Happy New Year Everyone! If you’re like me, every year you make some resolutions of some sort. You may not make them public but you probably make some sort of promise to yourself about what you’re going to do different in the coming year.
As a pastor, I’m sure some of your goals for this new year involve being a better Christ-follower, leader and, well, pastor. With that in mind, I’d like to suggest the following resolutions to help any pastor.
With God’s Help in the Coming Year…
1. I Will Make Time for God
It’s hard to explain to others that live outside of the ministry that you can actually find yourself so busy doing things for God that you don’t actually have time to connect with God. Not only is this counterproductive in so many ways but it’s also absolutely contrary to what the Lord wants us to do. How can we be His servants if we’re never near Him?
We must make time to spend with Him. This sort of thing won’t happen automatically. We must carve time out of our schedules to seek Him and listen to Him. Certainly we must retreat for times of prayer throughout the year but we must also learn how to prioritize regular daily times with Him. Beyond that, we must learn to foster spontaneous times with Him throughout each day.
2. I Will Make Time for My Family
A good deal of the time, the family of a pastor gets the short end of the stick when it comes to the pastor’s time and energy. Even if you’re really trying to watch it, schedules often get tight and when they do it’s the family that gets asked to make the concession because, frankly, your family loves you more than anybody else and they are often far more understanding (and forgiving) than others in dealing with the shortfall. This is a prescription for disaster.
Don’t take advantage of your family’s love for you. Instead, determine in your heart to love them and lead them and just be with them. They’re far more important.
3. I Will Read the Bible for More Than Just Sermon Prep
Pastor, you and I both know that the Word of God is the fuel we need to make it. It’s absolutely life-giving to everyone but it’s even more of a necessity for those of us that regularly pour out so much. The problem is that we can often confuse spending time in the Bible preparing sermons with solid devotional reading,
My experience is that these are two very different things and that when I use the excuse that I’ve already spent time in the Word today (when it was only sermon prep time) I rob myself and eventually leave myself in a vulnerable and weakened state.
4. I Will Not Allow My Church to Be My God
Over the years, you’ve probably taught something at your church about priorities and how important they are. You probably told your people to put things in and order along these lines; God, Family, and then Work. The problem is that for those of us in the ministry, God and Work are very similar and can often and easily blur together. This is a huge pitfall and it is one we must fight strenuously to avoid.
We must be very conscious about drawing a line between the Lord Jesus and His Bride. We must determine in our hearts that we will not worship the Church instead of the Christ.
5. I Will Have a Life Beyond the Ministry
The ministry is a high calling that much is for sure. It can be a challenge being in the ministry but through it all we know that it’s a royal priviledge to be called to serve the Lord. At the same time, I think the Lord wants us to have a life beyond the ministry. He wants us to live lives and meet people and experience new things. If we don’t, we will become stale and ultimately less effective as ministers.
If nothing new ever happens to you, you will not have any new life experiences from which to draw illustrations, Biblical insights, or prayer points. You’ll become less and less effective at communicating to, ministering to, and interacting with those folks in your community that do have lives. And, you’ll become quite the bore in the process.
In short, all work and no play makes pastor Jack a dull boy. (In other words, enjoy your family, get a hobby…and a life.)
6. I Will Develop Authentic Relationships with Other Pastors
Let’s be honest here. Pastors being authentic with other pastors doesn’t happen much. Normally when pastors get together there is so much posturing, positioning, and networking going on that very little true community happens. At the same time, pastors need, and crave, community like anyone else.
What further complicates community for pastors is that it’s hard, if not impossible, to take the pastor hat off with people at your church. Pastors may attend small groups but, for the pastor, a small group meeting is rarely a meeting of peers. It’s more often just another opportunity for the pastor to ministry.
Pastor, it may be hard to find but you’ve got to do whatever you’ve got to do to develop and maintain life-giving, authentic relationships with a few other pastors. Find some other people in the ministry that will be real with you and make the time to strengthen those relationships. It’s worth whatever it costs you. It will help you stay in the ministry. It will also help you enjoy life more.
7. I Will Get My Self-Esteem from My Relationship with God
God intends for our self-esteem to come primarily from our relationship with Him. I think He also wants a small amount of it to come from other key relationships in our lives like those with your spouse, kids and key close friends.
Often, we tend to try to find our self-worth and identity in many other things and that, in the end, will destroy us. Your self-worth shouldn’t come from how well you preach or what the crowds think of you. Remember, crowds are fickle.
Your self-esteem should come from butts in the seats, baptisms, budget numbers, buildings, blog posts, or social media buzz. All those things will come and go. They will leave you cold when you have them and depressed when you lose them.
Find yourself, your identity and your worth in the Lord, and those that truly love you.
May God bless you all as we start 2012 together!