A new way in a New Year

By Gary E. Mueller
Dear Ones, It’s a New Year—which means you are filled with new hopes and dreams or, at the very least, with hopes and dreams that things will get better. I’ve recently noticed something about myself. I’m not just hoping and dreaming about the results I want to see in the Arkansas Conference (even though I know you know that I do want to see certain kinds of results!). I’m focusing increasingly on how I can get more serious about going “all in” to be the kind of disciple of Jesus Christ who makes other disciples who are serious about letting God use them to transform lives, communities and the world with passion and excellence. This is a significant change for me because it doesn’t begin with what I think the outcomes of our work should be. Rather, it begins with God beginning with me, so I can contribute faithfully to God’s outcomes. It also has powerful implications for the mission plan I’ve developed as part of our trajectory, addressing what I believe the Annual Conference, laity, pastors and congregations need to do next. I’m grateful that I’ve received enough positive feedback to reach the conclusion that most laity in pews and pastors in pulpits support the direction this plan is taking us. The question, however, is how we’ll get there. By “structuring” them into existence? No. By “planning” them into existence? No. By “accountabilizing” them into existence? No. We’ll get there by starting with heart work. Or, more to the point, with all of us getting truly serious about God, starting with our hearts. There are no best practices we can employ, programs we can implement or workshops we can attend to do this. There’s only the serious work of opening our hearts, minds, spirits and lives to God. Laying ourselves bare. Walking through some dark nights of the soul. Praying like we’ve never prayed before. Going deeper with God than we ever thought possible. And following Jesus one step at a time as his disciples. This new work is the heart and soul of the revival we need. It’s why revival is “#1” in my mission plan for the people called United Methodists in Arkansas. And it’s why I want to share a simple prayer with you that I hope you will join me in praying every day this New Year. God, You are sharing grace that is amazing. Help me give myself to Your love every breath I take. Jesus, You are reaching out to the real me in my real life. Enable me to follow as Your disciple every step I take. Holy Spirit, You are transforming me from the inside out. Empower me to rely on You with everything that is within me. May you experience God’s richest blessings to overflowing in this New Year, and experience great joy as you share them with those around you who need to experience the Good News of Jesus Christ. Grace and peace, Gary E. Mueller