We’re down to just the last few days of 2019 – like you needed me to tell you that!
I’ve been reflecting a bit on 2019. I know some are glad to see this year go and look forward to the fresh start of a new year; others may have more warmth towards 2019 and all that it brought. I’m more interested in understanding what God has been doing in you and through you rather than how 2019 measures up against all the other years of your life.
What were the most impactful points of your journey in 2019? What were the inputs that were most helpful to you as you sought to grow in your followership of Jesus? What were the experiences that proved most helpful or fruitful in your own discipleship? Who were the individuals who invested in you in ways that produced fruit in your life? What were the books, blogs, podcasts or articles that were most impactful in your spiritual development in 2019? What relationships did the Lord use like iron sharpening iron as you walked through 2019?
I want to offer three of the books that were amongst the best that I read in 2019.
The first has been mentioned several times already on this blog, but it’s worth mentioning again. If you haven’t read Tod Bolsinger’s Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy for your 2020 reading. I’ve worked through it a couple of times and still find it so helpful in understanding the moment we’re living through right now in North America.
The second is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Apparently, this book inspired a movie that is currently in the theaters under the same name. I haven’t seen the movie, so I have nothing to offer on the film, but the book was one of the most painful and helpful reads for me in the past year. I kept reminding myself that these stories weren’t from the 1950’s and 1960’s but come from much more recent times, sadly. If you want to explore some of the problems of race, economics, and our current criminal justice system I think Just Mercy is a good starting place.
Finally, I spent some time with Travis Collins’ helpful work: What Does It Mean to Be Welcoming?: Navigating LGBT Questions in Your Church. Collins is a Baptist pastor from Alabama and this book provides some of the most helpful guidance in encouraging leaders think through how to respond to the difficult challenges facing the church as we strive to embody both grace and truth. I’ve read a lot in this area of ministry, but Collins’ book is simply one of the best and most helpful I’ve come across.
For 2020, I already have a large stack of books that I hope to work my way through on a wide variety of topics, disciplines and issues facing the church. For 2020, I’ve already made arrangements to receive some investment from brothers and sisters who are further ahead of me in their journey of following Jesus. In my own walk I found that nothing helps more than learning from others who are a step or more ahead and are willing to share their lives and what they’ve learned along the way. These relationships are critical in challenging me to take the steps that I’d otherwise be hesitant or unwilling to take if left on my own. To grow we absolutely need others in our lives helping us to do what we cannot do alone.
What about you? What was helpful in 2019 as you reflect upon the year? What do you need to do in 2020 to take steps forward in your journey? Is there someone you need to reach out to and ask them to invest in you and your leadership for the sake of the kingdom of God and what He wants to accomplish in you in the year ahead? What needs to go on the schedule now to ensure that it happens in 2020? It might be a learning opportunity, focused days of prayer and fasting, times of mentoring, coaching or discipleship or some other opportunity that you’ve identified that’s critical to your own development and maturing as a follower of Jesus. How can you make sure the important work of working on you happens in 2020?
If you haven’t taken some time to reflect upon this past year or look forward to the year ahead, I encourage you to take some time in the next few days. What has God done in your life in this past year and where does He want to take you in 2020? Don’t miss out on what the Lord wants to do in you as you serve Him.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 51