In addition to this being the start of a new year, it is the beginning of a brand new decade. This year also marks the commencement of my fifth decade as a pastor.
In every church I have served over the past 40 years, the leadership team would conduct the arduous work of casting a vision for the congregation. A carefully crafted vision pictured a preferred future for which goals and objectives became stepping stones. A vision serves as a vehicle to get you where you want to go. A vision is crucial for a church, an organization, a nation as well as an individual.
Crossing the threshold of this New Year, I’m in the process of formulating a vision for this season of my life. Perhaps my “work in progress” will prompt you to initiate or personalize your own. Although my eyesight has diminished with age, when it comes to the next 12 months my vision this year is definitely 2020.
Because seeing is believing, visualizing desired change is the first stage in realizing what you long for. Picturing a preferred future can be translated into goals or resolutions. I believe my New Year’s resolutions will motivate me to become more effective as a husband, father, grandfather and pastor.
This year I resolve to glance back while gazing forward. Lessons learned this past year are worth reflecting on. Embracing nostalgic moments has a way of softening the hardship of current realities. But too much past-pondering can be counterproductive. The operative words are glance and gazing. My 2020 vision invites me to spend more time contemplating the future than considering the past.
This year I also resolve to focus on what is right with our world instead of being so quick to identify the issues that bother me. The headlines of national and world events can coax us into thinking crime, scandal and injustice dominate human existence. I am determined to look for the good and decent in every day. Godwinks, generosity and random acts-of-kindness are more common than we realize.
I also resolve to engage people who think differently than I do when it comes to matters of faith, political perspectives and cultural values. While I treasure what I believe to be true, I want to esteem people created in the image of our Creator even more. In this current milieu of hate speak and adversarial-ism, I refuse to give in to us-versus-them ideology.
Furthermore, I resolve to look inside myself when my sense of worth starts to blur and I have a hard time remembering what I am skilled at doing. Focusing on what others affirm in me can silence my doubts and clarify my calling in life. Reviewing past achievements (and failures) serves to remind me of what I can easily forget. Watching “film” is not just the prerogative of NFL players.
Finally, I resolve to look up when I start to lose my focus on matters of the heart. I determine to always admit my need for help no matter how many candles will adorn my next birthday cake.
Even though I’ve been a man of the cloth since 1979, I first learned the importance of admitting my helplessness when the cloth that defined my position in life was a security blanket I pulled across the playroom. Requesting a helping hand from a parent paved the way for acknowledging one’s need for God. And that need to look up never goes away.
So, there’s my 2020 vision. My picture of a preferred future is still a work in process, but it’s something tangible on which to focus. Here’s hoping you’ll discover the wide-eyed wonder of picturing your dreams for the coming year.
Greg Asimakoupoulos is the chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores retirement community.