By Matt Henslee
Ah yes, the end of another year. It’s hard to believe how fast 2019 went by, but that’s kinda cliché. Don’t we pretty much say that every year?
Nevertheless, we’re coming to the end of 2019, and as a friend of pastors, I know this has been a year of many ups, many downs, and everything in between.
Some of my friends were called to a new church, some were fired, and a few retired. I know some pastors feel lucky just to have made it to December while others had the time of their lives this year.
Winding Down a Good Year
Some of you had a fantastic 2019. Maybe you saw God move in such a way that every metric you follow went off the charts.
You’ve hired some high-capacity leaders, the budget is looking mighty fine, and you can’t wait for 2020 to come so you can carry the momentum into another decade.
Celebrate! God is good, He’s kind, and He immeasurably blessed you in 2019. Thank Him, rejoice, and pray for more of the same.
Winding Down a Bad Year
On the other hand, some of you wish you could’ve skipped 2019. Perhaps the baptistery has been empty for far too long, the budget is lagging, and you have critics up to your eyeballs.
Maybe you had to let someone go, maybe there were problems at home, and perhaps you’ve had enough and are ready to throw in the towel, call it quits for vocational ministry, and find a new line of work.
Don’t quit! God is good, He’s kind, and while you didn’t see His hand of blessing in 2019, you should still thank Him. Ask Him, plead with Him to help you persevere.
Winding Down a Meh Year
I suspect this category might be where a lot of us fall. This year was a mixed bag of good, bad, and ugly. The good has you hopeful, the bad has you stressed, but the ugly was enough to tempt you to sneak out a few resumes.
Maybe your church grew, but your budget looks like a bloodbath. Perhaps you’ve seen a slew of baptisms, but some of your members’ lives are an absolute train wreck and it’s weighing you down. The list is limitless.
Press on! God is good, He’s kind, and while He seemed to gift you a rollercoaster year in 2019, you should still thank Him. Learn from the good, bad, and ugly, and set your sights on another year.
What All Have In Common
So pastor, did you have a good year in 2019? Did you have a bad one? Or was 2019 a mixed bag of ups and downs, leaving you to scratch your head for what 2020 will bring?
Do you know what you have in common with every pastor that reads this blog? Jesus wasn’t lying when he said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).
If you had a good year, step off cloud nine for a moment and realize Jesus worked in, through, and in spite of you. You probably made some great, wise decisions; you might’ve preached some bomb sermons.
But Jesus was working.
If you had a bad year, get your head out of your hands for a moment and realize the same Jesus doing amazing work in “so-and-so church” is still working in yours, even if you don’t see it yet.
Jesus was working.
If you had a meh year, delete that resume off your computer for a moment and realize ups and downs will come and go. You’re not your last sermon, nor is your identity in your Annual Church Profile; it’s in Christ, and He was working in and through you this year.
This coming year might be good, it might be bad, or perhaps meh, but it’ll come with the same Jesus on the throne, who keeps His promise to build His church.
So, keep your head up and press onward into 2020!
MATT HENSLEE (@mhenslee) is managing editor of LifeWay Pastors and coauthor of the book Replanting Rural Churches. He is the husband of Rebecca, father of four princesses, and pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico.