In the December Adventure Journal, I invited you to share with me any new disciplines or resolutions you would be undertaking in the New Year. I had a few responses to my invitation and I have been praying for you as you embark on these new disciplines. I also said I would give you a fuller view into my plans for 2018.
For several years I have created a spreadsheet that outlined goals for the New Year in a variety of areas: Physical, Mental, Emotional, Relational, Financial, and Spiritual. The spreadsheet includes a benchmark, a means of accomplishment, and a means of evaluation. The goal of the spreadsheet is to give me measurable goals to seek as I move into a new year. I have shared my spreadsheet in the past with Nancy, my Board of Directors, and my District Superintendent. The spreadsheet, though well put together, has not served my attainment of goals because too often I have put it away after a month or so, never to be looked at again. Like 90% of people who make resolutions each year, I fail to follow through with my goals. So this year, I have undertaken a new process in preparation of setting my benchmarks and goals for the New Year.
At the beginning of 2017, I was listening to a marriage podcast where the presenters spoke about a word for the year. They chose the term “Next Level.” As they moved throughout the year, many of their podcasts, social media posts, and conversations were guided to move them to the Next Level. I found the word for the year as an interesting concept to guide the year and establish a clear direction and purpose. In December, I started considering different words to make the final list for my “Word of the Year.” I came up with 15 words as my master list including words like: Intentional, Surrender, Contentment, Determination, Fitness, etc. Whittling the list down to a few words was difficult while also being life giving. I considered the way each word invited me to live and considered how each word caused me to focus better on the important parts of life.
As I spent time journaling in Haiti and when I arrived back at home from Haiti, I got my list down to three words and decided I would go beyond one word for the year and work with three words. The three words I will use to focus me in 2018 are: Best, Less, and Invest.
Best—In the history of the Church, there has been an emphasis placed on giving our best to God. This was often seen in the way people dressed for Sunday morning worship and even Sunday evening worship. I was raised in the time when this was beginning to transition. As I look at the way I have been treating myself, my health, my calling, my relationships, and my God, I have not been giving my best. This came to full reality to me when I was in India. I knew I was going to be speaking on at least two occasions, but I did not spend any time preparing for these opportunities. I leaned totally on what I had done in the past. Here is what I wrote after I struggled with my presentation at Sat Tal: “I am a broken man as I spend time at Sat Tal. I did my presentation on the Kingdom of God. It is a presentation I have done previously. I did not put any further study or effort into it. I see that I had more to offer if only I had been obedient, vigilant, and disciplined to study and listen for the Holy Spirit’s leadership in preparation. My brokenness leads me to a confession and commitment to surrender. From this day forward, I commit once again to study, prayer, and seeking the Lord. As I am vigilant and open to God’s leadership, may I see the fruit borne through his work in me. I need to trust the Lord in the midst of my living out His calling while doing the writing, reading, preparing, listening, and seeking His desires from me.” I commit to give my Best in everything in 2018…and beyond.
Less—It may seem odd to have best and then less. In John 3:30 we read, “This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines” (MSG). Or, “He must become greater; I must become less” (NIV). In a recent conversation with a friend, he challenged me to listen more and let other people teach me and help me. When he spoke those words to me it hit me in the depth of my being, and it led me to a place of considering how I need to become less so that the Holy Spirit can speak more deeply into me (whether in a still small voice or the voice of trusted mentors and people sent to me). Likewise, I need to get rid of/limit a lot of stuff (weight, lack of fitness, too many material possessions, wants, and times I say Yes). The idea of less is summarized well in the minimalist movement and Greg McKeown’s book entitled Essentialism that speaks to the minimalist lifestyle.
Invest—Invest goes to my desire to stop spending my life and begin to invest my life. Likewise with financial resources, I desire to stop spending and begin to make sure I am investing in experiences and relationships more than material objects. As I begin to look at what we are doing and what we are being in the ministry of Living the Adventure Ministries, I want to assure there are many opportunities to place the emphasis on investing and experiences. As I invest my life instead of spending my life, I become a better husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, etc. I also find myself becoming a better evangelist, missionary, and coach. Finally, and most importantly, I become a growing child of God as I invest more into my relationship with God.
What word(s) will guide you in 2018? Would you be willing to share a word(s) with me so I can pray with you? (firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-830-6670).
I commit to Best. Less. Invest.