8 Tips to Starting the New Year Off Right

We all want to start the New Year with goals, strong resolve, and a plan to achieve those goals. But now that we’re a couple of weeks into January, how do we continue what we set out to accomplish on January 1st?

We encourage others to set strong goals and to make positive changes in their lives, but as ministry leaders do we follow our own advice? We know the right things to do and what we want those in our congregation to do, but the actual implementation in our own lives seems tough. We have a lot on our plates, and our schedules are extremely full with really important stuff!

Valid maybe, but a viable excuse for not living out what we teach? Nope! 

We need to remind ourselves of some of the “tips” and “advice” we like to give people that we need to apply to our own lives. While you may not be able to implement all 8 of these tips at the beginning of this new year, these are truths that will help you stay the course in ministry and help you avoid burnout. 

  1. Every “yes” you say is a “no” to someone else. Most of us have a nasty habit of overcommitting ourselves. We find it far easier to say “yes” than “no.” You’ve gotta cut that out. Make a habit to uncommit to something each time you make a new commitment.
  2. Sabbath is a commandment for a reason. God gave us the 10 Commandments, not 10 suggestions. He knew we would need rest and most likely realized we would not always be wise enough to take time to rest unless He made it a commandment. Figure out what helps you sabbath and then DO it.
  3. We were meant for community. We tell other people this all the time but don’t find time or space in our own lives for relationships. We know relationship found within community is lifegiving and healthy, but we bow to our schedules and don’t live with the intentionality needed to have the community we desperately need. For your long-term health (and obedience to the Lord) this needs to become a priority.
  4. You aren’t winning at all if you are losing at home. You have seen and probably known individuals with fruitful ministries who stumbled morally or were emotionally absent and lost their families. Don’t do that. Win at home. Do what it takes to give your spouse and children the time they deserve. You need it as much as they do.
  5. You need spiritual food, just as much as you need physical food. Your spirit needs attention. Be good to yourself by investing in your relationship with the Lord. Spend time in His Word. Plan an overnight retreat with just you and your Bible. Renew that intimacy with Him by spending time talking and listening to Him.
  6. Hydrate! This sounds oversimplified, but in other words, take care of your physical self. Eat real food and drink plenty of water. It helps with mental clarity, emotional well-being, physical stamina, and more. 
  7. Sleep is NOT overrated. Insomnia is often part of the life of a ministry leader. It can be hard to unwind and slow our brains down enough to get good rest. Do what it takes to help you get to a place where you can sleep. Read a mindless book, exercise, do a puzzle, talk to a friend, talk to a counselor, talk to your doctor. But do what it takes to get good sleep. It’s a game-changer.
  8. Your calendar reveals where your priorities lie. If you are struggling with figuring out how to incorporate many of these in your daily life, then it might be time to look at your calendar. Sometimes we forget that even in ministry we are in charge of our calendars. Our calendars should not be in charge of us. Become the boss of your calendar. If that feels overwhelming, then it’s time to really take a hard look at where you’re spending the majority of your scheduled and unscheduled time. Then make some adjustments.

Making these happen might mean having some hard conversations. It will probably require change, which isn’t always easy. But the reason you even started reading this is because you want something different for yourself. You want the year ahead to be healthier and less stressful with more moments of joy. It is possible. Do what it takes to get there and have a happy, blessed New Year!

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