"I am about to do a new thing"
(Isa. 43:19, NRSV
When I was a kid, we sang a folk tune that went something like this:
"Once was a man named Michael Finnigan
"He had whiskers on his chinigan
"Pulled them out and they grew in again
"Poor Michael Finnigan had to begin again."
I often find myself singing this ditty when I am facing an overwhelming job or a task that seems daunting to the point of exhaustion. We've all been there in ministry. Tasks are completed, and then two more spring up. Needs are met, but then three more needs present themselves. We get our desks cleared on a Friday afternoon only to discover the desk is full again on Monday morning. Begin again. Start over.
We are always beginning again, it seems; but new beginnings also offer us the opportunity to lay the old aside. We can place a great many things in the out box; or as one of my friends likes to remind me: "We should all have a 'stop doing' list." There are habits, tendencies, ideas and formulas for ministry that we all use; and some of these aren't working. We should stop doing them. Beginning again with a new path should help. A new method can yield new results.
Some new beginnings in ministry don't have to be difficult or painful. In most aspects of our lives, for example, we readily embrace new things. We even crave them. No one, for example, would frequent an ice cream shop that only sold vanilla without any toppings. We crave a variety of flavors—new ones. No one would visit a car dealership that only sold one make, model and color of automobile. No one would enjoy landscaping a home with only one type of tree, shrub or blooming flower.
Rather, the world around us is filled with diversity and a plethora of options.
The same is true for ministry. There are many ways we can go about an effective ministry with teenagers. We don't have to get stuck in a rut and stay there. Even in familiar places and among familiar faces, we can try new approaches and dream new dreams.
Consider the year before you. What new dreams can you dream? What new ministry should you begin? What can you begin again?