New Year, New You

I am attracted to the word NEW. When I served in Michigan, I loved to go see the NEW car models at the car show. After all, who doesn’t like that new car smell? I am a sucker for picking something up and look at it in the store when I see the word “new.” I like buying new things. It is no wonder that our culture makes a big deal over what is new, like a new year. The new year still has that excitement that something better is coming in the new year. Somehow, by changing the date, all things will be made better. I will lose weight, be richer, and have better relationships – all because it is a new year. Some will try hard for 30 to 60 days but fall back into “normal.” We all know that change takes intentional modification in a lifestyle which includes habits and how we think about things.

As pastors, we all want the church to grow, and often we fall into this idea that a new program, staff person, or whatever silver bullet, will grow the church. Jesus grows His church, and if you want to grow, you will have to grow spiritually, mentally, and in your behaviors or leadership.

I am going to give you eleven statements to help ensure a better you and a better year. I encourage you to pick one a month and focus on it each day of that month.

So many leaders have a scarcity mindset. They say things like, “We don’t have enough money, people, etc., so we can’t do anything,” or they hold on to what they have so tightly that they miss opportunities right in front of them. Having a generous mindset doesn’t just apply to money or time, but also to sharing what you know, looking to add value to others.

Reject the power trap that comes with being a leader. Have the heart of a servant. Jesus should have been served for His title/position but, instead, He emptied Himself and took the form of a servant. When we fall into the power trap, we become elitists in our thinking and we disconnect ourselves from the people we need or are to serve.

Find things to be thankful for that you normally do not appreciate or that you take for granted. I often tell couples to name ten things they are thankful for in their spouse that they have noticed before. It is amazing how appreciation grows through this. The same is true with leadership relationships. Leadership is not about how you feel, but how you make others feel. Deepen your heart of gratitude and it will affect others around you.

The best leaders know how to focus. They avoid trivial distractions and stay focused on the core values, mission, and vision. When focused, you will do the things that matter most, committing them to your calendar first and foremost.

Being healthy is a choice we make every day. Being healthy applies to physical exercise, sleep, mental rest, spiritual renewal, etc. Make it a priority every day.

As leaders, we are wired with a destination disease – pursuing that light at the end of the tunnel. But we must take time to reflect. Reflection keeps us on the path of our mission.

Leadership has some perks, and it should for what it requires. Yet, many become stagnated because they fall in love with the perks and not the work. Great leaders know how to produce, no matter the circumstances or how they are feeling. As a great leader, they understand their production is essential for the mission.

It is an honor and privilege to have influence over others. Nothing speaks more to this privilege than preaching or being welcomed into the pain of one’s life. Because of that, leaders do not do things that some people do. We live above reproach. Be aware that your actions and what you say are under scrutiny; we are to live differently than non-leaders. It is our responsibility to carry ourselves in a way that understands the position is greater than us.

Never stop learning, especially from others. Be a student every day. We can’t rely on what has worked in the past. Have a healthy curiosity that keeps you motivated to improve.

As a leader, you are not only modeling to others, but you are intentionally mentoring and training others around you in order to inspire them to be all they can be.

Be passionate about serving others. Being a servant leader, you value others around you more than yourself. You focus more on giving than getting from people. You do what needs to be done, even when it is not your job. Jesus washed feet, fed the multitude, etc.

Assign a month for each statement. Spend time defining it or expanding the meaning of the term; let’s see how the Lord grows your leadership and that around you as you become the new you this year.

by: Rev. Jason Scheler, Mission Executive of the LCMS Southern District

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