3 MISTAKES WE MAKE WHEN FACING THE FUTURE . By Rick Warren

Mistake #1: We make plans without asking God.

At first glance, the plan James describes in verse 13 doesn’t sound out of the ordinary. He writes, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit’” (NLT).

James is describing a person with a thoughtful business plan, one even the book of Proverbs backs up. It’s important to have a strategy about how you’ll engage the future. 

But this entrepreneur is missing something. You’ll notice he doesn’t mention God. It’s all about self-reliance. Four times he mentions what he and the other leaders will do. But there’s not a single word about what God will do.

I know a lot of leaders like this—even pastors. They plan like God doesn’t exist. If you want God’s blessing, you need to involve him in your planning.

Proverbs 3:5-6 famously says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT).

As you look toward the future of your life, your family, and your church, do more than just plan—pray.

Mistake #2: We presume we know what tomorrow holds.

James writes in 4:14-15: “You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and carry out our plans’” (GW).

James goes on to say in verse 16 that presuming to know the future is a form of arrogance. The Bible says there’s both good pride and bad pride. It’s good to say that you’re proud of what God is doing in your life. But the kind of pride in James 4:14-15 is clearly a problem.

If there’s anything 2020 taught us is that we don’t know what tomorrow holds, much less what God will do in the next year. 

The good news is, God’s love, goodness, and reliability can all be counted on. Nothing else in life is dependable.

Mistake #3: We put off doing what’s right.

Procrastination is always the wrong way to handle uncertainty. We procrastinate when we know what we need to do but don’t do it. 

James makes it clear that if we procrastinate doing what’s right, it’s a sin. He writes like this in 5:17: “Whoever knows what is right but doesn’t do it is sinning” (GW).

Procrastination wastes your life and misuses your time. If you procrastinate, you’ll likely miss golden opportunities God has placed before you.

Sin isn’t just about what you do. It’s about what you don’t do. Many of you have been talking for years about a step you know you need to take in your own spiritual journey and in your ministry. 

Why are you waiting?

John writes, “We are sure that we know Christ if we obey his commandments. The person who says, ‘I know him,’ but doesn’t obey his commandments is a liar. The truth isn’t in that person” (1 John 2:3-4 GW).

So don’t put off doing what God has clearly told you to do.

You’ll never escape uncertainty in your ministry. No matter what you’ll face in 2021, you don’t have all the answers right now. Yet by recognizing and avoiding these common mistakes, you can head into uncertainty with faith rather than fear.

WHY ARE FAITH-FILLED GOALS IMPORTANT

Goal setting is a spiritual discipline. 

Just like prayer and Bible study help us grow spiritually, setting goals in faith is a discipline that helps us become more like Christ.

Even God sets goals. He has a plan and is moving history toward a goal. Paul wrote, “[God] planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:10 GW).

God is a goal-setter. When we set goals in faith, we grow more like Jesus.

Goals focus our energy.

Diffused energy doesn’t have much impact, but focused energy has enormous power. Paul described this idea in 1 Corinthians 9:26, “So I run—but not without a clear goal ahead of me. So I box—but not as if I were just shadow boxing” (GW).

Paul wasn’t just running in circles. He had a purpose and was moving toward it. 

Goals help you focus on the things that are worth doing. We don’t have time for everything. The good news is, God doesn’t expect us to do everything. 

Too often we waste our time on second-class causes. Most of what we see going on in our culture today won’t matter next week. As leaders, we need to help people see the difference between what the world says is important and what God says is important. The truth is, what the world says is almost never important. 

The Bible tells us to “Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days” (Ephesians 5:16 GW).

Pastor, are you modeling this practice for your congregation? You can do this when you set biblical, purpose-driven goals for you and your church.

Goals stretch our faith.

Goals are statements of faith that affirm your trust in God. When you set a goal that you plan to accomplish by a certain date, you’re doing so in faith. 

Dreams won’t do you much good unless you wake up and go to work. Resolutions can be important, but you need other things behind them, like a team, accountability, and the power of God.

Goals, on the other hand, are specific and measurable. In fact, goals with parameters are what makes them steps of faith. 

Jesus said, “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV). You haven’t really trusted God until you’ve done something that can’t be done in your own strength. 

Setting goals in faith means taking risks. If you’re not taking risks, your goals are too small and not pleasing to God.

Goals build our character.

The best part of goal-setting isn’t what you accomplish. It’s what God accomplishes in you when you pursue faith-filled goals. This is the plot of a thousand movies you’ve seen. It doesn’t matter whether the goal in the movie is to climb Mount Everest or to fall in love. As the hero chases the goal, the pursuit changes the hero. The hero grows up.

That’s what God wants to do with you. He wants you to grow up. When you get to heaven, you won’t take any of your accomplishments with you. You’ll take you and the character you’ve developed on earth. It’s the process of chasing your goals that God uses to develop the kind of character he wants you to have.

Paul was honest about this journey in his own life. He wrote in Philippians 3:12: “I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his” (NCV).

God’s number one goal for your life isn’t that you’ll grow a large church and have a thriving ministry. He doesn’t just want to make you happy, either. He wants to make you like Jesus.

Goals give us hope.

We all need hope to survive. You can go without food for many days. You can go three days or so without water. You can go without air for a minute or two. But you must have hope to live. It’s essential.

Life is tough. It’s full of losses, accidents, and illnesses. Pastor, I do not know what you’ll face in 2022. I don’t know what I’ll face either. But if we have goals, they’ll get us through the tough times. Goals are magnets that pull us forward. Without goals, we have no reason to move forward. 

Job recognized this in Job 6:11. He had lost everything and asked, “What strength do I have left that I can go on hoping? What goal do I have that I would want to prolong my life?” (GW).

Just like Job, you need a goal to help you keep going when you’re struggling.

Pastor, set some goals for 2022, but don’t stop there. Encourage those you lead to do the same. It may be one of the most important acts of leadership you’ll do this year. 

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE YOU AS A CRITICAL THINKER

As a leader, your team and organization rely on you to have good judgement and make the right decision with the information you have. Good decisions are the product of strong critical thinking skills and thoughtful problem solving. And like all skills, you can learn, practice, and get better at them.”  Eric Zackrison

Steps to ADOPT in becoming a better Critical Thinker.  

1. Formulate your question.

2. Gather your information.

3. Apply the information.

4. Consider the implications.

5. Explore other points of view.  Avoid group thinking.

6. Be well informed.

7. Have an open mind. 

8. Be alert about future events.

9. Be honest about assessing your own biases, prejudices, stereotypes, and/or egocentric tendencies.

10. Separate facts from fiction.

Adopt these behaviors, form good habits and make 2022 an excellent year for you and your circle of influence.

Five Reasons Being a Pastor Is More Difficult Than it Was 15 Years Ago

If you think serving a church as a pastor is more difficult today than in recent years, you are not imagining things. Thom and Sam look at five of the reasons this change took place.

  • Culture no longer honors the role of the pastor.
  • The expectations of pastors by church members have grown significantly.
  • Social media is more toxic than ever.
  • Church practices have changed dramatically.
  • Denominations are no longer a safety net.