Pastor, Is Your New Year Plan Well?
As you ponder the New Year, undoubtedly you have sought God’s plan for the church, the ministry, and the growth of the saints. But, what about you? If you do not have plans for personal growth, you will be the same person in January 2012. Surely, your family and parishioners deserve more than that.1
An honest evaluation of your strengths is critical to comprehending placement in ministry. Vocational frustration can be limited by understanding what you are gifted to do. Knowledge of self and calling provides a firm foundation for planning and engaging God-honoring ministry. These strengths provide comfort and peace, particularly when careful reflection is made upon the Giver and the purpose of such giftedness. Strengths can be great liabilities if not grown accordingly. How many leaders have failed because they relied upon past success and preparation, rather than sharpening their ministerial tools? Someone has wisely said, " Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard."
Obviously, not everyone is gifted to do everything. The body analogy of Scripture makes this salient point abundantly clear. Yet, rather than always ignoring weaker areas, perhaps direct attention should be given in an effort to cultivate development. For example, some in ministry do not regularly preach, but inevitably they will be called upon to do so or be asked to publicly teach the Scripture. Should not the future opportunity of proclamation propel the minster towards preparation? Intentional learning is a discipline that must be cultivated for godliness.2
The 12-month calendar allows regular opportunities for fresh starts. As a new decade dawns, a higher plateau for reflection and hindsight is granted. The attainment of set goals can be evaluated, joys can continue to be celebrated, ministry privileges can be deeply appreciated, and missed opportunities can be addressed.
Setting measurable and attainable goals is a wise use of time. Without proper planning, ministry and life will run beyond the needed margins and take flight to the demise of the minister and his family. Goals provide boundaries and guidelines. Sharing them with others enhances a team concept and provides an arena for accountability.3 Goals help ministers say "yes" to the great and "no" to the good. Goals provide filters for making decisions and highlights the innumerable time-wasters that inevitably strive to diminish biblical vision. Ministry goals should always be set with an important thought- "What is best for my family?" Refusing to do so may well lead to church "success," but such is not biblically equivalent to faithfulness. If a minister does not pastor his first flock at home, every other flock is then led by a man who is at best, divided in heart, and at worst, is spiritually immature.
Priorities. You must regularly evaluate what is important to you and make the necessary adjustments. Have you done so for 2011?
Purpose. In part, contentment is established by finding peace in purpose. Are you humbly engaging your calling with the steadfast assurance of your role?
Passion. Fervor for ministry must be continually fueled to fan the needed fire. Do you embrace ministry with a zeal that is generally not impacted by the ups and downs of pastoral life?
© Jim Fisher, Ph.D.
Christian Education and Leadership Concepts, LLC.
Fit for the Fight, December 2010
1 Much of the information is taken from the author’s dissertation: The Relationship between Selected Disciplines of Physical Wellness and Spiritual Wellness among Southern Baptist Pastors, 2006.
2 Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 233.
3 Patrick Lencioni, Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team (San Franciso, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005), 61.