It is the custom of our culture to greet the New Year by making resolutions: self-promises to bring focus and direction to our lives as we face the canvas of a fresh new year. Some resolutions are revolutions, as people vow to make radical changes in their life to fix what has not been working in the previous years or even before that. Revolutions often fail because we are not true believers of a new world but merely creative reactionaries against the old one.
Some resolutions are merely wishes, not even dreams. They remain merely wishes (if they are not simply forgotten in the bustle and busyness of a new year) because they are neither grounded in an honest self-appraisal nor connected to a practical plan for their achievement.
My best experiences in planning for a new year is to spend some honest time reflecting upon the one through which I have just passed. Let me share some of those which I believe might be helpful beyond my own circumstances and character.
1. Dianne and I started the new year (2013) waiting for a new job to which I was committed; but by its arrival I would have been out of work for seven months. For three and a half months we lived in the home of a dear pastoral friend from seminary, Dennis Hall and his wife Ruth. Their gracious hospitality made the waiting doable and along the way we found the incredible value of friends, especially those who have the gift of hospitality.
Reflection: A person’s life is immeasurably enriched when they have friends who are more concerned about what you lack than what you require of them. Find those friends. Embrace them. Appreciate them. Imitate them in your dealing with others who need a friend.
2. I have worked since March as the Intentional Interim Senior Pastor. My job is take a church, assess its strengths and weaknesses, help it resolve its conflicts. correct its shortcomings, embrace a fresh vision, and wait patiently for their next leader. It is a job where candor is essential. People need the truth. It is one where you need to name names and take prisoners, i.e., you need to help controlling and misdirected be accountable to the common good. But in the process you need to believe in people and help them believe in the vision God has for them.
Reflection: People and groups need the truth in order to be healthy and whole and fruitful. Our capacity for rationalization and denial are incredible, and incredibly destructive if someone does not speak the truth to us. But those who speak the truth must speak the truth in love or defensive walls go up, instead of destructive ones coming down.
3. Dianne and I entered the year with the knowledge that the home we were making would be temporary. If were successful, like John the Baptist we would have to decrease so someone else could increase. We knew where we would live but did not know where we would dwell. And as this year has processed, we know that next December we will not be here. But by the nature of our job, we will not really have a clue until just a few weeks before this assignment ends. Although that leaves us with uncertainties and questions, we are at peace. We do not know all the answers but we know the One Who does.
Reflection: People find rest, security and peace not in a place but in a relationship. When we have a relationship with Christ, we know that nothing will separate us from Him and any place we must go, He will go before. If Christ is your “home”. you will always have a home.
(C) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn
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