It’s nearing the end of the calendar year. Some of us are overly busy in Advent and Christmas services, while others are winding down. Regardless of where you are, you can use the final few weeks of this year well. Because the truth is this, it is easy to bury our heads. It is easy not to use this time intentionally. Ultimately, we will be surprised by the following year- as if we didn’t know a new year was coming.
Using these weeks well can be the difference between a smooth transition into the next calendar year or a headache-riddled season of life.
To help you experience the joy of a smooth beginning to next year, here are five things you need to be doing in the next few weeks.
Five Ways To Prepare For Next Year
I hope you will have some free time over the next few weeks. If you do, you have a choice. You can spend it binge-watching every new show, which honestly can be nice at times. Or, you can decide to use a piece of your newfound free time to invest.
Pick up a book and spend a portion of your time reading. Read something that challenges your faith, beliefs, or skills. Perhaps read about a craft outside of your normal scope. One such example, copywriting.
I know, you’re thinking copywriting? Isn’t that for marketers? And you’d be correct. However, at its core, copywriting is about communication. After studying the copywriting skill, you will increase your social media caption writing or even make writing those newsletters easier.
Coffee With A Mentor
When was the last time you met someone older or more experienced than you for coffee (or tea, or coke)? Or when was the last time you had a safe place to ask questions and get insights you will need in the new year?
Recently I was gifted with the opportunity to meet with a retired pastor that I respect. We now meet monthly. Even though I have experience in ministry and often coach others, I still greatly benefit from the insights of others. You are never too skilled or experienced to learn from others.
Reach out to someone, schedule a time to meet. Ask that person to make it a regular meeting with you. And if you need youth or children’s ministry mentoring, we have leadership coaching that would be highly beneficial for you.
Spend That Budget
Many churches look to cut budgets. And what will they cut first? The answer is ministries that did not spend their budget the year before.
Spending your budget before the end of the year is wise because it helps you keep the same budget level the following year. Spending it now can help ease pressure on the next year’s budget. So make deposits on trips. Explore continuing education opportunities. Invest in leaders or students.
Whatever you do, find a way to use that budget!
Invest In Family
You don’t have to be in ministry long to realize that it requires a lot of sacrifices. Yes, sacrifices on your part. But even more so, sacrifices by your family.
Your kids may have missed time with you. Your spouse may need extra attention from you. Listen to them deeply or give extra foot rubs. Perhaps your parents could use a facetime call or visit.
It is easy to think we are the only ones making sacrifices. But in reality, your family also misses time with you while you are away on trips, concerts, or leading studies. An investment in your family will be good for you, but even more so will greatly benefit your relationship with some of the most significant people in your life.
Our spiritual formation often falls flat when we are running through a busy season. Use this extra time to refocus your heart toward Christ. Spend time in prayer – whether this is free-form prayer, Lectio Divina, or using a resource like the book of common prayer (or this one).
Read scripture or explore the writings of great spiritual formation leaders. Do whatever you need to refill that spiritual tank of yours. We all know the next year is coming, and it will be busy – so prepare now.
The weeks at the end of the year can be a gift. You can use them well to prepare for the next year. So what will you do, and how will you be prepared to lead and love well next year?
Rev. Brian Lawson is the Director of Leadership Development and Client Services for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. He also serves as a pastor in the Florida Conference of the UMC. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.