“Turn right in 100 feet” chimes the mechanical voice. As I slowly curve into the intersection, the GPS app follows my turn. How did I get anywhere before navigation apps? Prior to the arrival of GPS, we carefully planned our trips with fold-up maps. When we got lost in-route, we asked real-live people for directions! Family vacations required diligent preparation. Even the early days of GPS-technology were often hazardous; out-of-date information directed drivers to closed roads, gravel paths, or maybe a lake!
Current “real-time” route advice with personalized instructions makes the new technology nearly foolproof. We can avoid road construction, U-turns, and traffic congestion—arriving at the destination unscathed and unruffled. Thanks to GPS, driving decisions involve less guesswork; each turn is clearly mapped. And if we miss our exit, the glorious “re-route” feature kicks in automatically!
Navigating the “Journey of Life”
Ever wish for a GPS-app for the journey of life? Christians generally know our destinations, but we need help getting there without too many U-turns and dead ends. Each New Year offers a fresh opportunity to re-set our lives. We wonder, “What will this year hold?” OR “What goals should I reach for?” We seek God’s wisdom for each area of life—personal, family, ministry, fitness, career, etc. As the year progresses, however, plans inevitably change; our family or ministry needs shift. Instead of reacting to these fluctuations, how can we learn to follow God’s instructions to re-route our journey?
The good news is that the Lord does provide guidance for the journey of life—and it’s even better than a GPS-app! The Holy Spirit Himself is our ever-faithful Guide to navigate life’s challenging changes. In Scripture, the Spirit is often described as “wind” that guides believers (John 3:8). He directed God’s children through the Sinai wilderness by blowing the cloud to prescribed locations (Exodus 13:21). Today the Holy Spirit counsels believers (John 14:16-17), leads our steps (Psalm 25:9-10), trains us how to live (John 14:26), and gives us wisdom as we obey His word (James 1:5). At the end of life, God will reward each of us in response to our obedience (Jeremiah 17:10).
Navigating The New Year—2018
Individuals, families, and ministry teams can live intentionally, following God’s route for the journey instead of wandering aimlessly. “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you’” (Psalm 32:8).
Three steps will direct us along God’s pathway for the New Year.
1. Articulate Your Identity
Know who you are as an individual, as a family, and as a ministry. “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction” (Proverbs 29:18). Our perspective and values shape our future direction. When Gideon was cautiously threshing wheat in a wine press to keep Midianite raiders from stealing the recent harvest, an angel appeared and addressed him as mighty warrior. Gideon had never yet done anything remarkable; no one had composed heroic songs of Gideon’s valor. Mighty warrior? While Gideon remained entirely unaware of his prominent future, God called him according to his intended identity (Judges 6:11-12). Through God’s timeless lens, Gideon would affirm God’s call; he would lead the charge against the Midianite hordes!
Let’s take some time to reflect on our own identity in Christ, that of our family, and ministry. Write a personal or family mission statement that is both memorable and motivational. Here are two examples from real families:
- “Love, honor, purpose, and service”
- “Love all people, walk in faith, live with courage, hunger for more”
Knowing our identity and purpose shapes all other decisions and goals in life.
2. Establish Your Priorities
In light of our identity and ultimate mission, what priorities rise to the surface? As an individual, family, or ministry, spend time writing out key opportunities and needs—based on current realities. Get as specific as possible! For example, during a season when our ministry was growing fast, the primary need was to integrate families—so new kids felt welcomed and connected. This did not replace our vision to disciple children to love Jesus and seek to fulfill His purposes, but for that season we had different practical needs that would eventually fuel the overall vision. Our temporary priority helped narrow my choices and determined how I spent time in the church office each week. Try these key questions to guide that process as a family or ministry:
- What do we need prioritize this season?
- What big time-wasters do we need to cut?
- What will bring us closer to the Lord?
- What current activities may be hindering our vision?
- What new activities may advance the vision?
After identifying overall and short-term priorities, proceed to the planning phase!
3. Implement Your Vision
Bring out the calendar and take time to plan and schedule together. One time I wrote down each important priority, value, or idea on a sticky-note. One-by-one, I added them to my new year. Try these steps for a vision meeting:
- Start with worship! Give the New Year to God; seek His wisdom about how to plan and proceed (Proverbs 1:7).
- Place prioritized ideas on the table for review. Prayerfully evaluate activities, habits, and life choices.
- Schedule big events and high priorities first—family missions trip, daily devotions, or church outreach event. Then add other important activities as time allows.
- Schedule time for rest, recuperation, and rhythms of life. Resting and recharging are essential (Hebrews 4:9-11).
- Eliminate extraneous activities. Saying “yes” to God’s best sometimes means saying “no” to good things that just do not fit.
God is excited about helping us navigate the New Year! Our purposes, goals, and priorities matter to Him. Perspectives drive actions. Be intentional. Choose to steward time and resources to respond to God’s heaven-sent direction. Under the Lord’s leadership, we can purposefully move, step-by-step, towards His goals. God’s guidance, much like a GPS, will help us make decisions and adjust to last-minute needs that arise. Consciously live for Christ every day!
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.”