January 4, 2017

What Do You Need To Let Go Of?

Management guru Peter Drucker wrote often about “planned abandonment.” This is the idea that we need to intentionally put to death and bury the activities and thinking that are hindering us from spending time on more fruitful activities. We must put to death the old to make room for the new.

I spend time each year between Christmas and New Year’s Day reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the next. In my previous career, it was looking at my previous billable hours and workplace accomplishments, and setting goals for the coming year. But it was/is also a time to celebrate what God has been doing in my life and work and ministry, and considering where God seems to be leading me into the future.

I ask questions like, “What worked this past year and needs to continue to be developed this coming year?” and “What didn’t work and needs to be abandoned?” or “Where have I been a good steward and seen fruitfulness?” and “Where have I been slothful and unproductive?” My focus is often on change.

If you are like me, your year-end assessment is biased to your activities and how you spend time – what you’ve done (or not done) and how fruitful you’ve been. However, it’s harder to reflect on and assess the specific ways in which our minds need to be renewed. In Romans 12:2, Paul says, "Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I’m challenged by this reminder that it’s the renewing of our thinking— the context and standard that shapes our thoughts— that gives us the context for testing (and discerning) what we should and should not do. In other words, if my thinking is unhealthy, my activities likely will be unhealthy. If I want healthy, fruitful activities and results, I need to start with healthy thinking. This requires a continual renewal of the mind.

A particularly ornery and divisive year of politics and social issues that have divided many people (including Christians) has finally come to an end. We have a choice to make as we look ahead to 2017. Will we allow our minds to be renewed and refreshed as we start this new year? Will we build on the things that unite us and serve God together?

As you reflect on the stewardship of your time in 2016 and plan for 2017, I encourage you to join me in spending time praying for God to reveal how our minds need to be renewed. What old ways of thinking do we need to let go of - what old things need to die - so that we can more clearly hear and discern where God would have us act?