and loss of my productivity both physically and mentally.

We need structure. We need the comfort of what to expect in order to be willing to experience the discomfort of growth. Some people need more structure than others, and needs vary by situation. Some people need others to establish structure, and some do well establishing their own. No one’s needs for structure are exactly the same, but everyone needs it to some extent.

We need healthy ways for Creating Structure in our lives. We need to include essential elements of structure and know what to expect with appropriate structure. It’s also helpful to understand why, even though we need it, we sometimes resist structure.