2019 was a tough year for our family. Another of our fathers died unexpectedly (my father-in-law passed late in 2018), and two of our family groups were uprooted as a result. My family was one of those. We’ve been living in a basement now for almost 6 months, and I’m without a church to pastor.
But if we had it to do over again, I wouldn’t change much at all.
When my brother-in-law died back in June, we saw the need for me to serve as a father-figure to my nephews. But I was pastoring in another city. So when I looked at my job as a pastor and the needs of my family, I realized this: many people can pastor a church, but I was the only one who could step in for the gap in my family.
I’m sure some people thought what I did was a little extreme. I believe some of my former church members still don’t understand it. I’m sure some people thought there were other cryptic reasons for our resignation and move I didn’t want to share.
But the hard truth was God had been preparing me for this moment for a while. He’d been showing me how many of the things I’d sacrificed for–job, career, security–were of little to no value. I began to be reminded that the truly important things are those you can rarely purchase, put in a bank, or impress your friends with.
Here’s a list of some things I’ve learned this year. I post them for you to consider as potential resolutions in this new year of 2020. But remember, even if you do not choose, you will have already made a choice. Inaction will spark its own outcome, but proactive steps of action can truly be life-changing.
My 2020 resolutions:
Other than God himself, put people first. Relationships are all that will last. And they don’t last forever, so take advantage of every moment together.
Surprise, you’re going to die. So stop being limited by your fears and live to the fullest. You won’t get another chance.
More than just family, you need friends. Sacrifice everything short of family to live near your friends.
When money’s your goal, it eventually destroys everything else of true value. So stop evaluating life based upon how much of it you’ve collected.
Your pursuit of happiness is the best guarantee you’ll never find it. Stop going for the big wins and cherish the small victories each day can hold.
Nobody cares how wonderful you are. So stop living to empress anyone but God.
You can’t fix the past. So say your apologies and move on, quickly. Time is running out.
Never pass up an opportunity to encourage someone. Because EVERYONE needs encouragement, most all the time.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not them, you don’t truly know them, and they probably couldn’t handle your journey anyway.
Live like God is watching, because he is. Life is a gift, and you’ll be called to account for how you used it. So stop messing around and make it count!
Dave Gipson is a husband, father of 4 adopted children and one biological child, former foster parent, and pastor at Naples Family Church of Naples, FL. An author, Dave's new highly acclaimed book, "The Seven Surprises: Everyday Epiphanies on Being a Better Human Being," is now available. He also contributes regular commentaries to the Naples Daily News as well as other international publications. He has served churches for the last 25+ years, from Florida to the inner-city of Chicago. Rev. Gipson holds his ordination in the Southern Baptist denomination, and has two earned Masters degrees in Religion and Divinity. Read more at http://davegipson.net.Follow him on Twitter at @realdavegipson.