Changes shouldn’t happen just in January
The Rev. Shaun LePage, pastor, Community Bible Church, 906 N. 1464 Road:
On the one hand, my New Year’s resolutions are no different than anyone else: I want to drop a few pounds, spend more quality time with my family and get my entire life more organized! Pastors are just people. Sinful. Imperfect. A work in process.
One of the mistakes many people make — including pastors — is putting pastors up on a pedestal. Of course, many others tend to put all pastors down on the level of con-artists and pick-pockets, but both extremes are foolish. The New Testament does not make a distinction between “clergy” and “laity” as many modern churches do. All Christians are part of the “Body of Christ” and are equal in Christ. True, we’re all given different gifts and we have different roles to play, but it only creates problems when we try to exalt ourselves as more important than everyone else.
Pastors are just people. Anyone who thinks otherwise will be disappointed and probably hop around from church to church looking for the super-human pastor of their imaginations. Only Jesus Christ is perfect and without sin! He alone has no need of making New Year’s resolutions!
On the other hand, those of us who find ourselves in positions of leadership within Christianity (I can’t speak for those of other religions) are held to a higher standard in various ways and should constantly evaluate ourselves. We should ask ourselves if we are leading with the servant-leader attitude Christ taught us to have. We should ask whether our ministries are being faithful to God’s revealed instructions (i.e., the Bible). Most importantly, after we’ve asked these questions, we should resolve ourselves to whatever change and improvement is necessary in order to glorify our God. These “resolutions” can’t wait for New Year’s. They need to be done all year long.
New Year provides opportunity for rebirth
The Rev. Paul McLain, Curate, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.:
One of the most exciting things about the birth of a child is giving the newborn baby a name. In the Episcopal Church, Jan. 1 is not only the start of a new calendar year, it is the “Feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord.” It is a holy day in which we remember that a week after his birth, Mary and Joseph’s newborn baby was given the name Jesus. Jesus means “God with us.” This act of naming gives meaning and purpose to the birth of Christ.
Making New Year’s resolutions or setting goals for 2010 is to name the intentions that God is birthing within us. I write my goals for the year in my journal, which is a way of writing a “birth certificate” for these goals and naming them by recording them in a book that I review throughout the year. My goals this year include stretching myself in new ways along with slowing down to see, appreciate, and share with others the work and splendor of God’s ongoing creation. I will seek to live and listen in the “now.”
I have been giving a lot of thought to another name in the Bible: Barnabas. The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas lived into the meaning of his name by being a mentor to Saul, who became the apostle Paul. In 2010, I have set a goal of being more like Barnabas, looking for ways to encourage others to name, develop, and exercise their spiritual gifts. This goal is true to what I see as a vital role of an ordained minister, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry.” (Ephesians 4:12) During 2010, I resolve to live into the name of “priest” by encouraging others to live into their names as “ministers.”