Is It Too Early To Begin Planning?Â
I know that the second week of December seems a tad early to begin discussing the new year, but I typically use the down time between Christmas and New Years to contemplate the next year. But with new responsibilities and ministry planning, the next year already weighs heavy on my heart. So as I prepare to spend time with family, finally buy my Christmas gifts, and celebrate Christâ€™s birth, I also begin to think about the new year.
God in His grace gives us newness; new days are given after a nightâ€™s rest, new growth is seen as the seasons of the year change, and new years are given to be used for His glory. If you have not had a good year, or if you seem to be reacting to life instead of moving the rudder of your lifeâ€™s ship, then consider the following as you approach the new year:
Six Items To Consider As You Prepare For a New Year
1)Â Â Pray. It seems obvious, but God already has your year mapped out, so why not see what he says about your next year. Are there things that you find yourself foolishly repeating year after year simply because you didnâ€™t spend time with the Lord? Before we begin to plan our next steps, we must consult the Lord and His plans for us.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 â€œFor I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare2 and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Â Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13Â You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.â€
2)Â Â Develop Your Calendar. It has been said, â€œIf you donâ€™t control your calendar, then your calendar will control you.â€Â As you chart your next season of life, begin by taking your yearly calendar and adding all of the big annual events (vacations, ministry events, family events like anniversaries and birthdays, and conferences).
Once you have yearly events, then move to monthly, and then weekly. But before you add all the events from last year to the calendar for this year, you must prayerfully consider each one. How will you evaluate if you need to do this or that event again, on the same scale, or the same way?
Make sure you put as much information as you know on the calendar. There will be events that you do not have a specific date for yet, but try to place it as close to the date of where you think it will be held. By having all your events on the calendar before you, you can also evaluate if there will be simply too much going on, or if more things can be added to the calendar. Perhaps, an alternative is to move events around until you find the balance between the two.
3)Â Â Along with your events, simultaneously, develop your budget. How much will you need for specific events, trips, or ministry efforts? You may find that you need to scale down an activity or that you have the ability to do something else or to do the event on a larger scale than you once thought possible. Â Like air in a clownâ€™s balloon, you can twist all the links into it you want, but there is only so much air and the balloon can only stretch so far.
4)Â Â Consider your own personal goals and need for growth. If you are finding yourself feeling â€œburned outâ€ spend some time asking the Lord, â€œWhy am I feeling this way?â€ or â€œWhat am I doing regularly that is negatively impacting my life?â€
It may be that you are spending too much time away from home, or not enough in devotional time. It will be different for everyone, but now is the time to plan out how you will not continue to do these same things. You donâ€™t have to feel tired, depressed, worn out, etc. all the time.
This is also a great time to consider the needs of your family. Just as the seasons change, so do the needs of family. Each year brings itsâ€™ own set of problems and challenges, and so as you prayerfully plan your budget, calendar out events, and set your personal goals, also consider how your family has changed in the past year. Avoid excessive activity, and build in family time, or special time with a child that may need some extra attention. Your first responsibility is to your family, and then to ministry.
New Years Resolutions
For a person to keep a New Yearsâ€™ resolution it has to be rooted in the person having a genuine need and the person seeing the benefit of keeping the resolution. Your praying, planning, budgeting will bring needed resolutions to your attention that if you make these changes will help you to be healthier, happier, more rested, and growing as a person.
5)Â Â Review the past year. I keep a journal where I record detailed notes ofÂ meetings, planning lists, journal entries, ideas etc. and I when I go through this time of planning I review these journals from the previous year. I am reminded of ideas that I had forgotten about, people I need to develop relationships with, projects that have been completed, or even goals that have been met.
These journals are encouraging because I am able to see how God has answered prayer, provided what was needed to complete various ministry projects, and carried me through one more year of ministry. They are a reminder of Godâ€™s faithfulness.
Unlike a previous yearâ€™s calendar, a journal reminds me of thoughts and feelings. There are some items and information that I will transfer from an older journal to a new one, but for the most part each journal is a step forward into a new year.
Regardless of your method, how will you review the previous year?
6)Â Â Contentment but not Satisfaction. This is not about â€œwe had 20 last year, so this year I want to have 40.â€ Or â€œwe had 6 groups last year, so this year I want to have 12!â€Â Wanting more people, money or â€œequipmentâ€ simply because thatâ€™s how the world measures success is not a good way of determining a direction in ministry. This method is rooted in pride and will be quickly abandoned when things get difficult.
We should be content with where we are, being the person we are in Christ, and in the position we hold, but we should never be satisfied in our level of quality and service to the Lord.Â So, we are not to look for the next bigger and better thing, instead we are to look for ways to constantly improve what we are doing for the Lord.