We love to make and break New Year’s resolutions. We are fast approaching “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day” — you can mark your calendar for January 17th to take in that festive celebration. Although most of us make it past January 17th, the average New Year’s resolution only lasts 3.74 months.* No matter how you slice it, the stats are abysmal. When it comes to to 2024 ministry goals, it is time to do something different.
The different thing for 2024: Who Ahead of How.*
New Year’s resolutions focus almost entirely on what and how. What is it that I am going to start doing or stop doing? How am I going to accomplish it? If we start asking “Who?” we will undoubtedly discover different outcomes to our goals. This is actually a model that Jesus provides for us in Matthew 9. Recall when Jesus was talking about the upcoming harvest, he called his disciples to prayer:
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (ESV)
The first “who” to pay attention to is the “capital W” Who, God Himself. The goal set forth here is not simply what a super skilled minister is to undertake. People are called to join God in His Kingdom work. There is not an individualistic call to a purposeful life–the imperative is to first seek out God and join Him. The purposeful work flows from knowing the Who.
The second “who” is straight forward: people. The focus is not on a great system or innovative strategy as the first step. The call is to pray for and seek out the “Who” of ministry. This is not simply praying for people to fill the open positions in a religious institution. This is praying for the equipping and sending of gifted and skilled people for God’s glory. This implicitly involves identifying leaders that God is raising up. We rarely start with searching for the who–we love to have the what and how firmly established before we get around to delegating the who.
The third “who” is you and I. That’s right, be careful what you pray for. In Matthew 10, the prayer of chapter 9 is answered by Jesus sending out the disciples themselves. We need to be ready to be the who of the prayer. Rather than pre-determining our what and how for all of 2024, we should ensure that we are living out our who. Living as Jesus’ disciples every day places us on the journey where we live out the what and how.
What would happen if our 2024 ministry resolutions circled around this three-fold who? I think that resolutions would last for more than 3.74 months. The investment in who is likely to have generational impact.
If you would like to know more about the intersection of who, what, and how among Seventh Day Baptists, check out the recording of our recent Winter Virtual Delegate Forum: 2024 SDB WVDF.
*This concept is prominent in a number of current written works, such as Who Not How.