I am always striving to be better – a better leader, a better parent, a better person. At the end of the day, most of us try to do a little better than the day before.
Still, there’s always room for improvement.
At the end of each year, I take a day or two spiritual retreat to reflect on the previous year. I skim through my black notebook which contains goals, ideas, dreams, prayers, hopes, and aspirations. It’s a meaningful practice that reminds me of difficult moments, but also amazing moments too.
As a runner, I like to calculate my running mileage. Week after week…it adds up! And, knowing what I was able to accomplish over the past twelve months, I can then set new goals for the coming year.
Prayers – I read over the prayers I wrote in my journal. Typically, when I receive a prayer request from someone, I make a note as a way to remember them. Reviewing these notes brings those people back to mind and gives me a chance to lift them and their circumstances again in prayer.
I read over the ideas, dreams, and hopes I’ve recorded. Going back over ideas I scribbled in my notebook is a helpful way to prepare for the coming year. As I go, I like to reconsider ideas I wrote down but didn’t follow through on.
In no particular order, here are three takeaways from my spiritual retreat 2022:
People are still coming back; it’s a slow process
I don’t just mean your congregation or participants in your favorite activities. I recently had a conversation with an executive of a large organization, and we were talking about our energy levels. For many, work has returned to or exceeded the pre-pandemic pace. What often hasn’t returned is the energy or capacity to keep that pace. Some are reconsidering work-life balance, opting to resist the frenetic pace of organizations or our culture at large. Not everyone is resistant, but many are still coming back from the impact of the pandemic. It’s a slow process, but there is progress.
Divisiveness and polarization are here to stay; we don’t have to participate
This year, which included midterm elections, seemed to further polarize and alienate people from one another. Each political cycle only seems to exacerbate this reality. But, here’s the thing – we don’t have to participate. I don’t mean we forget our politics or remain inactive on important matters. We just don’t have to treat the other side as the enemy. We can be kind, just, and humble in every interaction and disagreement.
Running is amazing; it’s better with people
Running is my thing. I love running, but it tends to be an individualistic sport (at least that’s what most people assume). Perhaps more acutely than before, I’ve learned the importance of a team or community of people with whom to share life. What is your thing? Whatever it is, I’m guessing it’s better with a community of people. And, the same is true for our work life. It’s always better with people. So, any way you can create community, create it.
As we wrap up 2022 and consider things we might do better, take time to calculate your accomplishments, pray for the needs that have crossed your path, reflect on your ideas and dreams, and use your learnings to propel you into the new year.
And, know I am cheering for you!
Rev. Dr. Joshua Clough serves as Location Pastor for Resurrection Overland Park. Joshua also partners with our ShareChurch team as Director of the ShareChurch Academy to provide practical leadership resources to pastors and other leaders. Joshua completed his doctorate in Practical Theology and Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. He runs marathons, ultra-marathons, and because he grew up in Seattle, drinks a lot of coffee.