Ten Questions for 2009, Part 1
I recently was directed to a fantastic resource provided by Don Whitney, professor of Biblical Spirituality at my alma mater, Southern Seminary. In it, he asks Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or on Your Birthday. Over the next few days I’m going to blog through each of these questions, doing two or three questions per installment unless a question takes up an entire post. Since I am doing self-reflection with these, all of the answers will be personal rather than ministry-related. I may well do this again when I’m done with a ministry focus!
And with no further ado, here’s Dr. Whitney’s introduction to the questions, followed by the first couple of questions and my answers.
Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or on Your Birthday
Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.
Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
I can be determined to live joyfully for God, and not allow anyone to steal my joy. The past two years have brought much grief as I have, sadly, been exposed to what one pastor friend calls “small church politics.” I have learned a lot about ministry and who I can trust as a pastor. I have briefly and vaguely blogged about the experience, considering discretion the better part of valor.
I have also, more recently, had to sever close friendships in order to protect my integrity and ministry. Ending these relationships brought much pain which has yet to be resolved. I have had to remind myself that the joy of knowing Christ and serving him are far greater than the grief-bringing experience of broken trust and sorrow. As such, I must live the words of Paul as he sat in jail expecting his life to end at any moment – I must be full of joy at a sovereign God who works all things for the good of those who love him.
I must also rejoice at what God has done in my life and what he will continue to do. I have a daughter that causes that joy to burst forth as a fountain! I have a wife that makes the waters of that joy warm with love and comfort! I serve a church that I love and has a pastor under whose tutelage I have done nothing but grow! God has provided for us and will continue to provide!
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
To provide the means and direction to get us out of debt. By debt, I do not mean what Dave Ramsey calls “stupid debt” like credit cards and such. My wife and I have student loans from college to pay off. That is, thankfully, the only debt we have. But we are not able to do much more than pay the regular payments, especially since Tricia is not able to work full-time since becoming pregnant with Grace and then with Grace’s birth in January 08. We are not really able to save money, nor are we able to tithe, since our church experienced severe budget cuts in 2008 which extended to my salary. This means that in order to get it paid off so that we can actually use our finances to the glory of God, things must change.
My wife and I would like to have more children, and to me that means I need to be in a position where she does not have to work and we are not stretching our finances to the breaking point. UPS has been a fantastic employer – we have never wanted for anything, and everything they have given me as their employee (salary and benefits) has made it possible for us to be where we are today.
We will be asking God to make the way clear for me to get a full-time day job. Whether that is at UPS or elsewhere remains to be seen. I have begun the process of moving to a full-time position at UPS, but that process could be lengthy. There is also no guarantee of promotion, though I can clearly see God’s sovereign guidance at work as I have worked with my superiors over the past year. If I cannot get promotion, it may well mean it is time for me to look elsewhere, meaning I will have to leave a company I have come to love. This could mean finding full-time ministry, it could mean finding full-time secular employment outside of UPS, only the Lord knows the plans he has for us.
I look forward to seeing how God will provide for us as we seek to honor him by getting out of debt and becoming wise stewards of the finances he has provided.
Next Time: Questions 3 and 4.