The end of a year always provides a chance for analysis and forecasting. While it’s an arbitrary marker in certain respects, it allows us a chance to evaluate our work and lives.
John Piper recently released his end of year report for Desiring God Ministries. In this 9 minute video, he describes the importance of looking at a year as if Jesus were going to return on December 31st. How would that change the way you look at what you accomplish and how you behave and relate?
As things begin to slow down on 2011, I plan to take time to evaluate this past year. But I’m also beginning to ask hard questions about how to live 2012 as if Jesus were going to give me a performance evaluation on Dec. 31, 2012. Pondering that question, I came up with a top ten list to help me consider my priorities. Perhaps these will stir some thoughts for you.
Before I start, I’m reminded of Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions. He wrote these as a young man and tried to read them weekly to keep his mind and heart focused on his calling before God. Perhaps his resolutions and my list will inspire you to write your own resolutions–not New Year’s Resolutions that are inevitably broken, but priorities that will help you honor Christ in your calling.
My Top 10 List for 2012
10. Cultivate and use my skills as a saxophonist and songwriter in the church and community. Knowing that God has instilled talents and passions for music, I endeavor to use these for His glory. I plan to gig regularly and use my musical talents in worship. No holding back!
9. Sing, laugh and dance every day. In my busy life, I can take things too seriously. I will surround myself with people and resources that will help me laugh and enjoy this journey.
8. Read broadly. C.S. Lewis said that you should read one old book (at least 100 years old) for each new book you read (since the new books have not stood the test of time). If that is too much to bear, he acquiesced to read one old book for every three new books. I’ve also heard that professionals should spend 30% of their reading time outside their primary field(s) of discipline. With these principles in mind, I will seek to to read broadly and deeply.
7. Read through the Bible multiple times. With the assistance of Dr. Grant Horner’s Bible Reading program, I’m already on my way to reading it once this year and hope to make it through at least twice in 2012. This is making the broad reading of Scripture more meaningful and engaging.
6. Emphasize the role of personal worship and family worship. It has become too easy for me to plan public worship services and to neglect my own personal and family worship practices. In 2012 I would like to plan public worship from a deeper well of personal worship. This may include more regularly worshiping under the leadership of other worship leaders. It especially includes preaching the gospel to myself daily through prayer and the books I read.
5. Prioritize my health through regular exercise and healthy eating. Because I desire to be productive and engaged through how ever many years God gives me, I will exercise at least three times weekly and aim to get my weight to a sustainable level by the end of the year.
4. Purposefully cultivate real life friendships. Since much of my work happens virtually, I will plan to meet for coffee and meals with friends and colleagues multiple times per week. This will also include the pursuit of meaningful conversations as described by Larry Crabb in Soul Talk.
3. Prioritize the discipling of my children. As a father I am the primary mentor for my children. Even though we homeschool, I know there are things I can do enhance their spiritual and biblical education.
2. Court my wife. With teenaged children we have never been so busy. That’s why it’s increasingly critical that we have date nights and coffee dates as well as spontaneous conversations (even when I feel too busy). We will also take regular time away to evaluate our priorities and schedules. In the midst of all this, I will pursue her as my best friend and soulmate.
1. Live on mission. Five years ago I wrote a life mission statement, but I have largely ignored this in the midst of unemployment and major life changes during the last two years. I will prayerfully read this weekly and ask God to show me how He wants to use me now and in the future. A book I will re-read to help me on this journey is The Making of a Leader by Dr. J. Robert Clinton.
A song that helps me think about the purpose of my life is Lifesong by Casting Crowns.
Only by the grace of God and with the assistance of my community can I live up to any of these. I know I will fail to perfectly follow these, but that can be no excuse to shrink back. In fact, it’s tempting to not show these to the world. However, I believe there are others seeking to make changes in 2012. Perhaps this list can inspire yours.
If you’re comfortable doing so, post your list here or at least provide a link to your list.