With the holiday season upon us, how can you end the year faithfully? In other words, what should your focus be for the last few days of this year? You can lead aimlessly or aim purposefully.
I would like to challenge you personally and professionally. Here are some challenges I believe will help us all end the year faithfully.
I want to challenge each of us to end the year personally in the highest way possible. How?
1. Evaluate where you are with God.
Draw aside to insure all is right with God. Deal with yourself. Talk to God about your own sinfulness and challenges honestly. Practice repentance. Seek fresh empowerment from the Holy Spirit. This is something I believe everyone should do.
2. Examine your relationship with others.
In our present culture, relationships can often get messy and misunderstood. As pastors, we frequently run fast, and usually that is not to our advantage. Therefore, we need to use this season to examine all of our relationships again. Do not underestimate the influence of a personal call, email, text message, visit or even a handwritten personal note. The holiday season is the time of year many are hurting and need a special touch. We can all do more to encourage others around us.
3. Elevate your walk with Christ.
Use this season of the year to elevate your walk with Christ. Read more of God’s Word and spend additional time with Him in prayer. Use your personal time with God to pray about what He has before you in the new year, personally and professionally. Spend extra time with God to concentrate on your personal walk with Christ. Be ready personally to launch into the new year in a powerful way.
Now that I have suggested four steps to take personally to end the year in the highest realm of faithfulness to God, let me do the same professionally.
1. Consider the status of your church spiritually.
Just as you would have your vital signs checked at an annual physical, stop long enough to check the vital signs of your church. Pastor, honestly before God, how is your church doing? Is your church healthy? If it is healthy, how do you know? If your church is not healthy, what will you do about it? Determine to end the year faithfully.
2. Sharpen your leadership for the future.
Once you have considered the status of your church, it should help you know more about how to lead it. Where will you lead it? What will you lead the church to do? Consider having a demographic study done on your community to understand how to better reach people. If you have already done this, is it time for another study? Are you leading strategically to minister to your community compassionately for the purpose of making disciples of all the nations? Sharpen your leadership for the future. If you will do this, you will lead faithfully.
3. Commit yourself to teach the Word of God faithfully.
As the pastor, your highest call is to bring glory to God by teaching and preaching the Word of God accurately and faithfully. This means you must draw aside to consider what you are going to preach in the year ahead and how you are going to preach it. Will you teach through a book of the Bible or several books of the Bible? Are you going to deal with subjects like marriage, family, finances, the future, and do it driven by the text of Scripture, leading people to walk in the depths of God’s riches? Or will you do a combination of the above? Whatever you do, commit yourself to teach the Word of God more faithfully than ever before in your ministry.
4. Challenge your church to finish the year with financial faithfulness.
I am convinced that pastors need to challenge the people of God to finish the year with the highest level of financial faithfulness to God. It is incumbent upon us to do so for the people themselves, but also for the work of the church. A person cannot say they are walking in faithfulness to Jesus without practicing biblical stewardship. As pastors, we need to step up and challenge God’s people to:
Honor the Lord with the first 10 percent of all God has entrusted to them throughout the year.
Honor the Lord with gifts of generosity above the first 10 percent, giving to international missions, church vision specifics, or benevolence.
If we want God’s people to walk with Jesus faithfully, we need to challenge them to be faithful financially.
As the pastor of your fellowship, plan now to finish the year both personally and professionally, with the highest level of faithfulness.
Ronnie Floyd is senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and founder of the Cross Church School of Ministry. This column first appeared on his blog at ronniefloyd.com.