SERVE MORE, SAVE MORE, SUCK LESS
I’ve discovered my life will be richer and my ministry more effective if I set goals for myself. I’m talking about personal goals, in addition to the goals leaders are setting for our congregation.
But setting the goals is just the beginning. Checking myself against my goals is key, of course, and June 1 prompted me to look again at the goals I set in January. Let me share them with you and tell you why each one is important to me.
• My family. I’ve vowed to be fully present when I’m home, to engage with my wife and daughters instead of crashing on the couch or finding some other way to isolate. I put my phone out of the way when I come in the door for dinner. I’ve started walking about an hour in the evenings, and often some or all of my family walks with me.
• My staff. It’s easy to give directives, make requests, or seek support. Some of that is necessary, of course, but my goal is to find ways to bring more value to and take less from our staff members.
• My church. My goal is to live in the “right now.” The tendency is to focus so much on the future that we don’t take time to celebrate what God is doing among us this week. He’s doing much. My goal is to stop and notice and to tell others when I see him working through all of us.
• My community. I’m discovering ways to serve our community, as a member of some local boards, for example, where most of those sitting around the table with me don’t go to church anywhere. This allows me to “be Jesus” outside of the church building and away from church groups. I’m finding ways to serve with no expectation of anything in return.
It happened again last week. The salesman on the phone was offering a lower credit card rate, and he asked me how much credit card debt my wife and I were carrying. When I told him “none,” he was speechless. “You don’t know how many I call who have accumulated $20,000 or $30,000 on their credit cards,” he said. Laura and I pay off our credit card balance every month. Are we in the minority?
Before every purchase my wife and I try to ask, “Why do I really need this?” So often there’s really no good answer. Spending less allows us to save more, and saving more allows us to give more. We have a plan to save so we have resources to live a more generous life.
We’re paying extra on our house payment, and our goal is eventually to eliminate all debt completely.
Sometimes small efforts make a big difference. That’s how I’d describe my goals in this category.
• I’m remembering to laugh more with my family. Laughing helps us not to take ourselves too seriously. It bonds us together and helps remind our girls that home is a safe place. And it’s fun!
• I’m working to stop dying on small hills and stop needing always to be right. When I was young, I wanted to be an attorney, and you know what attorneys do: they must argue their position even if they believe it’s wrong. I’m sorry to say I’ve had a tendency to do the same, and I’m working to put that attitude behind me. Today I believe the best idea in the room should win; and it may not be mine.
• I’m committed simply to love those who refuse to love me back. I realize I am not everyone’s cup of tea, but I can love all people unconditionally. This goal includes holding no grudges. Life’s too short, and holding grudges simply takes too much energy.
• I want to suck less energy from people and give more life to people. As I work on the first three goals in this category, this one will be easier to achieve.
I’ve written these goals in a journal, where I can review them regularly. At the bottom of the page, I wrote this: “The Word of God must penetrate my soul in 2019! Without it I will be a selfish spender, sucking life out of everything and everyone in my life.” And this: “Church growth is not based on better strategy but on better disciples. Disciples always make more disciples!”
And then I added my “life verse,” Jude 23: “Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment.” That verse is the foundation of all the goal-setting I do.
So, what about you? What goals did you set in January and how are you doing with them? It is one thing to write them down, but without reviewing them, you will rarely follow through on them. Now…GO ROCK YOUR GOALS!!!