Well, friends, here we are, flipping another page on the calendar to find ourselves starting another trip around the sun together on our little pale blue dot.
I know a lot of us are trying to start new chapters, write on blank pages, un-do old habits, start new ones, and all of those typical things we lump into the broad category of New Year’s Resolutions.
Because I have a long, storied history of failing to keep such lofty promises to myself, and because I’m old enough to realize that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results, my only resolution this year is not to make any resolutions.
Instead, this year I want to make revolutions.
A radical reorientation
Rather than dreaming about altering behaviors, I want this to be the year of turning dreaming into doing. Not of changing habits, but habituating change.
Admittedly, I got a bit of a head start in 2019 when I decided to pursue a longtime dream of creating new faith communities for people who have lost trust in the institutional church. This blog and the new Accidental Tomatoes website and podcast are a part of bringing that dream to reality.
For me, that’s nothing short of a revolution because it marks a radical reorientation of my vocational focus.
And that’s what a revolution is, isn’t it? A radical reorientation. A shift in how we arrange our lives.
So here are some other New Year’s Revolutions I want to be part of in 2020:
1) Speak out less, speak up more.
It’s one thing to spout opinions about issues. But merely voicing opinions rarely changes anything. Speaking out might make us feel better for a moment to get something off our chests, but it does little to influence the world around us.
Speaking up, on the other hand, means standing for something. It means putting skin in the game. It means becoming vulnerable in order to help others in vulnerable positions.
2) Ministry with vs. ministry to.
Those of us in professional ministry often see ourselves as leaders whose job is to cast and execute a vision for others to follow, and then direct them in the way they follow it. We see ourselves as ministers to that group of people.
But if I want to be part of something that brings about substantive change for good in the world, I can’t just be a conductor or puppet master. I need to be in the midst of it. I need to learn from the people in my ministry setting as much or more than they learn from me.
We need to go through it together, side-by-side, hand-in-hand, collaboratively drawing from one another’s strengths and supporting one another’s weaknesses, embracing more of a team dynamic than a leader-follower paradigm.
3) Question everything.
Okay, this is not so much a new thing. As someone who’s been through at least two phases of spiritual deconstruction and still finds myself somewhere on the continuum of reconstruction, questioning things has become pretty much second nature.
But in the contentious political and ideological environment in which we find ourselves, it’s even more important to be even more discerning. It’s both tempting and easy to fall into simple categories of agreement or disagreement. Of looking for pithy platitudes instead of doing the hard work of digging into the nuance and complexity of the issues we face.
4) Listen more.
Yes, this one might sound more like a resolution than a revolution. But I think all of us could use a little more revolutionary listening in our lives.
We all know that person who makes every conversation about themselves, that only hears what others are saying in order to turn it into an “I remember that time when I…” story. I have to confess that I’ve been that person myself more often than I’d like to admit.
But listening well more often means responding with silence. Or maybe just with presence. It usually leads to more questions than unsolicited advice.
5) Love radically.
The internet has shown us all pretty plainly how easy it is to love people who line up with our beliefs. But real, authentic love will almost always cost us something.
Revolutionary love recognizes that, at the very least, our pride has to take a back seat to someone else’s wellbeing.
That doesn’t mean we roll over in the face of injustice and give a pass to its perpetrators (see #1 above). But it does mean that our response can’t further the injustice by simply turning it on someone else.
What about you?
Let’s all do something revolutionary this year to make the world a safer, more just, more compassionate place for everyone!