For many of us, the days at the end of the year provide an opportunity to reflect on the past year and plan for the coming year. It is a great time to take a "time out" and think about what we may want to do differently in the coming year to keep our hearts fresh, our lives focused and our influence growing.
The most important question we can ask is "How is my heart?" Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." There is no higher priority than ensuring that our hearts are in a good place with God.
A few years ago, I opened the New York Times to see an article about an acquaintance of mine who had been involved in an affair with his supervisor in a major US corporation. The affair spilled over into corporate politics and his life was not only a mess but a public mess.
Many people talked to him in the aftermath, asked him a lot of questions and gave him a piece of their minds. He said that they most helpful question came from a friend who did not condemn or take him to the cleaners but instead asked one gentle question: "How is your heart toward God?" He said that one question, placed the issue into perspective. The issue came down to his heart. He got his heart right and he has his life and marriage back.
For many of us who run too fast, it is the heart question that gets short thrift. As you look back on your year and look forward to a new year, are there ways that you need to refresh, nourish and guard your heart toward God?
How are you doing with your life focus? All of us are called to a specific work and ministry that aligns with our gifting and calling. Over time, however, we accumulate the clutter of obligations, opportunities, or activities that divert or diffuse our focus and therefore diffuse our effectiveness.
This is a great time to evaluate where our focus has been diverted, what activities we should jettison and where we need to refocus our attention for the greatest personal effectiveness. What are the most important things that you need to do in your work and ministry and do you need to refocus in order to do those things well? It is up to us to clear the clutter of life - no one else will do it for us.
Finally, how can you increase your spiritual influence because in the end that is what ought to drive us? Spiritual influence is different than vocational success. Many of us are driven to succeed which is a great thing. But, the eternal impact of our lives, our real legacy comes from spiritual influence with those in our corner of the world.
God has given each of us a circle of influence whether inside or outside of the church. Are we using that opportunity to influence those around us to draw closer to Christ? What can we do this year to increase our spiritual influence?
Reflection is one of the most important things we can do if we desire to live intentionally. Use these days between Christmas and New Years to prayerfully reflect and prayerfully plan. Looking back gives us perspective. Looking forward gives us focus.