By Rob Hurtgen
When December 31 rolls into January 1 there’s something within us that strives to do things differently. Maybe that involves making changes to our health, our spiritual growth, or the way we pastor our congregations.
I want to propose three questions to help you evaluate the present year and three questions to help you plan for the next.
To Evaluate Last Year
Question 1: What were my roles in this stage of life?
You have several roles in life. First, you’ve been called to the role of yourself. There’s no other you who’s as fearfully and wonderfully made as the way God specifically designed you to be (Psalm 139:14).
There’s no one else who can do what you’ve been crafted to do (Ephesians 2:8-10). If you’ve been called to Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9), you have the privilege and responsibility to grow in your walk with the Lord.
No one else can do that for you.
Perhaps by God’s blessing, you’re married. If so, you have the role of husband. If the Lord has blessed you with children, then you also have the role of father.
And as a reader of this blog, you’re most likely serving in some form of pastoral ministry.
One of the first things you should do as you begin to evaluate your year is identify the various roles you have at your current stage of life.
Once you’ve done this, you need to rank your roles from most important to least.
By identifying and then prioritizing your roles, you define what’s most important to you and where you should be investing your limited time and resources.
Question 2: How did my secondary responsibilities, hobbies, and interests influencing my primary roles?
You may be in the stage of life where you’re a father of young children. If that’s the case, pastoring a church and being deeply involved in a hobby might be encroaching on your primary role as a father.
You need to evaluate the roles you have. Which of them hold the highest priorities in your life?
You need hobbies and interests, but depending on the season of life you’re in, you’ll need to make sure those secondary responsibilities don’t steal from your first priorities.
Question 3: What habits have I developed–good and bad–that are influencing how effective I felt in my primary roles?
We each have habits built into our lives that influence how effective we feel within our primary roles.
Take note of the patterns in your life. Maybe the habit of staying up to catch The Late Show monologue isn’t contributing added value to the family breakfast you desire.
To evaluate this year, identify your roles, question how your secondary activities are influencing your primary roles, and determine if your habits are contributing to your effectiveness.
To Plan for This Year
As you prepare for next year, let me offer three similar questions.
Question 1: What are my roles this year and will my roles change?
The Lord may have called you to one type of ministry but will change how that ministry will be carried out in the coming year.
Question 2: What major life events do I anticipate happening in the coming year?
One mentor shared with me that he and his wife have yearly conversations about the season of life they’re in and the season toward which they’re moving.
Perhaps your children are getting ready to celebrate significant milestones. How will you mark these occasions?
Maybe you’ll be moving from one significant landmark to another. What major life events can you anticipate happening this next year?
Question 3: What one new habit could I implement that would cause me, by God’s grace, to be more effective in my primary roles?
Try to identify one habit per role that will help you be more effective in those roles.
Perhaps your marriage would become healthier if you prayed with your wife once a week. Maybe there’s a habit you want to engage in to feel more effective as a father.
Perhaps there’s a pattern you want to establish that you think will have cascading effects on your preaching ministry.
Identify one habit per role. Choose more than that and you’ll have a list of unachievable goals which will only serve as fodder for the enemy.
I know you desire to excel and be the most effective you can be for God’s kingdom. Help jumpstart your New Year by evaluating the roles God has given you, prioritizing those roles, and identifying habits that are helping or hurting your progress.
ROB HURTGEN (@robhurtgen) is husband to Shawn, father of five, pastor of First Baptist Church Chillicothe, Missouri, and doctoral student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also blogs at RobHurtgen.wordpress.com.