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On New Year's Day of 2010, I began a new practice that I'm continuing next year. I had read John Eldridge's New Year's Eve post about his annual practice of asking God for a theme for the coming year. Last year, I heard God say the word more. Since 2009 had been a very difficult year, that word really scared me at first. I did not think I could take more of the same. But then I heard God complete the theme: more Jesus. See my 2010 New Year's Day blog here to read more.

The past year has still been a tough year. It wasn't more of the same from 2009, but there were definitely lots of challenges. I got through 2010 because of God's fulfilled promise of more Jesus.

I spent more time with Jesus on a regular basis this past year, and those times have been rich and rewarding. But more than just time spent with him, I have sensed more of his presence and power in my life than ever. Like monster truck rallies, I felt MORE POWER! I'm hoping for even more of that in 2011.

Over the last several weeks, I've been asking God for a theme word or phrase for next year. What I believe I'm hearing is relationships. This is a key word for me right now. I desire for God to strengthen my relationships on every level:

  1. Continue to grow in my relationship with my Father. That's where it all starts! If I have a strong relationship with him, I believe he will strengthen my other relationships as well (see Matthew 6:33).
  2. Continue growing in my relationship with my wife, Heidi. Next to my Father, this is my most vital relationship. I still have a lot to learn here!
  3. Continue to invest into my relationship with my kids, Jordan, Dru, Sarah, and Annie. I want to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to me, and, next to Heidi, they are the best gifts and responsibilities he has given me.
  4. Invest into my relationships with our small group leadership team and leaders. I tend towards the task-oriented/achiever side of leadership. Like many other small group pastors I know, I love vision and implementing it through strategies. (Alan Danielson wrote a great six-part series of blogs titled "The Problem with Small Group Pastors." Start here to read this series. See his Triple-Threat Leadership graphic here.) I desire to be a more relational leader, and it takes effort and Christ's power to move in that direction. This year, I'm going to be very intentional about this.

I believe I needed more Jesus before I could successfully strengthen and build my relationships. God is at work, and I can't wait to see what he does in 2011.

How about you? What theme is God giving you for 2011?

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