Setting Your Intention


By Emily Robbins

The end of the year is such a great time to reflect over the past year and look at your growth and experiences; to notice your successes and failures both as an individual and in your ministries. It is also a fantastic time to name some intentions for the year to come. 2017 is right around the corner!

What do you hope to accomplish?

Where do you need to grow?

Where do you need to give yourself permission to take care of yourself?

I have had a practice of prayerfully choosing a theme for each year in my youth ministry. Over the years our themes have been “mystery,” “beloved,” “hope,” “notice,” “Sabbath,” and many more! Sometimes I had one scripture connected to the theme and sometimes there would be many scriptures that we would use for different events that connected to the theme. Much of what we planned for the year connected back to our theme. It was an incredible practice and I love to see my youth grab hold of that theme and see it come to life in their lives.

Have any of you ever done that within your ministry?

But…while being so intentional within my ministry, what was often missing was that I was not being quite as intentional in my own life. I was not living up to my potential in quite the same way. As many of you have probably experienced: It is easy to put your own needs, hopes, families and expectations to the side for ministry. It might even feel selfish to want to focus on your own growth or family instead of our ministry. We’ve been told we need to have balance between work and family. Work and adventure. Work and spiritual growth. I mean, sometimes in youth ministry I get to have all of those at the same time – right? But our youth ministry is still work. Where do you take care of you?

I have tried to be so good at taking care of myself but I find myself falling short again and again. But recently I read this quote by Richard Rohr, “Your True Self is who you are, and always have been in God; and at its core, it is love itself. Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming.” It’s who God made us to be. And who you are still becoming. Every year we get multiple chances to grow and change. To move closer to love. Thank goodness. I get to try again.

I would invite you to prayerfully try a practice this year to recognize your dreams and intentions for yourself in 2017. Not goals but practices. Goals (and resolutions!) can tend to set us up to fail. Practices and intentions help us to line up with “who you are still becoming.” This would be a cool practice to do with your youth sometime in the next month as well. START WITH YOURSELF FIRST!

  1. Set some time aside to pray and dream about 2017.
  2. Have a blank piece of paper in front of you with markers & images (if you draw/doodle/dreamboard) or a pencil if you prefer to use words.
  3. Prayerfully ask God to show you areas of your life where you need growth, healing or inspiration. Think about what brings you passion and gives you energy!
  4. Spend about 10 minutes in silence listening. Need to go on a walk while doing this – do it.
  5. Come back to the piece of paper and write or draw everything you think of. Don’t censor your thoughts. There is no wrong answer.
  6. After looking over your responses, take some time to see if a theme shows up. Choose a word or phrase that sums up your intentions for the year.
  7. Put your word(s) or phrase in a place where you can see it every day. Let this word be your prayer every single day in the next year.
  8. Now go and do it!

I pray that all of us experience 2017 as a year of love and growth!