There is a longstanding tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions. Ancient Babylonians are said to be the first to engage in the activity some 4,000 years ago. By the 17th century, this became common. A New Year’s Resolution is now seen as something a person does to continue a good practice, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year%27s_resolution). Most people abandon their resolutions within a month or two into the new year. So, how can people sustain their efforts to make the changes they desire?
This blog is addressed to pastors, specifically. But anyone can adapt and use the concepts presented here. I believe every pastor should find a time to pause from their normal routine to think about how their life and work will make an impact in the world in the coming year. Here are some suggestions.
Instead of calling them New Year’s Resolutions, how about setting some goals? One mistake people make is setting too many goals. This can become overwhelming and cause people to give up. Why not start with just one very important goal in a few categories? When you achieve that goal, celebrate and set another one right away. In the area of goal setting, less is truly more because more is ultimately achieved.
There are four priority categories in which I suggest every pastor prioritize goals. First, every pastor should establish a personal spiritual goal. Whether it be to read the Bible through, establish a daily routine of personal devotion, or be intentional about solidifying a positive character trait, every pastor should establish a personal spiritual goal.
Next, every pastor should establish at least one personal goal. Continuous personal development is vital if a pastor is to continuously move to the “next level.” What books will you read to nourish you mind? What skills will you focus on to improve? How about your health? How will you alter your eating habits or exercise regimen? Every pastor should have one or two personal goals.
After personal goals, family goals are vital. Too often, pastors sacrifice their family on the altar of Christian service. And once done, there are some things you can never get back. Time with your family is more important than time with your congregation. You must do your job. But it is your family that will be with you when the congregation is gone. So, how will you minister to your family throughout the coming year? How will you endeavor to meet their needs?
Finally, there must be one or two goals for the church. Not many goals. Only one or two very important goals. Every church has blind spots that must be addressed. Remember, the church only has one mission. We call it the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). In this digital-forward ministry season, almost every church needs to shore up its digital footprint to be more effective in advancing the Great Commission. Websites and social media platforms must be upgraded and properly managed to make them the assets they are meant to be. Consider whether there are elements of your website that need to be updated so visitors have current information about the impact you are making. Think about what might be done to activate more members to join the effort to make life better for others as they help make disciples of Jesus Christ.
To make progress, we all must focus on just one or two goals to take the next step toward more effectiveness. When achieved, remember to celebrate and immediately set the next priority goal.
So, there it is. Instead of flimsy New Year’s Resolutions, let us set a few priority goals in a few categories to improve our own lives and change the world.
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