Sam, my grandson, was so excited. About a year ago he developed an interest in archery and began "shooting" regularly at a local archery range. Recently he got his first bullseye. He had come close many times, but this time he hit the target right in the center. He didn't do this by closing his eyes and hoping; he did it by learning to take aim. It is a timely lesson as we consider, "What will we aim for, for 2020?"...
In Acts 1:8 we are told that the disciples were sent to be witnesses for Christ "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Some have interpreted this to mean that they were to focus on their home, surrounding community, and world. At a personal level perhaps we could say we need to be mindful of our personal life, our family life, and our life in the community.
It has been said that "if we aim at nothing we will hit it every time." What goals are you setting for a new year? What are you specifically aiming to accomplish as 2020 begins? I'd be glad to share a few of my goals in each of these areas:
Personal: At a personal level two things are on my mind: First, I want to be more consistent and faithful in my prayer life. I do pray regularly, but I feel that things usually go better when I follow a pattern of beginning each day with a time of Bible reading coupled with prayers of petition, and concluding each day with a time of reflection coupled with prayers of thanksgiving. This goal is not entirely new, but I want to be more consistent in it and not let the busyness of my life crowd it out. Second, I want to re-establish my disciplines of exercise and healthy eating. There have been times when I have been committed to both of these and I am confident, with God's help, that I can be faithful to these efforts once again.
Family: I don't mean to sound morbid, but I know I need to get my life in order. I'll be 68 in February; though I don't know when, I know that retirement from pastoral ministry will come sooner than later. At present my wife and I are working on our Wills, developing a family Trust, and looking into options for housing and insurance for when we retire. My goal is to prepare, to the degree that I can, for my family's provision and security as I rapidly move into the later stages of my life.
Church: For my church I mainly want to focus on helping leaders develop a "process for discernment." Our world is changing and our church is changing. In my denomination (United Methodist) many decisions stand before us at the national level. We simply do not know what tomorrow will bring and I am not interested in devising a new "strategic plan." Rather, as a congregation I want us to learn how to "listen together in order to hear the voice of God." The only issue for the church that really matters is that we are faithful in moving in the direction that God calls us. Discernment, I feel, is a process that we must learn together.
Community: It may sound kind of vague, but I want to "let my light shine." More specifically, I want to let the light of Jesus shine through me. I am convinced that there are many who want to see and hear about the new life and hope that Jesus brings. I want to be open and sensitive to opportunities both to serve and to share with others how their lives can be changed through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Well, it took Sam a while; but he finally hit a bullseye. Achieving our goals is not always easy, but if we know what we are aiming for we can certainly move closer towards the target.
May God bless you all in your endeavors to serve Christ and grow in Him in 2020!
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.