How You Can Make 2017 a Banner Year for Your Ministry

Pastors, making your family a priority should be one of your goals for 2017.
Pastors, making your family a priority should be one of your goals for 2017. (Flickr )

December is moving at a rapid pace. Before too long, the rush of the Christmas festivities will be over, and we will be looking at a new calendar year.

Whenever a New Year rolls around I, along with so many others, begin to think about what the next year may have in store, prayerfully wondering and seeking what the Lord's will is next.

Recently I read that 40 percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions, while only eight percent achieve the New Year's goals. While I argue that goals and resolutions are two different concepts, it is hard to argue against the notion that many people want to see change come to their lives, and very few actually accomplish that.

My suspicion, and I have no data to support this, is that many pastors also want to see a change in their lives and in the churches, they are privileged to serve but very few actually do. To see a change in our lives, there are five critical attitudes and actions to consider embracing.

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Maintain your health. This is always controversial. No one likes being told by loved ones, trusted doctors and especially not a stranger that they need to examine their health. Yet we need to consider the impact our care for or neglect of our health impacts the effectiveness of the ministry we have been entrusted with. Too many have had their ministries and lives cut short because they ignored their physician's counsel about their health. Your health in the next year will have a huge impact on the effectiveness of life and ministry.

Make your marriage and family a top priority. A retired pastor who held a long tenure at a single church once shared, "They will forget you when you are gone, but your family will always be with you." Twenty, 30, even 40 years of ministry in one location will quickly be forgotten, but your family is always your family.

There will be conflicts with your schedule. Times where you have more flexibility and times where there is less. The people of your church wrestle with the same issue of juggling schedules and demands. You may not be able to attend everything, but make every effort to keep your marriage and your family a top priority in your life.

Accept your own failures. You are going to fail. You are going to do something that sounded great, seemed to be God's will for what was next and it is going to fail. God often uses our failures to cement his perfect will. When failure comes, and if we are doing anything of any importance they will come, it is better to accept those failings, learn from them and move on.

Keep a short memory. Forgive often; forget faster. How much time and energy has been lost to brooding over an offense? Many pastors and church members are living in a snare of bitterness from someone who caused some hurt to them.

There are instances in your life that are defining, but they do not define who you are. Great tragedies and instances of abuse that will forever mark your story and should not be ignored or passed over lightly. In keeping a short memory, forgiving often and forgetting faster, we are not ignoring poor conduct and tragedy but choosing not to let it define us. Bitterness is a root that grows only if you feed it. You do not have to forget what happened, but you do not have to live there, either.

Celebrate the success of others. Recently, I've been reminded of a quote from Missouri's own Harry S. Truman that says, "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."

Celebrate the success of others. Be an encourager. Intentionally uplift those around you. Your outlook changes drastically when you seek to be an encourager.

Now is a perfect time, if you have not done so already, to begin thinking about what might the Lord have you working toward in 2017. These attitudes and actions can help to make 2017 a banner year. Your effort, superseded by the work of God the Holy Spirit, brings about change that is for our good and God's glory.

Rob Hurtgen is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church Chillicothe, Missouri. He is completing a D.Min from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a contributor to various blogs, magazines and journals. 

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