This is just a short thought at the start of a new year. Probably by the time you see this it will at least be the middle of January of 2021, but I think the thought is relevant no matter when it is.
Here’s the thought: sometimes ministry, sometimes life is about a plan; making a plan, following the plan, working the plan. In fact, probably it’s true most of the time.
We see Jesus who, when you pay attention to what He was up to in the gospels, wasn’t just wandering aimlessly. He had a plan to develop a core group of disciples to prepare them for the reception of the Spirit and the birth of the Church. He, at different points, talks about how He was working His way towards Jerusalem. He had a plan. He was going to the cross and He was going to rise from the grave.
Today I want to highlight the fact that young pastors take more hits. I was commenting to somebody a while ago about a young pastor we both knew who was really quite gifted, capable and doing some amazing things in the church was just being dogged at every turn. Individuals inside the church seemed to be interfering and wanting to interfere with what was going on.
I made the comment to this person that very few people know how many hits and how intense the hits are that a lot of our young pastors take on. Young pastors take a lot more hits, and not just young as in age, but new pastors, and even people who are going into the ministry as a second career. They are often not prepared for the way people take shots at them.
I just had the privilege a couple of days ago on the first Sunday of the year to preach my first live sermon since mid-March of 2020. Actually, yesterday I did two prerecorded messages at two different churches. I spoke live at Fort St. John, British Columbia which is a church we did a transitional pastorate in several years ago and where we are currently living right now. The title of the message was “A Swing Thought or 2021.”
This is the final instalment of 2020 on the afternoon of December 31st. My virtual assistant says she is able to get it out today. I was actually contacted her to see if she was able to do it hoping she’d say no, but when she said yes, that took care of my final excuse for procrastinating on this.
I want to give you an update or basically a report on this nightmare mode I shared with you last time. Nightmare mode, you may recall, was just a month plus of time I was setting aside just to focus in on some tasks, do some extra seeking and address different issues in my life and get moving ahead.
Basically I had 13 different things I wanted to check off every day and they were not all big. The things were, I wanted to spend some time in the Word and spend some time in prayer. I wanted to make sure that at the beginning of the day I wrote down my daily win from the day before. I wanted to get in a cortisol stroll with my wife, which is a walk earlier in the morning to get some natural light early. I wanted to identify my one thing I wanted to get done each day and then list of backup to-dos.
I wanted to eat lightly. I want to do a couple different forms of exercise. I want a reasonable workout, whether a hike or working out on my TRX or something like that, as well as doing a neck mobility set that we’d come across, that we’ve been doing. It’s pretty interesting and its impact on keeping that neck flexible.
I wanted to make sure I didn’t check the news before five o’clock and limit our entertainment time to between 8:00PM and 10:00 PM. I wanted to make sure I only hit Facebook once a day for social interaction after 5:00 PM. Then I wanted to spend half my time working on a project and half my time just thinking, reflecting, praying and planning.
So those were the 13 things I wanted to check off for the last 38 days, including today. I haven’t obviously finished today, but when I look at how I’ve done, counted up and crunched the numbers, I managed to hit about 90% of the things that I wanted to do each day.
Some of course are quite easy, like writing down your one thing, that kind of stuff, or the daily win from the day before. There are a couple areas where I found myself more hit and miss. The first was balancing working and thinking time. I found myself much more drawn to tasks now. Understandably we had a move in there and from one community to another, got set up in a new community where we’ve been before. I ended up having a lot of coffees, breakfasts and lunches with friends that we have here. We lived in this community for over two years in a transitional role, so there’s lots of people to reconnect with and that’s not bad stuff.
The other area is probably the more intense workouts, the TRX or hike. I didn’t really let me give myself a zero on the days where we were traveling and stuff where it was just tough to do. But even taking that into account, that was probably the weaker area where I didn’t work out quite as much as I would’ve liked to. I’ve been very happy with my eating lately. We’ve locked in some things there. I’m very happy really for the most part with everything else.
So it’s been good lesson and just addressing some things. There are some habits obviously that I’d started before nightmare mode that have become entrenched in this nightmare mode that I’m going to carry over into the new year. I might talk a little bit more in the new year about best new habits and things.
One other thing I should note about this nightmare mode during this time is one of my primary tasks was taking a training on audio book production and starting production of one of my books as an audio book. That’s been my primary task for the last couple of weeks. So for approaching half of this nightmare mode, it’s been the audio book work.
I’ve also done some consulting and I’ve been behind the camera at the church we’re attending here for a few Sundays. I’m preparing sermon for this week at that church, recorded an interview with somebody else and sent off another message. I’m actually preaching in three places this weekend for the first time ever. I’ve preached in two places in the past but this is my first three-peat and it’s three different messages. One is a live stream, one is a prerecorded sermon, and one is a prerecorded 30 minute interview. So that was all a part of it.
For me, I didn’t spend as much time as I like in the whole thinking and spiritually seeking as I wanted to, and there is just a bit more activity than I had hoped. Often the week between Christmas and New Years or slightly after New Years is when I do a lot of thinking and planning. I’ve got a lot of time in these next few days to do that extra thinking and seeking.
So this has just highlighted some things for me that I want to pay attention to. I want to figure out a good workout system when I can’t get out cross country skiing or hiking or canoeing. If we can do that, that’s what we do. It’s just a little harder to work out on the inside though. I like my TRX and I’ve got TRX app and the workouts are killer, and a pretty good sweat and sore muscles for a couple of days if you’re not careful, so I want to get that locked in.
I do want to make sure I’m doing the right amount of thinking time that I’m not just captivated by tasks and what they call BSOs or bright, shiny objects, like learning about audio book production. It’s been so interesting and starting to do that. For me the learning can take precedence and just squeeze out the actual thinking and reflecting time.
I want to carry over the eating lightly into the new year. Of course, it’s been a really good month plus of eating really quite healthily and going into year’s Eve, we just did our grocery run and picked some more junk food, a little more salty, a little bit more sugary, but not excessive. I want to be able to, even today on December 31st, say that I ate lightly despite all that. So it’s looking good that way.
As I tie up this year, I just want to say thanks to everyone who has listened to my podcast over the last couple of years or followed my blog. I’m looking forward to making some shifts in the new year. I’ll be sharing more about that and really focusing in on disciple-making, digital ministry and maintaining that focused, sustainable life of ministry regardless of what ministry looks like.
So whenever you’re reading this, I just want to encourage you to spend some time seeking direction, to seek the wisdom that is from above, and that creativity and direction that we just can’t generate in ourselves. I just pray God’s best for you moving forward.
So thanks again for following along. God bless and press on.
As I record this I’m beginning nightmare mode. Nightmare mode is a concept I got off a fellow I listen to on YouTube from time to time, Alex Becker, who is a bit of a nut and is a software and internet marketer. He has some interesting things to say about productivity, dopamine addictions, social media and all kinds of stuff, so from time to time I’ll watch one of his YouTube videos. He talks about nightmare mode with the basic idea being stripping down your schedule and your activities to the bare minimum to focus in on a project.
For me I’m just coming to the end and have just concluded two different transitional roles, a transitional pastorate and a transitional coaching role. My wife and I find ourselves in this season every year and a half to two years, asking “What’s next?” So in this interim time, I’m spending some time in nightmare mode and the whole purpose is seeking direction for the next steps.