Remember Forward: Prepare for 2018

Reflect on the past year and turn it into action.

As a new year begins and you start the first pages of your calendar, it’s natural to reflect on the past 12 months and everything that’s happened, both personally and professionally. But how do you make that a useful process rather than just a cataloging of achievements and struggles as a church leader?

Looking back is only helpful if you can turn your reflection into action. Here are some steps to help you prepare for a new year that’s even better than the last.

1. Pray—Every process should, of course, begin with prayer. Pray that God will reveal new insights about yourself and your ministry, and give you insight into how to apply those insights. Pray for your supervisor to also have wisdom and courage to speak any hard truths to you with love.

2. Reflect—Look back over your wins and victories, as well as losses and failures as a ministry team and individually. Can you see a common thread among them? Is there one specific area where you are excelling? Are there certain things that you are consistently struggling with? Take this time to honestly review yourself and your ministry over the past year.

3. Review—During your annual review, ask your supervisor if they see the same strengths and areas for improvement that you do, or if you have some blind spots in either category. Add this feedback to your own assessment to check how accurately you are assessing yourself.

4. Learn—Now that you’ve had time to review and reflect, you can begin to ask deeper questions. How do you keep the momentum of your wins? Are they sustainable or were they unique experiences that you shouldn’t expect to duplicate? How do you view your challenges or failures as assets and not liabilities? How do you leverage those situations that might not normally be considered positive experiences?

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Changing your perspective on difficulties of the past year will help propel you to success in the future and will make you a more valuable staff member of your ministry or organization.

5. Summarize—Create a summary of your past year to use as you plan for 2018. If you’re not someone who enjoys writing, even a list of bullet points and general thoughts will help you remember everything that this process has brought up.

While you should feel free to reflect and review in whatever way makes the most sense to you, this isn’t the time for a haphazard approach to recording the outcomes of that process. Remember the adage “The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.”

6. Rest—For some church leaders, conducting a self-assessment this thorough is made a little easier by getting away on a mini-retreat, whether for a weekend or simply an afternoon. Physically removing yourself from your everyday surroundings, routine and the distractions of life can give you new perspective and make it easier to focus.

—Vanderbloemen Search Group