The year 2014 has been a year of many blessings as well as spiritual growth! God’s faithfulness and grace is evidenced in the lives of many who have been baptized and in those who continue to grow in following Christ.
As I look back on 2014 and write this report, I ask myself, “What matters most?” I could talk about the blessings of increased attendance, new people coming, near-record giving, strategic efforts to develop disciples (efforts which need a lot more work), missions trips, building projects we’ve accomplished, or challenges we’ve faced where God has grown us. All of these metrics—and many others not mentioned—matter a lot! However, in this season of my life and ministry, they are not what matter most to me.
What matters most to me? Elim being an oasis for renewal (life-changing redemption) with God and one another so that people become passionate followers of Jesus who live out the compelling realities of the Kingdom of God in the midst of our increasingly lost, hopeless, and hostile culture! Are there metrics from this last year I can write about that would indicate this is taking place? I suppose what I mentioned are some worthy indicators. However, while they measure things that can be seen, they don’t necessarily reveal the passions of the heart.
Passions of the heart that would indicate whether or not what matters most to me is happening are discovered through story. For instance, in the community group Kim and I lead, we are listening to life stories for the first few months. As I listen to these stories, I hear a common theme of how God is using Elim to redeem these people through the grace and love from this community, the preaching and study of the Word, and prayer. “Elim has been an Oasis for me,” is a common statement. As I look back over this past year, this is what matters most to me. As I look forward to 2015, this is what matters most to this pastor!
What challenges do I face when pursuing what matters most in 2015? I need to make sure that what matters most continues to be what matters most. My heart can be fickle and easily distracted by good but lesser things. I believe that if I focus on what matters most, the good but lesser things will follow. For those planners among us, I realize there needs to be strategic planning. However, I’m also realizing I need others who will take that on so I can focus on what matters most.
As I focus on what matters most, I need to transmit this focus and passion throughout the fabric of Elim’s core leadership. I want to do my best to make sure they “catch this virus.” This is essential because those they lead need to catch this virus also. If the leaders don’t have it, the followers won’t catch it. This means I also need to work with others to develop a leadership pipeline that will infect leaders with the virus of what matters most.
As I focus on what matters most, I need to transmit this focus and passion throughout the fabric of the congregation through preaching and leadership. I desperately want every attender to choose to become a passionate follower of Jesus! I pray that God will do whatever it takes to make this happen in your life, because following Jesus is what is most important in all of life. This calls me to greater levels of boldness and clarity as we enter this new year.
There you have it! This is what matters most to your pastor. I hope you will join me in this pursuit.