What comes to your mind when you think about 2019?
Fear? Many go into new seasons with fear of the unknown.
Complacency? Drifting into the new year with cynicism of other people’s goals, hype (#newyearnewyou), or just coasting in neutral will lead to mediocrity, the pain of regret and more of the same in 2020 and beyond.
Potential? This new year is packed full of 365 days of opportunity. It’s a chance to love God, love people, advance the Gospel, and glorify God.
I want to lay a foundation for option #3.
God doesn’t want you to fear 2019. “Perfect love casts out fear.” He’s a Good Father whose heart is to bless you. God doesn’t want you to be complacent or cynical. God wants you to dream, plan, ask, and train. There are countless scriptures we could look at, but I’ll just pick out a few.
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3
"May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." Psalm 20:4
"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:7-8
"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
It’s clear from these verses and many others that God wants us to pray, plan, and bear fruit. The new year is a great time to evaluate our plans and make new plans for this next year. We should hold these plans with open hands, trusting that God’s plan trumps our plans every time; but this doesn’t mean that we don’t make plans. Godly plans honor God and advance His Kingdom.
So, HOW do we do this?
There are hundreds of ways people do this and feel free to adopt or develop a plan that works for you. Here is what works for me:
First, it starts with abiding. I get alone with God and ask Him to give me a WORD for the year. I rarely know what it means when I get it, but by the end of the year, I’m blown away at how God spoke to me. Some of the past words for me have been: launch (2015 when we launched CDM), prayer (I kinda flopped this year; my prayer life stayed the same), love (the year Kat and I got engaged), and abundance (2018 when God gave our ministry lots of funds, we hired two staff members, and bought a house). Take this word seriously, because oftentimes He is setting you up for something you may not expect.
Second, I revisit the vision statement for my life, making small tweaks if needed. If you don’t have a vision statement, think about starting to formulate one. Or, just think about what you want your life to be about. Mine is…
"My purpose is to love and enjoy God; selflessly love and serve Kathleen; and genuinely love others by sharing Jesus Christ with them mainly through preaching the gospel, making disciples, encouraging pastors, and writing books; with as much Holy Spirit empowered passion, zeal, and hard work as possible. Simple terms- Love God. Love Kathleen. Love people. With everything I’ve got.”
Get creative with this. It shouldn’t be burdensome, but something that sets your heart on fire to be alive every day!
Lastly, I spend some time formulating goals for the next year that move the ball forward on the vision God has given me for my life. I break my goals into seven categories:
This year I had 3-5 goals for each category with one “miracle goal” for each category. Step out of the tent and dream big. He’s a really big God.
Remember, goals are specific, measurable, and have a time limit. “I want to lose weight” is good, but “I am going to lose 20 pounds in 6 months,” is much better. Then you can track each month if you’re on pace.
For some of us, this process is like Christmas morning, and for others, it sounds like memorizing calculus. Whatever your predisposition, I promise that this will pay off. This year is packed full of potential if we will discipline ourselves to pray, dream, and set some goals. God is honored when you bear much fruit!
The most important thing to keep in mind when planning for the future is the heart of the Master. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), the Master gives each of the three servants certain talents. The two who understood the Master’s heart went out and increased what had been given to them. The other servant hid his talent because he feared punishment if he didn’t do well. We have all been given lots of talents (time, treasure, gifts, relationships, opportunities, platform, books, teaching, leaders, etc.). God loves you and wants you to bring increase to what He’s entrusted to you. Rather than returning to Him exactly what He’s given you, God desires for you to know His heart and multiply.
I want us all to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).
What will you do with what He’s entrusted to you in 2019?