At the beginning of the new year, you eagerly set goals to reach forward for Christ in multiple areas. Both through your goals and the early action steps you have taken, you stretched forward.
But now it is four weeks into the new year. What are the underlying decisions you need to make to sustain that momentum?
A very visual answer to this question is found in Psalm 18—David’s psalm of praise as he looks back over his life:
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.—Psalm 18:32–33
The hind is a female deer, known for her swiftness and agility. When she runs, she reaches forward with her front legs, and then brings her rear legs up between them and repeats the process. This is a picture of how God desires to enable our forward momentum for Him.
Early in our Christian walk, we eagerly press forward for the Lord. Like the deer reaching forward with her front legs, we make great strides toward growth.
These early steps of growth are energizing and exciting. (And, as spiritual leaders, they’re fun to watch others make as well.)
But as we grow in the Lord, sometimes the steps of growth aren’t as noticeable. Sometimes the next steps, rather than obviously reaching into new territories, are more like the deer brining her rear legs up—they serve to reinforce our progress and to commit us to forward momentum.
So what are the “hinds’ feet” reinforcement steps, the forward momentum, that will carry you onward through the new year?
Here are three:
1. Move Forward in Your Spirit
It’s not just what you do, but why you do it, that sustains ongoing labor for the Lord.
Throughout Psalm 18, we see David’s spirit focused on God in love, faith, gratitude, and joy.
I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower….He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me….As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.—Psalm 18:1–2, 16–17, 30
It’s all too easy to get stuck in a spiritual rut of going through outward motions, even while our spirits are diminishing.
To sustain forward momentum for the Lord, we must grow in our spirit.
This renewal and growth comes through our daily walk with the Lord and our renewal in His Word.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.—2 Corinthians 4:16
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:—Colossians 3:10
2. Move Forward in Your Stand
David had a lot of ups and downs in his life. Over the years, he had times of great prosperity and times of great adversity. But when he looked back over the years, he was able to say that he had not changed in his spiritual convictions.
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.—Psalm 18:20–21
It’s useless to set goals for spiritual outcomes if we neglect the spiritual foundations for even attempting those goals.
For instance, why set goals for reaching people with the gospel if we lose our biblical convictions of salvation through Jesus alone?
If you want to sustain forward momentum for Christ over a lifetime, don’t lessen up or change your convictions.
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;—Philippians 1:27
3. Move Forward in Your Stewardship
Sometimes we make moving forward for the Lord more about us than about Christ. Sometimes it is about gratifying our desires to grow (whether that be personally or in ministry) rather than about giving our all to glorify God.
David’s heart was God’s glory, not his own.
The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.—Psalm 18:46
If we want God to be exalted through us, we must live as open-handed stewards, recognizing His ownership in every area of our lives.
A Forward-Moving Church
These three commitments for forward momentum are not only true for individual Christians. They are true for churches as well.
A church can have every desire in the world to reach people with the gospel, and it can even set goals to do so.
But these steps forward will not consistently cover new ground for Christ without the reinforcement commitments of individual members to move forward in their spirit, stand, and stewardship.
So yes, reach forward for Christ. Set goals. Look forward with Spirit-filled ambition to make a difference for the cause of Christ. Swallow up the ground with your “front legs.”
But be sure you’re brining the hind legs forward with the underlying reenforcement to sustain momentum.
Grow in your spirit.
Become more grounded in your stand.
Remain committed in your stewardship.