From The Pastor – January 2024

“Brothers, sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will
reveal that also to you.” ~Philippians 3:13-15

New session member Michael Van Utven was installed in December.

Happy New Year! I hope that your Christmas was everything that you had hoped for, surrounded with supportive family, encouraging friends, lots of amusement and joy. The week after Christmas is often full of relaxation, large amounts of good food, and leftover Christmas cookies. It is a very special time for me. I always look forward to it and reserve vacation time so I can make the most of it.

When New Year’s rolls around, We head back to work and take a good look at the way things are. We think about the way things could be. After the slower paces and rich abundant food has done its magic, oftentimes people start talking about New Year’s resolutions. This is the topic that I would like to chat about today. Not about the resolutions themselves but how we approach them. Because how we approach them may be as important as the goals themselves.

All too often we try to shame ourselves into action. Unhappy about the way we look or act or feel, we focus on that unsettledness to fuel the change. And, this works for a bit but never for the long term. If we want to truly change, to grow into a healthier, happier person, we need to plan to work with intelligence and grace. We need to find our sources of strength and draw on our resources.

A couple of years ago, the school system started a new initiative to build resilience in young people. The program, titled Sources of Strength, brought together young people and inspirational speakers, dedicated teachers, and administrators. Students learn about a whole matrix of resources that make a person healthy, safe, and strong. After this time, I was invited to facilitate some small groups with the students. It was fascinating to hear the take-aways these young people heard. The most remarkable aha-moment came from a young lady in middle school. Her resolution was, “I am going to talk more kindly to myself.”

God rarely, if ever, shames a person into action. More often, God will reach out in grace and mercy. So, perhaps we should do that ourselves. Rather than focusing on what is wrong, think about the solution. In what ways do you want to change? How do you want to grow? What do you want to grow into? Then, think about the change as a chance to invest in yourself. Encourage yourself to make choices that make you feel better rather than shame yourself.

Speak kindly to yourself, as a trusted friend would. It may make a significant difference in not only how you feel but most importantly, your results. God cares about the whole you. Your health is important. So, take it seriously. The way you motivate yourself may be as important as your goals themselves.