By Mark A. Taylor
Dear Reader: This is adapted from a post that first appeared five years ago. It still seems pretty current to me, mainly because I still need to follow my own advice here! So let’s read it together as, once again, we recommit ourselves to faith and ministry at the beginning of a new year.
Anytime can be the right time for new beginnings, but the transition to a new year seems like a natural. If you’re looking for new ways God could use you in 2017, here are some possibilities.
Enhance strengths. Instead of concentrating on all the things you do NOT do well, think what would happen if you just polished and perfected the gifts you have.
You love to speak; try memorizing your meditations or lessons or sermons. You’re naturally organized; volunteer to take on a larger project than you’ve ever managed. You do OK on the piano or guitar or drums, but what would happen if you practiced your instrument instead of just playing it? You’re always reading; why not choose some books outside your usual genre or comfort zone?
We know the young Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. And we know that progress need not stop just because we’ve become the age we are. This could be the year to experience the exhilaration of really growing.
Protect your weaknesses. Years ago in a North American Christian Convention sermon, Bob Russell mentioned that a pornography shop had opened next door to his favorite dry cleaner. “After a few weeks, I decided I needed to change dry cleaners,” he confessed.
Too many spend too much time trying to make their weaknesses strong. A better course is to admit the weakness and take steps to compensate for it. Make a plan for avoiding the temptation that plagues you, and talk with a friend about it. Recruit team members with abilities to complement your own. Give attention to what you do best and recruit helpers for the areas where you typically fall short.
Develop a disciple. When Christ commanded us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), he spoke of a process, not an event. Conversion is one step, but disciples develop over a lifetime.
How can you help someone else learn more about God? Each of us knows someone whose faith in Christ we can nourish. Maybe we have a non-Christian neighbor or coworker struggling to believe. Maybe we live with a young person learning to trust God. Maybe we know a new Christian eager to discover the joy of submitting to Christ. Maybe we have a friend confused by disappointment or death.
Whatever our situation, each of us can pray for God to use us in 2017. And each of us can watch for the surprising way he may decide to answer us.