What are you hoping for this year?

There’s a general sense among all the people I’ve talked to recently that 2012 is going to be a good year. There’s a tangible feeling of optimism and anticipation for this year.

And that applies to myself as well: as I alluded to yesterday, I’m stoked to be able to focus on the one thing that God has called me to–serving as Associate Pastor at The District Church. (And there’s definitely something satisfactory about approaching 30.) I’m looking forward to a couple trips to California, including one in June to celebrate the wedding of my dear friend Kristin to her awesome fiancé, Joey. I’m looking forward to seeing what God is going to do in and through this toddler-aged church these next twelve months–I have no doubt we’ll trip and fall on occasion, but I’m excited to see how we learn and grow and start walking. I’m looking forward to growing more as a pastor, a preacher, a worship leader, a small group leader, a communications director, a graphic designer, and of course, a son, a brother, a friend, and most of all, a follower of Christ.

Growing up, the most common refrain my parents would hear from my teachers at their parent-teacher conferences was, “Justin has a lot of potential; he just needs to apply himself. He just needs to focus.” And I was reminded of this because I realized that was true for most of 2011. I was severely lacking in focus, and leading a very reactionary life, running from one thing to the next without any understanding of the larger narrative I was inhabiting, and it led me to do everything I wanted to do (and, indeed, felt called to do) poorly.

So choose to be intentional in 2012. There are things over which we have no control. That’s what life is like; that’s reality. But there are things over which we do have control—our lives, our attitudes, our decisions—and as Paul writes to Timothy: “God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). Having within us the power of the Holy Spirit of the God for whom nothing is impossible, we are more than capable. So commit to living intentionally, to living healthily. Take the time to look at your life, to look at your schedule, to look at how you’re living, working, doing, being.

And hope for this year. Plan for this year.* Prepare for this year. Ask God to give you a vision for this year. Write it down–from the large scale, generic ideas that you want to see come to pass this year, all the way to the specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals that you set deadlines for.

And come back to the vision. Again, and again. In the inevitable peaks and troughs to come, come back to the vision. Remind yourself where you began, reflect on where you’ve traveled, look up to where you’re going.

Live intentionally.

* Some people don’t like making plans. They say that they’re never going to come to pass anyway, so what’s the point? They quote Proverbs 19:21 (“The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.”) as their supporting verse. But that doesn’t tell us not to make plans! My philosophy? Make plans, hold them lightly, trust that God is ultimately the Lord of the Universe and of our lives, and that he has things in hand.

Justin

Hong Kong | London | California | Washington, DC

Christian | Theologian | Musician | Activist | Sojourner

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