5 areas where pastors can grow in the new year

January 12, 2021
In the optometry profession, 20/20 means clarity or sharpness of vision. 
For most people, the year 2020 was anything but clear. In fact, 2020 was as unclear as a year could be because of the repercussions of COVID-19, especially if you are leading in ministry as a pastor. 
Pastoral ministry can be tiring and overwhelming under normal conditions, but this past year, the load of ministry for many pastors has greatly multiplied. The decisions that had to be made were tough as we navigated these uncharted waters.
As we begin a new year, how can we better position ourselves to lead out of great joy and courage on the heels of a year that was marked by discouragement and fear? Just as many people will be establishing new routines for better physical fitness, pastors can also establish routines to be better fit for the rigors of ministry.
In 1 Timothy 4:7-10, the apostle Paul gives some great words of encouragement and instruction for being a faithful and effective servant of Jesus Christ. In this passage we read, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 
In a pastor’s ministry, training for godliness must be intentional with our hope set on the living God who does not disappoint. With the pursuit of godliness in our ministry, we will find that we can better face the uncertainty that ministry can bring from day to day.

As we begin a new year, how can we better position ourselves to lead out of great joy and courage on the heels of a year that was marked by discouragement and fear?

So, what are some personal goals or resolutions that pastors can set for 2021 that will help in the pursuit of godliness? Here are a few suggestions.
Attention to personal devotional life
How can you be more disciplined in your personal Bible reading, prayer, meditation and Scripture memorization?
Attention to family
How can you glorify God in your marriage and your relationship with your children? Is family discipleship a priority? Are you setting aside time to have fun as a family and make lifelong memories?
Attention to margins
How can you better manage your schedule to protect things such as family time, personal rest and replenishment opportunities, and your devotional life?
Attention to relationships
How can you build better relationships with other men that will promote your own personal growth by providing accountability, encouragement, spiritual growth and hobbies? Who are you personally discipling?
Attention to ministry calling
How can you continually affirm God’s calling on your life in a way that will bring confidence, courage and clarity?
In 1 Timothy 4, Paul concludes the chapter in verse 16 by saying, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 
What a great reminder that as we minister to others, we are called to keep a close watch on our own lives. Only God knows what this year will bring, but let’s commit to prepare spiritually now for whatever comes our way. 
Happy New Year, and may we glorify God with our lives in 2021.

by Barry Lawrence 
/  Pastor  /  The Lakes Community Church, Sanford, N.C.

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