by Dr. Tony L Lynn
PLYMOUTH, MI – Set some giant goals only to fail? I have too! Make you mad? Make you sad? Make you stop reaching for bigger and better? Would you spend 3-minutes with me to see if we can become more for the Lord? To see if we can do more in service and in worship for the Lord? Big achievements begin with baby steps.
During December a professor tweeted these words to encourage his PhD students: “If you read 20 pages of research material and write 200 quality footnoted words each day, you will complete your dissertation in about one year.” Did you capture the baby steps that could lead to a big achievement like a PhD? I did. Reading 20 pages and writing 200 words per day could lead to a PhD! I can hear you saying, “Sign me up,” right now. By the way, if you read the title of this column and read to the end of this paragraph you read the 175 words I typed. See, baby steps are easy.
As we begin a new year, let me encourage you to change the pattern of 2022 with baby steps so that you will not be saddened, disappointed, frustrated, or beaten when 2023 arrives. Each one of us hopes for more from our personal and community life and all it takes are baby steps.
Read the Best Book
In Europe where we lived for 7 years, many Christian communities would read, non-stop, the entire Bible aloud in the city square during a period of 3 days and nights in local languages to highlight the importance of the Bible. We saw conversions and inquiries as an army of volunteers read for 20-minute portions. Looking at that from a personal, baby step perspective you could read the entire Bible in 1 year if you read 3 chapters per day or if you read the Bible, from cover to cover, for just 12-minutes per day.
Have Conversations with God
Ask yourself what topic of conversations lasts the longest in your typical day? All of us want to respond with, “My daily prayers with God, of course!” But if we are honest, we cannot say that. We would reply with sports, hobbies, gossip, irritating people, TV shows, celebrities, past events, upcoming plans, or talking about ourselves. Am I correct? How can we make a daily conversation with God more important? You will have to create your plan. Here is my plan.
I am going to recite Galatians 5:22 (NLT) as my diagnostic tool for my life before my daily quiet time, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Then I am going to remind myself that God, like a mother holding the hands of a toddler above his head while he takes his first baby steps, wants me to succeed as it says in 2 Peter 1:3, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” Then here is how I have designated the topics of prayer for me during 2022.
Monday – ministry partners who need God’s protection just as I need him
Tuesday – troubles/trials that I want to face with the Holy Spirit’s control
Wednesday – weaknesses in my life to be replaced with God’s grace and strength
Thursday – thoughts that turn into messages and writings that elevate Jesus Christ
Friday – fun time rejoicing over God’s goodness and blessings in my life
Saturday – salvation of the specific lost people with whom I share life
Sunday – surrender all of myself to the Lord through worship
Share Life with People
Barring any radical life change, during 2022, all of us will receive 52 weeks or 365 days or 8,760 hours to spend. Are we going to spend that time in mindless, useless ways or are we going to share life with others so that Jesus Christ is elevated through our relationships? Would you take a moment to answer this questionnaire?
Each week, how many people or families would you entertain in your home for a meal?
How many phone calls would you be willing to make per day to encourage someone?
Would you list 6 people in your life who need to hear how to follow Christ?
How many for a meal? Sharing a meal with others is the global way of sharing life. Could you imagine receiving 52 families into your home? All it takes is a baby step of setting aside one time per week as an entertainment night. Invite 2-3 people or 1-2 families to join you. Help others connect to others.
How many phone calls per day? One per day? Without repeating a person that would be 365 people called by you and hearing your voice ask about their wellbeing and offer them an update on your life. Do you have 365 contacts in your directory? If not, call some back or make more friends. A 15–20-minute phone call where you listen to someone talk about their life means more than you know.
Did 6 people come to your mind? What are you going to do to have that ongoing conversation, during the next 12 months, elevating the Good News of Christ in the lives of 6 people? Pick them up in your car to take them to church then to a restaurant for lunch? Or mingle those who need to know Christ with respected believers at a dinner party at your home? Or set aside a private conversation where you say to each of those 6 friends, “Because I value you so much, can I take a few minutes to explain how I started following Jesus Christ in my life? And afterwards, I would love to hear if anything like my experience has been a part of your life.” Authentic conversations filled with respect and compassion change lives.
Baby Steps Lead to Big Achievements
Do you recall at the beginning of this column I asked you to spend three-minutes reading this article? You did it! You took a baby step. I am certain your head is swirling with personal responses for your life and your community. Before moving onto the next thing in your day, would you brainstorm some baby steps for 2022 and insert those baby steps into your daily life? You just may see those big achievements taking shape before 2023 arrives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Tony L. Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.