So teach us to number our days that we may present to You a heart of Wisdom.
(Psalm 90:12, NASB)
As we approach the end of the year and begin a new year, it’s an appropriate time to examine the past and think forward to the future. Psalm 90:12 reminds us of the importance of stewardship. How am I doing in this stewardship with my wife and family, work, resources, service to the church, and use of time? Although I don’t necessarily agree with ancient Greek philosophers, I think Socrates got it right when he said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” This is a good time of the year to do some thoughtful examination. Here are some questions I am asking as this year draws to an end.
1. Have I kept perspective on why I am doing what I’m doing? In the busyness of our work it is easy to lose focus and see our worship responsibilities as a job. As a worship minister I first want to examine my commitment to the Lord and His calling on my life. Our service to the Lord and His church is not a job but a calling. Colossians 3:23 reminds us that we are all called to our work by the Lord, and “it is the Lord Christ” we are serving. Then who am I serving in this ministry? Yes, I’m serving my pastor and my congregation but I’m ultimately and chiefly serving Jesus. How is my attitude towards ministry as I approach the new year? Sometimes it is all about perspective.
2. Am I growing in my love for the Lord and His Word? Along with the busyness of our work, we can easily drift away in our relationship with the Lord. It can be such a slow drift that we may not even notice we have been drifting for a while. How committed am I to daily prayer and Bible study? Slipping in the area of my daily time alone with the Lord usually displays itself in an increase in sinfulness such as sinful thoughts and attitudes. Staying in God’s Word on a regular basis keeps my heart, soul and mind attuned to God’s perspective on life and service. As ministers we minister to our congregations out of the overflow of God’s work in our lives. If this spring of living water in our lives is stale or dry, we cannot effectively minister to those we lead. What do I need to do this new year to make a fresh commitment to hiding God’s Word in my heart (Psalm 119:11)?
3. Am I fighting sin and running from temptations? Although for ministers there have always been sinful temptations along the way, today seems to be a more dangerous time for the minister due to the ease of exposure to temptations through technology. Sexual temptation is a constant fight. How am I doing in the area of sexual purity? Internet pornography will quickly destroy ministers, their families and their ministries. Sin brings destruction. How am I safeguarding my life so that I do not fall into sexual sin? Brothers and sisters, do not allow Satan to get a stronghold in your life through this door of sexual sin. The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 10:12 that we should take heed lest we fall. If I think that I cannot be tempted in this area, this is my first step towards ruin.
4. Have I been an effective leader of my family? Worship ministers have to constantly be on guard for their families. Churches can often be very demanding on ministers’ time to the detriment of their families. Ministers need to be in control of their calendars and block times on their calendars for family. If this is not done, something else inevitably gets scheduled at these times. Married ministers should put date nights on their calendars for their spouses. Remember to include your children’s sports and music dates on your calendar and go to their practices and games. Review your weekly schedule to prioritize more time for your family. If my family falls apart, my ministry does also.
5. Have I been an effective leader in my ministry? As I look back over the past year, has the worship ministry thrived or survived? Often times our ministries are suffering due to circumstances at our churches that are beyond our control. It could also be that the ministry suffers due to our own leadership deficiencies. What changes could I implement so this ministry will grow and thrive? Sometimes worship ministers can be lacking in the area of administration and communication. I’ve seen wonderfully gifted worship leaders struggle in these areas. This lack of organization can only last for a short while before the worship ministry is suffering and people no longer want to serve. I want to take some time to analyze my effectiveness as a leader this past year. How did I do in being a good communicator with my worship teams? Were my teams notified well in advance of the special music dates and events so they can plan their calendars? How can I be a better leader of the ministry God has allowed me to lead in the new year?
Prayer for the New Year: Lord, teach us to number our days that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. As we begin the new year Lord, let us be good stewards of our time, gifts and resources as we lead our families and worship ministries. Let us grow in knowledge and service to your glory Lord! Amen!
Greg Brewton is associate professor and chair of the Department of Biblical Worship at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.