And, all of a sudden, it is 2019! Although it’s still ‘technically’ Christmas until Epiphany, it is time to shift gear for all that this New Year will bring.
I remember back in the mid 1990s The Salvation Army brought out a 2020 Vision scheme – everyone was invited to imagine how different their own setting could/should be, and to plan towards it. 2020 seemed like a million years away, and, surely enough, the 2020 Vision scheme changed with the fadish nature of leadership. That’s the problem with ‘vision’, leadership and the illusion of having all the time in the world!
This year, a new leadership task has come before me, not unlike others that have come before, but a different challenge nonetheless. At the end of November the church community I’ve been working with invited me to be their Pastor. We’ve had Christmas to enjoy since all of that happened, but in this New Year, there is work to be done.
In many ways, I am totally not driven by the ‘here’s what it will look like in 5 years’ type of thing, although it has its uses practically. For me, vision is much more about aligning ourselves with the core essentials of being a Christian community. Practically, that can take many and varied forms. I don’t feel those forms need to be controlled, rather, that the people of God are released and realise that the Spirit has already given permission to pioneer, try, explore and be inventive in partnership with Him mainly on their own front lines, wherever they are, and as a community of God’s people together.
My heart is to continue the work that others have done in this community to ensure the gospel of Jesus is at the centre; that disciples are intentionally made, including many new disciples; that community is built as a colony of heaven here in Hertford; and that the glory of God is unveiled in increasing measure. The rest, as they say, is commentary.
And I seek to come to this with my own three key-words to the fore. These are key values that have been part of my own personal commitment to the life of leadership and discipleship for some time:
- Availability: to be available, firstly, to God in whatever way he will use me or not, and then to be available to others.
- Vulnerability: to be thoroughly open to God for him to challenge, change, chide, and then to be open before God’s people so that the life of God in me can be witnessed, challenged, accessed and open.
- Creativity: to join in the work of God in creating new possibilities in ways that are life giving, and that reflect God’s kingdom and the One who sits upon it’s throne.
Oh…and I come in peace. People love to go to war with whoever exercises any sort of leadership authority, inside church and outside. I come peaceably. Inevitably, it won’t be long until I upset someone somehow. Probably done it already. Guess what? Human, I am. But I’ve also been round the block a few times after 18 years in ministry, so surprised I won’t be!
I haven’t chosen any of these years in ministry. They’ve come through obedience to the one who calls. I’m just doing as I’m told…the best place to be.
Here’s a prayer I often pray at this time of year: the Methodist covenant prayer.
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen