This year has been the best of times and the worst of times. Yet through it all, God has been faithful to his promise––to continue to conform me into the image of Jesus. Over the holidays, I’ve spent time reflecting, and I want to share 14 insights I had for the new year as God continues to shape us all into the image of his son.
1. My most important ministry is not what I do for Jesus but receiving what Jesus has done for me. Instead of trying to validate myself by what I do, I’m validated and vindicated by Jesus’ glorious work on my behalf. This understanding guards against pride and despair and produces praise.
2. My second most important ministry is to love my wife. In 2014, several pastors I know had to step down from leading their churches because of emotional or physical affairs with female staff. Jesus has graced me with the sacred task of loving my wife as he loved the church, which means my ministry to my wife is more important than my ministry to my church. Ultimately it protects them both.
3. My third most important ministry is to love my children. I’m learning to love them by adjusting to the new season of life they are in as my daughter moves into adulthood and my son moves into high school next year. I’m becoming more of a coach or advisor who helps my children manage and learn from the consequences of their actions, both positive and negative.
4. Spiritual warfare is real; and therefore, praying Ephesians 6:10–20 and wearing the armor of God are essential to my effectiveness as a husband, father, pastor, and friend.
5. Leading and serving people can take a toll physically, emotionally, and mentally, so it's vital that I care for my soul. I am the CEO of my spiritual, physical, and emotional health. Exercising spiritual disciplines, having accountability, working out, and eating nutrient-rich foods are necessary to me fulfilling my gospel-potential.
6. The greater the risks that we take to reach lost people, the greater God blesses us. I know this to be true, but dang, it’s scary and challenging. Thankfully, it’s so worth it.
7. God wants me to be me, not anyone else. He wants me to preach like me. He wants me to lead like me. He wants me to write like me. The spirit of God wants me to want him to shape me into the person he created me to be.
8. Comparison is a great robber of joy. When we look to the left and to the right, we miss the blessings that are clearly in sight.
9. Working on my doctorate and writing a book at the same time was crazy! But I experienced God’s power in a beautiful way. I still have no idea how I wrote a 50,000-word book in 7 weeks.
10. I’m learning that one of the greatest signs of spiritual maturity is how people treat people who can’t do anything for them.
11. Joy is not something I can accomplish. Joy is rooted in being united to Jesus.
12. If you are a pastor, Logos Bible Software 6 is a must have. Spend the money and buy it. See it as an investment. It will give eternal returns.
13. I’m learning that I can spend my time or invest my time. Spending time is using it on things that will not help you accomplish your life vision, but investing time is using your limited moments to make it happen.
14. Life is too short to hold grudges. Plus, holding a grudge is like holding a 1,000-pound anchor while trying to swim. Swim in God’s grace and forgive people.
I pray that in 2015 the love of God would satisfy us more than ever, the grace of the Lord Jesus would be sweeter than ever, and the Holy Spirit’s presence would be more precious than ever.
Marinate on that.