Our God is the God of second chances and fresh starts.
Pastor, as you head into 2022, you may be ready to let go of a dream or a vision that God has given you. But don’t give up, because the year ahead is another opportunity to pursue the dream God has given you.
God’s Word gives us five simple steps for seizing the fresh start he wants to give us. I’ve created an acrostic, S-T-A-R-T, to help us remember these steps as we try to apply them in 2022.
Stop making excuses for not starting.
The biggest barriers to your success are your own excuses. God has a lot to say about your excuses. Just look at the four most common excuses we make when giving up on a dream.
- “I don’t have what it takes to go after my dream.” Many people in the Bible tried making this excuse, including Moses, Jeremiah, and Gideon. But God reminded each one that he is with them as they fulfill his calling for their lives. And God’s answer to your insecurity is to also remind you that you are not alone. To Gideon, he sent an angel to say, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” (Judges 6:12 NCV). It’s a good truth to remember the next time you feel overwhelmed.
- “I have failed in the past.” You’re not alone. Every human who has ever existed (other than Jesus) has failed. God wants to tell you exactly what he told Isaiah: “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NCV)
- “There are things I can’t control.” The truth is, you can’t control most of what happens in life, and that’s okay. Control what you can and leave the rest to God. That doesn’t mean you’re helpless. It means you give to God what you can’t control. Proverbs 24:10 says, “Don’t give up and be helpless in times of trouble” (CEV).
- “I don’t know what the future holds.” You’ll never know what the future holds. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest” (NLT). Those aren’t just words for farmers. They’re words for pastors who are ready to give up on God’s dreams only because they can’t guarantee success.
Take stock of what you have.
You have more going for you in pursuing your dreams than you likely realize. To make sure you’re recognizing what you have, ask yourself:
- What are my assets? Look at your God-given SHAPE (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences). Take stock of your physical, financial, and educational assets.
- What have I learned? Remind yourself of all the lessons you’ve learned over the last year—in your family, in your ministry, about God, and in other areas of your life. Don’t waste those lessons.
- Who could help me? Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans go wrong with too few counselors; many counselors bring success” (TLB). Too often, people fail to achieve their dreams because they’re too proud to look to others for help. You may need to recruit a personal brain trust of advisers to help you reach your dream.
Act in faith.
God isn’t moved by our complaints. He is moved by our faith. Jesus said in Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith let it be done to you” (NIV). You know you’re acting in faith when you’re attempting to do something that can’t be done in your own power.
Goal-setting is a step of faith because you’re saying, “God, with your help, I’m expecting to accomplish this task by this date.” God honors faith like that. Most people never set goals—particularly big ones—because they fear failure.
So, ask yourself, “What goals will I set for myself in faith this upcoming year?”
Refocus your mind.
For a fresh start in fulfilling God’s dream for your ministry, you need to change how you think. Ephesians 4:23 says, “Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind” (AMPC). A renewed mind means you have fresh thoughts and a fresh attitude. The only way you get that refreshment is through listening to and reading God’s Word.
You don’t have to believe everything you think. You can actually decide what you choose to believe. The Bible says, “Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life” (Proverbs 4:23 CEV). Replace any thought that doesn’t agree with the Bible with God’s truth.
Trust that God knows what he is doing.
You often can’t see what God is doing in your life when he’s at work behind the scenes. Even if you could see God at work, you likely wouldn’t understand everything he’s doing. But you can know that God has your best interests in mind. He is always doing good. You can trust him.
So, where do you begin when God’s vision for your life needs a fresh start?
Start with King David’s prayer in Psalm 51:10:
“God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life” (The Message).
It’s a prayer God loves to answer.