THREE COMMITMENTS I AM MAKING FOR 2019
If you’re like me, the end of the year prompts both reflection and resolve. As I think about where I am in my life and what I want to be, I’m making three commitments. Maybe at least one of them fits your life and ministry too.
1. Be Authentic
I am who I am, and I will continue to be that and nothing more. Why? Because when I am truly me, I help others truly be themselves.
I realize the real core of me is not going to change. I am who I am in Christ.
Again and again I talk with people who are tired of bumping up against people who are faking it, trying to be something they are not. People want to know who you really are.
I’ve discovered that authentic trumps slick all day every day. And so my goal for the new year is to help others become honest with themselves about themselves by showing that authenticity myself.
2. Be Innovative
I would rather innovate than imitate. You may have seen or heard me say that before, and I’ll say it again. And I’ve come to see how closely this point follows the first one. The best way to be innovative is to be authentic. If you don’t know who you are, all you can do is imitate. And knockoffs break quickly.
Joey Santos and I consulted with a prominent megachurch about their plans to create an online campus. We were one of several congregations they had contacted, all of them prominent and successful. But they weren’t interested in just copying what others had done. Here’s what was written on the whiteboard in the conference room where we met: “Make sure we stay true to us.”
That’s the point. Just because it works in Arizona or Indianapolis or California doesn’t mean it will work for us—or for you.
Sunday I got to play drums with our worship team, because another of our staff members was preaching. In rehearsal we tried playing the songs with tracks professionally produced by others, but it wasn’t working. Finally we ditched the tracks, and and then it came together. We played better when we made it our own instead of trying to follow someone else’s version.
Not everything fits your context. I believe now more than ever in contextual innovation. Let your innovation grow out of a consistent effort to be real about who you are. That’s my goal for the new year.
3. Be “Right Now”
I’ve quit telling people I’ll pray for them. Now, when they ask me to pray, I ask them if we can stop and pray in that moment. As much as possible, I’ve stopped telling people to call for an appointment when they say they need to talk to me. If I’m not walking onto the stage to preach or involved with something urgent, right then I ask them what’s on their mind. More often than not, we can complete the conversation on the spot, without waiting for an appointment sometime in the future.
And I’m trying to make that the pattern for my whole ministry. I am seeking a “don’t put off until tomorrow what I can do right now” kind of leadership.
“Right now” helps when I’m faced with the need for a difficult conversation. It’s not good to let a problem or misunderstanding fester. When you deal with an issue right now, you often prevent a small flicker from becoming a raging inferno.
“Right now” helps decision-making too. It’s true, of course, that major decisions take time. You must gather the facts. You must consider the possible outcomes and reactions and problems. But “I need all the data” can keep you from ever coming to a decision. The greatest failure is not being willing to take a risk.
Meanwhile, the culture is moving at breakneck speed. If we dally, we’ll lose the chance to make the right decision, because soon the opportunity will have passed and then we’ll be facing a different problem.
We probably had enough information to make the call, but even so the project might have failed. That’s OK. That failure would have taught us something important and helped equip us for the next decision. Failure to act teaches us nothing.
And we would have exercised faith. The opposite of “right now” too often is “depend on myself.” I’m resolved in the coming months to guard against depending on myself, because I’ve learned how often that just doesn’t work at all.
Which of these commitments have you already made? Which could make the biggest difference in your life and ministry next year?