I hope your new year is off to a great start!
I know the month is moving quickly, but I want to encourage you one more time about how to make 2017 your best year ever. I don’t know what your 2016 was like, but mine was like the best of times and the worst of times—just like life often is.
We had so many opportunities to see people saved and delivered. We experienced amazing breakthroughs in ministry with A21 and Propel. We got to visit so many cities and spend time with our Propel Chapter members, and our A21 walks were off the charts in more cities than ever before. Thank you!
And yet, in the midst of our growth, like any family, we dealt with unexpected events, like the loss of my mom and sister-in-law.
Just like you, we always put our trust in God, no matter what is happening. I know that not one day, not one moment did I go without the power, presence, love and grace of Jesus with me—and he’s with you.
In every storm and heartache, he carried me, especially when I couldn’t carry myself—and he does the same for you.
God loves you. God is good, God does good, and God is always working all things for our good—even through all the unexpected events (Romans 8:28). He doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he’s always there leading us, working in the midst of them for our good. He always has a plan, purpose and destiny for our lives regardless of what we see going on (Jeremiah 29:11).
As I’ve prayed for you, I believe for 2017 to be a year full of hope and expectation in which the leading of the Lord in your life will be incredible. God has given me ten directives to share with you. He wants us to drop what we don’t need to be doing, so we can pick up what he wants us to be doing.
1. Stop doing things that aren’t working so you can start doing some things that are working.
I know this sounds so basic, but it’s amazing how long we will continue to do the same old thing expecting a different result—and it’s not going to happen. Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean that’s the way you need to continue doing it. Maybe it’s something you’ve connected to—like the pain from abuse—and it’s time to put it down and let it go. Maybe it’s how you’re balancing your family life or how your running your office. I continually evaluate our leadership of A21 and Propel, along with my team, to see what is working and what is not. And what is not, we have to let go.
2. Stop investing in relationships that are taking you nowhere so that you can start building relationships that will take you somewhere.
It’s amazing how many friends and acquaintances we have in our lives that really just drain us. It’s time lean away from the people who might have been good for you in the last season, but they are not good for you in this season. You may love them dearly, but they are no longer good for you. God wants you building your inner circle with people who can help you get to where you’re going—who can help make a difference in your life.
3. Stop trying to change other people, and just let the Holy Spirit change you.
In my 50 years of living, I can tell you, no one can change anyone but God. Changing people is the Holy Spirit’s job, not yours. You are simply not that strong. If you will drop this, you will sleep much better and have a whole lot more peace in your life.
4. Stop trying to please everybody, and start just trying to please God.
The truth is you are never going to please everybody—not even some of the time. So set yourself free. If I tried to please everyone with what I post on social media or write in my books, I would be a man-pleaser and not a God-pleaser. I certainly don’t want to offend or hurt people, ever. I love people, but I can’t please everybody—and neither can you. Drop it and let it go.
5. Stop looking for the path of least resistance, and start embracing the challenging path of going to where you want to go.
You’re not going to build the spiritual muscle, the tenacity, that you need to end up where you’re going, if you take the path of least resistance. We’ve grown accustomed to having an app do the work for us in so many areas. But there are no apps for building character or tenacity. We have to do the hard work of crucifying our flesh, obeying Jesus, and going the distance in our race.
John Maxwell says everything worthwhile in this life is uphill. He’s right. By choosing to be all that God has created and called me to be, I’m choosing the challenging path and daring adventure of where he wants me to go—even if it’s uphill.
6. Stop procrastinating, and start doing what you need to do.
Just because you’ve decided to do something doesn’t mean you’ve done it. Too many women make New Year’s resolutions and a year later haven’t accomplished any of them. Don’t be that woman. Don’t put off what you can do today for tomorrow. Don’t say, “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow. I’ll eat healthy tomorrow. I’ll start reading my Bible tomorrow. I’ll start being nice tomorrow.” It’s not good when that becomes the story of our lives.
I have wanted to get my master’s degree for years, and I have decided to go for it in 2017. No more putting it off until tomorrow. Whatever it is you need to do—apologize to someone, get a relationship right, address inner issues in your heart—stop procrastinating. Do it today.
7. Stop expecting people to be Jesus, and let Jesus be Jesus.
A lot of the conflicts in our marriages and friendships could be eliminated if we quit expecting from others what we can only get from God. I get up early so I can get from Jesus what I need from Jesus—and so I won’t unintentionally try to get it from my family or pastors or team.
When we let people off the hook, when we quit expecting them to be Jesus in our lives, then we quit being a victim and start taking responsibility for ourselves. That’s when we make Jesus bigger than anything anyone has done to us in our past. That’s when we get free.
8. Stop blaming everything and everyone else for where you are in life, and start making what Jesus did for you bigger than what anyone has ever done to you.
Maybe you’ve had a past like mine where there’s been pain and abuse. It wasn’t our fault. We didn’t ask for it. But we can’t live our lives as victims. I’ve made what Jesus did for me bigger than what anyone did to me. I’ve made what Jesus said to me bigger than what anyone else has said to me.
This is your year to drop the baggage. Get my book,Unashamed, and learn how to walk free from all that you’ve been through. God has used this book more than any other I’ve written to help people find freedom.
9. Stop being so hard on yourself, and start loving yourself.
Jesus took all the commandments and summarized them into the two most important points: Love your neighbor and love yourself. When you don’t like yourself, you tend to not like others. When you’re hard on yourself, you tend to be hard on others.
So give yourself forgiveness, grace, mercy, genuine love and kindness. Start with discovering and loving who you are in Christ. Learn to truly love yourself so you can genuinely love others.
10. Stop doubting and start believing for the best.
Perhaps from your perspective—and certainly from so many who’ve posted on social media—you think everything that happened in 2016 was a mess—from the political process to the social unrest to the tragedies around the world. And it has stirred up insecurities in you, anxiety, fear and doubt. Consider this instead: Two thousand years ago, God said he would build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
Well, I’ve read the end of the book and we win. So, even if all the economies of the world are in flux, let’s keep moving forward sharing the love and grace and mercy and goodness of God with everyone we encounter.
Let’s stay focused on the truth: The government rests on Jesus’ shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). All things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26). He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9). We are on top and not on the bottom (Deuteronomy 28:13). We are women of God, women of prayer, women of faith.
So let’s stop doubting and start believing for the best. We’re entering 2017 on the winning side!