Mick’s Memo-Initiatives for a New Decade
One of the benefits of the cycles of nature is the chance to reflect. This cycle included the end of a decade which served to multiply the reflective instincts as we opened our “window” to ten years. For the younger among us, 10 years constitutes a large portion of life. They have gone from elementary age through college and beyond. Some have gone from single to married. Some have gone from a couple to being parents. Some have gone from parenting to grandparenting. Some have lost parents, spouses and even children. As quickly as these years have passed for me, even as a “middle ager”, they have been full of change.
Looking forward, we can be assured that change will continue. I ask myself, “How can I prepare and step ahead in the next decade?” We are tempted to face change by resolving not to be affected by it. I think that strategy is unlikely to be helpful. Change is hard, but it is inevitable and provides opportunity for those who face it with confidence in God’s Sovereignty and a willingness to consider new initiatives. I like the Apostle Paul’s determination as he was imprisoned and writing a letter to believers in the city of Philippi where he had been imprisoned and miraculously released decades earlier. As he looked back he saw wasted years building his own “righteousness resume”; as he looked ahead he was clear about his objectives…
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:10-14 (NIV)
I love that last sentence. The imagery makes me think of some of the runners I have coached who were driven to give all they had to win—both in their preparation at practice and in their performance on race day.
What are you initiating at the beginning of this year and this decade that will affect what you are reflecting on ten years down the road? Will you develop relationships where you will be lifted up in your faith and you will be able to lift others up? Will you invest in the body of Christ with your life resources (time, talent and treasure) so that His influence in this place and other places will grow?
The answers to those questions lie in abiding and initiative. As we abide in Christ, we take on His values and are empowered by His presence. When we abide in Christ we listen to His direction and take initiative as He leads—we win! The race isn’t against others. It is against our other self—the one that wants the shortcuts, the one that wants to coast, the one that is concerned more about comfort than experiencing “the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.
Some initiatives to consider—regular connection with God through reading, study and application of the Scriptures; regular connection with the body of Christ in worship, small group involvement, service and mentor/mentee relationships. I am keenly aware that these initiatives compete with many worthy and attractive alternatives. To take these initiatives will require us to limit or eliminate some other pursuits that are not evil in themselves but nonetheless keep us from the prize.
This weekend we will have our second message in the “Talk, Talk, Talk” series discussing “When to Talk”. I look forward to seeing you!