Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
My wife and I had recently had our “Annual Meeting.” This means we sat down with some decaf (a little caffeine sprinkled in to make sure we stayed awake) and talked about the past year. The last twelve months have been somewhat crazy for us as a family. The three-and-a-half year process of an international adoption went from being an “idea” to a reality within the last year. Our family expanded from a family with three kids to four kids. We have faced some incredible moments – both highs and lows.
Here are a couple of the questions we ask at our “Annual Meeting”:
If Jesus has us sitting here a year from now…
What is one BIG thing that we hope to be able to celebrate during this time of reflection?
In our relationship(s) with Jesus, where would we love to see God grow us, develop us, and lead us to becoming more like Him? (…and do we truly want that, regardless of the cost?)
What are a few things we want to celebrate happened in our marriage?
With each of our kids, how do we sense God leading us to lead them? Where do we hope they are at – a year from now?
In the area of our finances, the use of our time, and our energy, how can we be better stewards of all that God has entrusted to us and live free from comparison and discontentment and truly enjoy what we have in 2016?
As a married couple, we can’t cultivate deep and meaningful friendships and relationships with everyone… but that’s a lousy excuse to not go deep with a few… So who is God calling us to grow deeper with and cultivate a stronger friendship?
A few years ago, Henry Cloud spoke at the Global Leadership Summit. In his message to leaders, Cloud essentially said this:
As leaders, you are people who take charge and do stuff. Leaders take the stewardship God has given them and exert their energy in that space to lead people and take ownership of that. The biggest factor on whether you will get from here to there is whether or not you believe it can be done. The number one factor is “do you believe that it can happen.” All leaders believe it can happen when they start, but then something happens—they get into a circumstance (and it will happen to you) where they become out of control (that is, not of their own doing—they are out of control of the circumstances behind them, and that begins to change their brain: learned helplessness).
It’s easy to look at our list of things we hope to celebrate at the end of 2016 and fall into a sense of “learned helplessness” with many of our goals and desires.
Dr. Cloud offers us this very helpful insight that we are praying guides us in the pursuit of things that matter in 2016 when we face challenges and obstacles –
“The one thing we know about behavior is that it is under your control. When you recognize that fact, you can move from being overwhelmed to being empowered. You realize that everything that causes bad outcomes is in your control to change, and that everything that causes good outcomes is also due to your behavior. Change behavior, and you change outcomes. That is power. And empowering. Write two columns. What you can control and what you can’t control. Think about what you can’t control as hard as you can—for five minutes. Then take action on the stuff you can control.” (Boundaries for Leaders)
I hope you get some time with your spouse, your co-workers, your team, your family to reflect on 2015 and begin to pray, dream, and talk about the things you want to celebrate a year from now!