A new year - a new start. New Year's Resolutions are all very well but they tend not to last. However, we worship a God of new starts and of fresh beginnings so now might be the time to apply some fresh thinking to your ministry at the start of 2018.
Here are some key areas to help you think things through. Even if you think you've got these under control, it's valuable to revisit them and see if there are any adjustments or improvements you can make. And if you've been putting off thinking about them, now's the time to make a start:
1. Planning: what are your goals or aims for the coming year? Think big and ask yourself what is your overall objective for the next five years. What steps might you need to take to achieve it? Capture your thoughts in whatever way suits your style - the important thing is to revisit these plans regularly so you can hold yourself to account. Better still, involve a group of people in your planning so they can hold you to account.
2. Finance: do you know your income from your outgoings? Got a budget in place? Even if you're a seasoned budgeter maybe it's time for a review or if you're new to it, why not give it a go! There are a number of easy online ways to create a budget (the Money Course have a simple one). If you want to delve even deeper, Stewardship offer a specialist budgeting tool tailor-made for Christian Workers - contact email@example.com for more details.
The principles of Joseph's wise stewardship in Genesis 41: 46-49 still apply today. It's sensible to set aside money in the form of savings in order to meet needs which will come around eventually. For example, is your car vital for your ministry? Put aside a regular amount of money to replace it eventually. Think too about keeping a sum of money aside for genuine emergencies.
Consider using a tax adviser to ensure that you're not paying more tax than you might need to. See www.christianfinancialadvisers.org.uk for individual listings.
3. Support: have you got a strategy for maintaining and growing your support team? If you live on personal support, Myles Wilson, author of Funding the Family Business suggests that you should aim to spend around 10% of your working time on an ongoing basis to relating to your supporter team. Does that surprise you? If it does, you may want to read further on this or consider attending one of Stewardship's training days for those raising and living on support.
4. Health: do you really spend enough time on fitness and healthy living? If not, why not start by making one change for the better? Try something simple like walking more. The benefits extend further than just a healthy body. And if you find yourself struggling with mental health, there are plenty of charities, such as SANE or Mind, offering helpline advice or access to information and support. Regular rest and holidays are vital when it comes to maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle which is why most employers would consider an employee who hasn't taken a holiday for a while to be a risk.
5. Retirement: when was the last time you gave this more than a fleeting thought? Ignoring it won't make it go away, so take time to read Stewardship's paper on retirement and make sure you have a plan in place to fund your retirement. For background on pensions see: www.moneysavingexpert.com/savings/discount-pensions. To find out how much State Pension you could get (this amount is also known as your State Pension forecast) go to www.gov.uk/check-state-pension. If you've been living abroad or have gaps in your National Insurance record for other reasons you can check on your options by going to www.gov.uk/voluntary-national-insurance-contributions
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list and you may have other ideas to add to the mix. However you decide to approach it, give it a bit of time and prayer (and probably put the kettle on).