So often this time of year we hear a phrase that goes something like this: “I hope this next year is better that the last.” This is certainly apropos for many after the year we just went through. I’ve heard it said that “you are what you measure,” and by almost any measure, most would say this last year, 2020, was not good. But how does one measure the “goodness” of a year?
Like Wall Street often does, you can measure by size. Did your bottom line increase? Do the numbers look good for your organization? For us, it is often based on the number of students we touched or brought to Christ or the number of hours we prayed or something like that. In a related way, you can measure your “goodness” by efficiency. Did you improve the yield in the number based on the resources you had to put into it? It’s hard to say this was a good year based on these measures.
Some measure by the more subjective notion of “quality.” Did the quality of your services improve? For what we do, are the people you discipled this year more ready to affect the Kingdom than in years past? Or because of the time you spent with them, are they better people because of what you did this year? A few might look at things more personally. “Did I grow or learn some things this year that will be valuable for the future or for someone else?” or “Am I a better person because of what I experienced this year?” Hopefully, many of us would say in this measure that this year was painfully good.
For those of us thinking more spiritually about this question, we might measure the “goodness” of a year in how we progressed in our relationship with God. “Do I know Him better?” “Have I grown in the disciplines and personal knowledge of the Lord in the past year?” “Am I closer and more aligned to Him?” Honestly, if this were the measure, what is recorded in the book of Job could be described as the best time period of Job’s life.
All these are good measures and there are many more legitimate family, personal, ministry, work, and life-related ones that you can use to measure the “goodness” of a year. For most of us, we have a balanced, weighted scale that we use.
Perhaps one good measure of the success of a timeframe or year is one that Jesus describes in John 6:38 (NIV): “For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Of course for Jesus, the will of the Father was for Jesus to BE the Gospel of the Kingdom. Everything He did was related to that. He lived the Good News of the Kingdom. He spoke the good news of the Kingdom, and He died on the cross as the means for us to also receive and for Him to inaugurate the Good News of the Kingdom. At the end of His life, He reminded us to abide in Him…to live in the same way as ready servants who daily, dependently, and obediently live and experience the Good News of the Kingdom.
C.S. Lewis reminds us, “It is not your business to succeed (no one can be sure of that), but to do right. When you have done so, the rest lies with God.” I would argue that “doing right” is abiding by the Spirit in Jesus. That is how we know we had a good year.
May you have a prosperous, happy, and GOOD 2021!