Its holiday time and that means time to reflect on 2017.
17 Lessons Learned In 2017
1. Time doesn’t fly.
Is it really the end of December? Times doesn’t fly – its on warp drive. 2017 taught me to be fully present in the moments of every day in the years ahead. And friends gave me Carl Lentz’s book for Christmas to ensure I own the moments of 2018.
2. Vulnerability opens doors to healing.
Brock Harrison struggled with depression but even more with the vulnerability of letting others know why he was struggling. In January he chose vulnerability over anxiety and said, “Let’s talk.” Even he was surprised by the gratitude expressed by others across Canada who opened up to him about their mental health struggles.
3. Change is challenging.
Jeremy Gifford shaped North Pointe’s Youth Ministry for eleven years as a volunteer, intern and pastor. In October, Jeremy resigned to accept the position of Youth Director with the ABNWT District. What would we do now?
4. But change is also good.
We discovered that Jeremy’s leadership is a gift that keeps on giving. His resignation created an opportunity to employ a younger leader he mentored for five years. Hope Thomas is a firecracker addition to our pastoral staff. Thank you, Jeremy.
5. Take the long view.
I knew this to be true but I also have a predisposition toward doing things that offer immediate gratification – message prep, counseling, writing, meetings, etc. Investing time and energy in my relationship with Jocelyn, our kids and grandkids doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Being tempted to allocate fewer and fewer resources to the things that matter most is a life long battle worth fighting against.
6. Relationships end and that is okay.
Some of my pastoral relationships with families ended in 2017. Some families moved to other provinces. And some moved to neighboring churches – all were “nothing personal.” I take endings personally – because being a pastor is personal. But that’s OK.
7. Cherish the moments you had in old relationships.
Relationships won’t stay the same forever. Cherish the relationships you have and hold on to the good memories from former relationships.
8. Vision is a lifesaver.
Without a vision leaders perish. They slowly perish in the quicksand of cynicism, drift and emotional fatigue that accompanies the reality of long-term ministry. God-given vision will hold on to you. I’m grateful to David Wells and Gary Taitinger – my pastors – and others for being leaders of vision.
9. It’s okay to be emotional.
Whether you’re on top of the world or you want to stop the world and get off, it’s okay. Been at both ends of the spectrum in 2017.
10. Capture pictures and videos of beautiful moments.
Being in the moment is great, but snapping a pic to relive it is not bad, either.
11. Turn whine into gratitude.
Its so easy – too easy – to whine. Miracles happen when you turn whine into thanksgiving. That was Cole Young. Some people knew him as “having special needs.” Friends knew him as “serving special needs.” For eighteen years he suffered from respiratory difficulties, heart murmur, frequent infections and eventually, organ failure. He was grateful for everyday.
12. Life goes on and so does love.
Tanis Post was cherished by all who loved her right till her last breath on earth in May. After fighting back from multiple life-threatening strokes she engaged her final battle with cancer. Every sunrise was a gift. Her husband Chris uses #loveyoumore as his tagline for life after Tanis.
13. Courage comes in pretty smiles.
Katelyn Murray is thirteen. Her two-year battle with leukemia is laid out on a chain of beads. Each bead represents ONE of her treatments. The chain is twenty-four feet long. Katelyn still has the prettiest smile in the world. In 2018 she will ring her end-of-treatment bell at North Pointe. 🙂
14. God works in wonder-filled ways.
Mohammed Nagiff sought me out in October. He wasn’t the first Muslim I’ve met but he was the first to consistently attend church on Sundays and then in December make a profession of faith in Jesus.
15. One hundred years is a rare time in the life of a local church.
North Pointe was a century old in October. We celebrated our past. And we turned the moment into a platform to cast a vision until Jesus returns.
16. I still have a lot to learn.
I’m only sixty-three. I’m still young. Though I have learned so much throughout my life, I still have so much to learn about life and the God who entrusted it to me.
17. Let others have the last word.
APPLICATION: So here’s your space. What did life teach you in 2017? Please leave your comment below. Thank you.
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I write to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.
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