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The Swindon-based church leader Rev Joel Sales reflects on what God has been teaching him
I recently heard a brilliant podcast where a pastor, Gordan MacDonald talked through 15 things he sees at 80 years old.
I turned 35 this year; halfway to my three score years and ten and I’ve been reflecting on what my 15 might be at the moment. So here are a few things I’m learning the importance of and a number of things I’d love to do better or at least more consistently. I wrote this list for me, but I hope it’s helpful for you too.
1. Run after Jesus
Following Jesus isn’t accidental, it’s a daily choice. Choose to live everyday like Jesus is everything. Intentionally invite the Holy Spirit in. Make appointments with God and keep them. Treat the Bible like it really is a light to guide the way. Chase God.
2. You can always choose your response
Life is a gift. Don’t be miserable, entitled and offended today. You’ve been shown amazing grace; be gracious.
3. Be you, intentionally
Don’t compare yourself to others, either positively or negatively. It’s a rubbish way to live and generally steals your joy. Celebrate the success of others, even be inspired. But be you ‘in Christ.’ What do you bring to the world? What makes you come alive? What has God made you to do? Make space to do that every day.
4. Put your stupid phone down (unless you’re calling someone!)
Phones can do wonderful things, but they can also rob your rest, your peace, your time, and prevent you from being fully present with people (or with God).
5. Cultivate great friendships
Friendships (and marriages) need work and investment. They are worth it. Good friends beat popularity every time. Make the call, put things in the diary, do whatever it takes to cultivate great friendships.
6. People are hurting, lonely and scared
7. You cannot please everyone
Stay teachable. Listen, learn, and grow. But recognise that you’re probably going to upset someone; decide who you don’t want to upset.
8. Discern vision with God, then run after it with everything
God has wisdom and vision for every part of your life, your work, your ministry. Talk to him, then go for it together. Sacrifice comfort for calling.
9. Disappointment, pain and heartache come to everyone (this side of heaven)
But no day is 100% bad and God is in the business of redemption. Every good story has ups and downs.
10. Keep learning
Read books, attend conferences and courses, seek out wisdom and critique from good people – people who think like you and people who don’t. God speaks through donkeys if you listen.
11. Treat people like they’re amazing (they are)
Go out of your way to encourage someone today. It will change their day, maybe their life, and it costs nothing.
God rested so we definitely need to. Be serious about Sabbath, book holidays if you’re able. Trust God enough to pause. It doesn’t all depend on you, and you’ll bring so much more when you’re rested.
13. Take risks
Faith grows when you take risks. Listen to what God’s saying and do that. Don’t let fear rob you of life in all it’s fullness.
14. Don’t forget to worship
It’s what you were made for. You never graduate. Worship changes you, your perspective, your level of faith, and the outcome.
15. Fun matters
Rev Joel Sales is the leader of Pattern Church in Swindon. He blogs at joelsales.co.uk, where this article was first published
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