This past year taught us to plan in pencil and pray “as the Lord wills.” I am no prophet and predicting the future is foolish. Yet as shepherds we watch over the flock and desire to lead well through the dark valleys and difficult paths that lay ahead. So I humbly offer fellow pastors three helpful views for the church navigating a new year.
- A high view of GOD: The present crisis always seems to captivate the mind. I want to help our membership possess a big view of God. He is everything we need and should desire. If God’s people see him as he is revealed in the scriptures, they won’t worry, or fret no matter who controls congress or the White House. Every message, every conversation, and every public prayer is an opportunity to help them see their father.
- An honest view of our journey: Our church spent two months this year exploring our identity as exiles (sojourner) in this life (1 Peter 1:1 & 2:11). As exiles we are not in the majority. Because exiles experience suffering and hardship, we found it helpful to teach the church how to lament. We recently hosted a lament service where we prayed and cried together over the deaths and difficulties of this year. This honest view of the journey stirs a genuine longing for Christ’s return. The New Testament calls this hope (1 Peter 1:3, 13, 21; 3:15).
- A humble view of self: Who am I? I’m someone who needs the church body to correct me and pray with me. I have a heart that wrongly lusts after things this world offers. I’m someone whose faith is weak. But I’m also someone who in God’s image and by God’s grace can share gospel truth with fellow strugglers. God calls the weak and the foolish; brothers we qualify. The good news is if the first two views are rightly taught, this one quickly becomes clear. This humble perspective will even affect the way we fill out our calendars and write down our goals for 2021 (James 4:13-16).
What will change in 2021? Not much. The brokenness of humanity will continue to be headline news. But lasting change is possible when humble exiles who hope in a promise keeping God pursue his eternal glory and make known his infinite goodness. I’m praying that God grants us all grace to lead his flock to rely wholly on the Chief Shepherd in challenging days ahead.