As a small group point person it can be tempting to always look ahead. You need to be especially connected to your church’s calendar to plan ahead. The pipeline of new leaders will not fill itself. Ministry growth takes investment so you look forward.
However, looking back can be just as important and influential as looking ahead. As we prepare to enter the new year, are you poised to end 2017 well?
Take some time in the coming weeks to reflect on the wisdom 2017 has to offer you.
What accomplishments did you witness? Thank God.
Remembering your own key accomplishments isn’t too hard – especially when you’ve worked hard toward a specific goal. However, to reflect accurately on the last year it is important to attend to what you witnessed God accomplish in your midst. He is the reason for successful ministry and changed hearts.
Just as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” It is ok and even important to praise the work we have completed. But it is vital to acknowledge God for what He has done.
Did you make any great new connections? Appreciate them.
In your journey as a small group point person you meet all sorts of interesting people. That’s one of the best perks of groups ministry. Did you meet a pastor from another church you really connected with? Did you meet someone who wrote a Bible study your groups used? Maybe this was the year you met someone in your congregation who had a story that reminded you of God’s goodness. Find a moment to write them a note of appreciation. Let them know you value them and honor the connection God has brought you.
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What communications were never delivered? Close the loop.
In the fast pace of ministry you can forget to say every last word. Where would it have been best to say, “Sorry” or “Thank you” but you never got around to it? Is there anyone in the congregation you offered to get coffee with and the meeting never materialized? Your trust and reliability are jeopardized if you leave a lot of open communications dangling. Additionally, sometimes we conveniently forget to complete difficult communications. Year-end is a great opportunity to reflect on those God might be leading you to reconnect with.
What are 1-2 regrets you have? Learn the lesson.
Albert Einstein once said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” James almost starts his letter telling us to consider it “pure joy” when we face trials of many kinds. Throughout the Scriptures we are reminded to learn from mistakes and take difficulties in stride, that we may be awakened to the possibilities God has for us.
It’s a rare phenomenon to look back on an entire year and not find some things you wish you did differently. These might be small tweaks you would have made, or they could be the focal point of the whole year for you. Whatever they are, though, you can learn from them. Seek the Lord in earnest prayer and ask Him what He wants you to see or do.
What key pieces of knowledge did you gain? Teach it, and pay it forward.
As we read in the book of Proverbs, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15). If you are a leader, it is likely that you are a sponge for new information and valuable knowledge. What are the most valuable 2-3 things you learned this year? They may be ministry-specific, or it might be a new insight you had in your personal walk. Make an investment, and teach them to someone else.
There are two great reasons to get into this practice. First, teaching others helps you crystalize the knowledge you’ve gained. Processing it into teachable format confirms the knowledge you have and helps you recall it in the future. Second, it is a good reminder that you should be as charitable and generous with your knowledge as you are with your other possessions. Knowledge, just like any gift from God, is used best when it is shared.
A different year ahead
Whatever happened in your 2017, whether it was a banner year for you or a string of challenging trials that brought you to your knees, God has arranged for there to be poignant lessons in your faith walk and your ministry. Look to the past to glean its wisdom. With an open mind you can find what the Lord has for you.