EP 171 – LOOK BACK AND LOOK FORWARD
Welcome back Bootcampers. As we’re heading toward the new year we wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the importance of looking back (reflecting upon the past year) and then looking ahead the the new year which is approaching. We’re finding the twin disciplines of reflection and futuring extremely helpful in life, leadership and serving the local church. Our good friend, Bob Bumgarner developed a helpful sheet to guide this practice.
Here are some questions to guide this process:
- What were you attempting for Jesus in 2022?
- What progress did you make?
- What were some of the highlights or turning points?
- What will you carry over (actions steps) into the coming year?
- What challenges did you face? How did the Lord see you through?
We would love to hear from you Bootcamper! Is there something that made a difference for you? Have some wisdom to share or a question to ask? Drop us a line, voicemail-we would love to hear from you.
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JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. We are on the other side of Yuel Tide and Christmas gifts and advent wreaths and all the things, and starting to put all the Christmas stuff away and get ready for New Year’s, which is a fun time of year. We’re recording this well before Christmas, because we are super professional, but.
I’m hopeful that on the other side of Christmas we both go, man, that was a really good Christmas and great time with our family.
Bob Bickford: We’re gonna speak prophetically that Christmas was good and not ruined. But, as, our faithful, longtime boot campers know, the Bickford’s will shout out a phrase when something goes awry at Christmas, that Christmas is ruined. And hopefully we haven’t said that this year.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, so I’ve just jokingly been saying it around my children lately, anytime anything happens, but I’ve not yet told them the Bickford story, so I’m just trying to see if they catch on to me saying Christmas is ruined every once in a while, and see if it [00:01:00] becomes a thing and.
Bob Bickford: I just recommend shouting it out whenever you can. Just shout it out, just, just at some point in time. Shout it out.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. Well, I have been enjoying some good time in Arkansas with, my sisters and parents and cousins and my grandma and everything. So I’ve already gotten to see, even at the time of this recording, I’ve gotten to see a bunch of my family and have some good time and, Excited to see what comes in the new year.
Hey, early speaking to my sisters early in the new year. So a week or so after a week after this is goes live, one of my sisters Bob surprised me with a very expensive Christmas gift, uh, that I cannot reciprocate the value back to her. She bought, Tickets for me and my wife to go to LSU Bowl game, which is in Orlando this year, the Citrus Bowl sponsored by Cheezits.
hope you woke up feeling the cheesiest I woke up feeling the cheesiest coach and, uh, seeing that commercial. so me and my wife are getting to go to the Cheezit Bowl and, on January 2nd, so I’m looking forward to the new year and [00:02:00] going to Orlando with my wife and going to LSU Bowl.
Bob Bickford: Go Tigers, man. That’s exciting. who are they playing? Who do they.
JimBo Stewart: They’re playing Purdue, which was not super exciting. I mean, Purdue’s good, so it’ll be a good game. But Purdue’s qb one has already self-selected for the draft. Uh, and so he’ll be sit sitting out the game. their coach left, but they just announced that Drew Brees is on the interim assistant coaching staff now.
Bob Bickford: Whoa.
JimBo Stewart: So that’s gonna, I mean, just so that’s just exci. I don’t even know if he’ll be on the sidelines for this game. But that is exciting and interesting to, you know, especially for LSU fans. We all, most of us love the Saints and, and love Drew Brees and so that adds a little bit of excitement too, but I think it’ll be a well fought game.
and if nothing else, be a good couple days in Orlando with my wife.
Bob Bickford: That’s awesome. Well, I love Cheezits I don’t get them because they’re not organic and we don’t eat that kind of stuff in our house, so I. Eat in an airport and be hungry and buy them in the snack shop. So I will, uh, I will [00:03:00] maybe sneak some cheezits while I’m watching lsu. And by the way, you see thinking about Purdue, Purdue’s not a very exciting university to me.
Like, it just, it feels like Jimbo, a baked potato with no butter or sour cream. That’s what I think of when I hear the word Purdue. Just a baked potato. LSU . I think of,
JimBo Stewart: Well, if Perdue is like a baked potato with no butters sour cream, then LSU is like a baked potato with crawfish tufe and some Tony Saris.
Bob Bickford: There you go. And this is true, I was thinking more debt dog like a, you know, a good DA dog.
JimBo Stewart: There you go. A good dat dog. Hey, look, not only do we get to look forward to the cheese it bowl, at Citrus Bowl Cheezit sponsored citrus. for LSU in the new year. But, I think just ministry in general. It’s a really wise thing to, evaluate how the last year went and plan some goals and things for the next year.
and this doesn’t ha I mean, [00:04:00] so some, sometimes I think this is a discipline we don’t do as often or as rigorously as we should in ministry. because it’s, it’s, it’s a lot of. to do it really well, but, I think it’s important. What are your thoughts, Bob, on kind of an annual evaluation and then trying to set some plans and goals for the next year?
Bob Bickford: Men. I love it. I, I think. , it’s incredibly important to look back over the years, see what you’ve accomplished, if you’ve written down goals to to monitor your progress and then see. Where you are right now and where the Lord would have you go in the future. Like we could do that in our personal life.
We’ve that in our marriage. We could do that in at our church. there there’s so much help, that can be had in looking back and then looking forward. so I, I think it’s a regular practice. I think regrettably, Jimbo, I wish we did this in November all the time rather than December, cuz December’s so busy and so I, I know especially right.
And we’re recording this later, but the weeks that we’re in right now, just in, in a lot of what you and I are doing, we’re, we’re doing this right [00:05:00] now individually and then professionally, and I would, I would think starting this in November as a discipline would be huff, but in principle absolutely. For it.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. But, so I think what we can do today is talk through at least some good questions that you can consider, some things to think through as you look back on the last year, and then take that as an opportunity to think through. What is it that maybe God has for us in the next year? and I believe in the power of really good questions.
I think questions, can accomplish a lot and help us a lot. And so, I came across a, document that. Bob Bumgarner put together that I saw on first from a First Coast Church’s resource that has some really good questions. And then I have some other questions I think we can throw in there. And so I think, uh, if you have not started this in November and you’re just now thinking, And now how do I do this?
These would be good questions. Just sit down, take an hour or so and reflect and evaluate on your, with yourself. Or if you can set a time with some team members, some [00:06:00] and by team. I think one of the things that’s important for us to say on this podcast, cuz I think sometimes when we say team, a lot of our guys who are solo staff bivocational, listen.
Check out and they’re like, man, I don’t have a team. and this is one of the things that we always try to encourage when we talk about team. You, you should have a team that does not necessarily mean that they’re paid, uh, or even staff, but you should have. I mean, who are your deacons? Who are your elders?
Who are your leaders? Small group leaders, ministry area leaders that you could, you could sit down, you could have a meal, you could have coffee, and you could just at least. Have a conversation and take down some notes about some of these questions that’ll at least help you, get some version of an evaluation of the last year that can then inform some things you wanna work towards in the next year.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, that’s great. I, I do think that’s a good word of exportation to pull together a group of individuals that you trust that are. have a objectivity that, that have been engaged in ministry. and so if you’re thinking, if you’re [00:07:00] a, a solo replant pastor or a revitalization pastor, and bring some positive people in the room who can give you enough of a critique, but also enough encouragement if we just bring critics in the room, , we’re gonna, we might resign right there after that process, right?
See? So bring some people who can, who can have some. Objectivity, but also some perspective and insight. You don’t always want a person who’s just, yes, everything was great or everything was awful. You need that person who can, can live in the tension, but also celebrate what God has done.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So, speaking to that specifically, one of the things that, uh, Craig Hamilton talks about in his book, wisdom and Leadership when it comes to evaluation, is he says, gather group of others around a table, literal or proverbial, to help you clarify where you are. in the lay of the land, you’ll want people who have a wide perspective, a unique perspective, a particular power of insight or influence.
You’ll probably have some feel, for where here is where you’re at right now, because you’re the leader and you’re overseeing the whole, but because you’re [00:08:00] finite and fallible and possibly blinded because you are the point person, as the leader, you’ll want to invite others to the table to share their wisdom so you have a more accurate picture of here.
and this is in a chapter in wisdom of leadership, where he talks about we need to look back to where we were and we need to look to where we’re trying to go. But we also have to look at like, where are we right now? where have we gotten ourselves to? you can’t really get directions to where you’re trying to go until you know where you are.
so let’s go through just some of the questions that are, are good to ask. I think a great place to start is if you set some goals last year and if you didn’t do this officially last year and you didn’t write anything down, you probably still kind of intuitively, organically had some things in mind that you wanted to see done in 2022, you, you hoped that such and such would happen.
You really hoped you, look, I’m not saying you had to have a number attached to it or anything, but there were probably. Things that either you wrote down or you just kind of organically in conversation [00:09:00] knew you were working towards. And so look back and what were you, what were you hoping to accomplish for the glory of the Lord in 2022?
and just first see if you can write down what some of those were. And then from there you just ask, so how, like, what progress did we make? Did we get there?
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think the, the progress idea or word jumped out to me, Jimbo in the sense of. Most of us, when we set goals, we want to achieve the finish line, right? And so we’ll go through the goal setting exercise of this is our goal, and then we anticipate we’re gonna achieve it fully in the next coming year.
And sometimes you may just make some progress on that goal. And what I would say is, is celebrate the finish line. Yeah. I mean, you know, run through the tape, you know, let the balloons go, all that kind of thing. But if you’ve made progress, mean, celebrate that too. and don’t dismiss that cuz we all progress at different levels and we encounter all sorts of challenges throughout the year that cause us to not be able to [00:10:00] achieve our goals or to, to realize them fully.
But here’s what I would say, realize and celebrate your progress. If you’ve made progress, celebrate that. Note that, and then here’s the simple thing, just bring that goal forward, right? And maybe you can realize the accomplishment of it in six months or three months into the new year, rather than waiting for the entire year to go by.
So, super important word there.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I think it’s great to, not only celebrate when you completely accomplish a goal, but the progress that’s made. And I, I used to would say the old famous adage, shoot for the moon and you may get a star. And then I realize that that is horribly astronomically incorrect. Like the moon, the moon is far closer than stars are.
Bob like. Like, it doesn’t make any sense to say shoot for the moon and you may get a star cuz you can get to the moon a lot quicker. You can get to a star.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. So what would you say, like shoot for a bird and maybe you’ll get the moon? Is that what you’re thinking
now at this point?
JimBo Stewart: [00:11:00] I don’t know. I have no idea. I, I’ve not figured out a way to maybe bootcamp listeners, if you can tweet us back when we put this episode out or something, let us know what is, what is a more astronomically correct way to say that, or I wonder what the origin of that phrase, now I’m getting like off on a tra, I kind of wanna look and see like, what is the etymology of that phrase.
And maybe it was back when we didn’t understand astronomy at all, that stars are way further away than the moon.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, we probably need to move one
JimBo Stewart: So anyway, so don’t use that phrase cuz you’d be wrong. but ask questions about what were goals that you set, whether those are official or unofficial. what progress was made, not perfection, but progress. And then as you dive into the progresses that made, one of the questions I love that Bob has on this form that we’ll attach in the show notes, is.
What are the turning points and highlights like, so specifically, like where was progress made? What were the turning points in that? Whatever the goal was that you were working towards, and you made progress, what, what [00:12:00] specifically happened that helped you see progress, really turn in the right direction for that?
I think it’s a great question for evaluation.
Bob Bickford: It is because I think Jimbo, it, will tell you what actions, what conversations and what steps you took to get to the, that either that progress point or the finish line of the goal. So I think one of the things that is hard for us is we see the goal. . and we’re, we’re not sure how to get there in terms of practical steps.
Right. So maybe a, a turning point was a critical conversation that you had. at, with a, key leader in the church, or maybe you read a book and a key insight came that really just like added fuel to your ability to achieve, progress or even the goal. Or maybe you went to a conference or Jimbo, here’s another one.
Maybe you listened to a significant episode on the bootcamp and it was like, and it was just revolutionary So if you did tell us, like let us know what episode and cuz you know, we’re just changing lives here at the bootcamp. Jimbo,
JimBo Stewart: Look, if we, if [00:13:00] we’re one of your turning bunch of highlights, we want to know, we wanna bring on the podcast and hear about
Bob Bickford: not a turning off point. A turning point,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, we don’t, yeah, if, if we turned you the wrong direction, I guess we wanna know, but we probably won’t bring on the podcast for.
Bob Bickford: probably not.
JimBo Stewart: All right, so then from there, a next question I think that would be really good to ask according to this form we have from Bob is, all right, so what are the next steps and how will you build on last year’s progress?
What are the things, so once you’ve, once you’ve informed yourself on what you were trying to do, what progress was made, what specific turning points and highlights helped you get to the progress that you’ve made? What are the action steps or things that you need to do over the next year? to help you build on last year’s progress.
Bob Bickford: That’s a really good one, and that sort is a continuation from year to year. and as you’re describing this, one things that made me think about was, you know, when you pick up, and for you, you play golf, right? So,
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm.
Bob Bickford: golf is, is a game of a complete game. [00:14:00] Of different kinds of clubs and different kinds of strokes and approaches, right?
So you got your driver, you got your mid-range, you got your wedge, you got your putter, all those sorts of things. Each of those requires a different skill,
and an understanding of when to use it and when to apply it. And in the same way you build on what you. Learned from last year. Maybe it’s a, a skill and ability and discernment, or maybe it is a, an ability to listen first and process something before you respond.
Or maybe it is a, some sort of evangelistic kind of skill that you’ve developed in having a conversation with a person who’s not a, not even interested in spiritual things and maybe you’ve learned on that. And so how do you build that? So I think going back through otherwise, Jimbo, I think what you have.
if you have 10 goals and none of them carry over into the future and you have a new slate of 10, all right, you’ve accomplished those but you’re not building progress maybe in some, so maybe you should narrow the goals to, you know, three or four or [00:15:00] five and link them together over a a two year period of time to see if you can really get really far down the road or really experience some progress in a particular.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. All that talk about golf makes me want to go play golf until I remembered that I’m in Arkansas and it’s 30 degrees outside and
Bob Bickford: Yes.
JimBo Stewart: I don’t, I. Wanna play golf now. but golf also makes me think of our next question because golf is, a game of frustration and challenges. What, what challenges were faced in 2022?
and think through like what were some of the big hurdles that were either anticipated or unanticipated? and then the follow up question to that is, how will you respond? To last year’s challenges that es, especially if they’re carrying over into the next year. I, I mean, for sure, a challenge for a lot of people in 2022 has been inflation.
I mean, that’s, it is inflation has impacted everybody and everything, including probably your giving. [00:16:00] And even if it hasn’t, impacted your giving. It certainly impacted your spending, because everything costs so much more. And so, but not just that, but like, just in general, what were the challenges that you faced?
And it’s just as helpful to write these things down and then put together an action plan. Not only do you put together an action plan of how you’re gonna, what are the next steps for you to build on last year’s progress, but how are you doing? How are you planning action steps to help you address the challenges that have carried over or will carry over into the next.
Bob Bickford: I love that. So super practical in terms of giving you the the right questions to elicit the right thinking that will create the right strategies for this next year. right as you do that. And so, your challenges are not barriers. No. Or lemme see this way, cha, challenges are not grand canyons. Okay. Like, that’s one of the things we think about.
And in terms of when we face our challenges sometimes it’s like, man, this is [00:17:00] just challenging and I just, I’m exhausted by it and I don’t think we can, can deal with it. But every challenge it can. Met in with some kind of action and progress, and maybe it’s a redirect. Maybe it’s going around, maybe it is pursuing some new goal, that you know the Lord might have for you personally or, or in your, in your fellowship, in your church.
I think it’s important to, to name some of those that you faced and maybe that are continuing on because they will help you set direction for the future in the coming.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, those are all great questions from the form that we got from Bob Baum Garner. we’ll add that to the show notes. There’s some other questions that I want to suggest, for consideration for you as well in Craig Hamilton’s book, wisdom in Leadership. The chapter that I referenced before on where is here chapter 57 on planning, evaluation, and clarity.
He adds six questions. Uh, well six questions. One of those is who can help us work it out. I’ve already read that talking about the fact that you don’t need to do this alone. and then question two or three [00:18:00] are ones that we naturally think about. , uh, where are we deficient or weak, and what are our strengths?
I think a great way to work through those two questions in particular is a tool called four helpful list, which you, which you literally just whiteboard out what, what is right, what is wrong, what is missing, what is confusing, and you just talked through that. And as you evaluate last year, those will help you identify.
More specifically things that you’re deficient in or weaken and what your strengths are. But there’s a few other questions that I think he has. the next three questions are really insightful and helpful for us, as well in evaluation. One is what resources do we have as we’re looking at the things we’re trying to do in the next year?
And he says, don’t just think about money in the bank, although you’ll wanna include that as well. Think about potential money in the bank from reinvigorated, generosity. Think about hours. People have to give skills and talents, contacts in the community. Your geographical position, your historical goodwill, all of these are resources that you have.
[00:19:00] And if they’re not being leveraged, they’re probably lying dormant and overlooked. So beyond your budget and your finances and just how many people are showing up on Sunday morning, what are their gifts? What are the things? What are the resources that God has given you to accomplish? The goals and the ministry that he’s given you.
Bob Bickford: Super good. One of the things I think is necessary that, that just is reinforced by those questions. Jimbo, you gotta get other people in the room, right? Because you have a blind spot, uh, or blind spots, I would say. And you get fixed in your thinking and you need people to help you become. you know, get outta the box, so to speak.
And so those positive people around you who are answering those questions as you’re dialoguing, I think what happens is you’ll sense, and here’s what I’ve seen happen. Somebody will say something and the energy will go up in the room because they have an insight or a perspective that someone else doesn’t, and they see a resource that somebody else doesn’t or they see.
A way to address a challenge or a [00:20:00] deficit in another way that someone doesn’t. And then what happens is it’s like popcorn, Jimbo just kind of, it starts getting energy and gains energy and goes over and, you know, kind of spills over. And so one of the things I think is particularly, I would say to the leader who might be listening to this and thinking the following, I’m exhausted from 2022.
I see so many challenges ahead. I don’t even think that I, I. Do this exercise and feel good about it. Well, here’s what I would say, don’t do it alone. Right? And, and if your frame of mind, if that’s your frame of mind, then you need some help. You need some positive people. And if you don’t have positive people in your church, like you’re thinking through all who’s there and you’re like, there is nobody here who could help me and go to your associational leader, your missional strategist, maybe a pastor down the street that you know, or in the other side of town, maybe a seminary friend, get them on the phone,
somebody who’s. I wish we could give out Alex’s number and have everybody call him, you know, so that would be great. But there’s always, there’s always a way [00:21:00] to get beyond your own thinking and your own discouragement and your own negativity,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah.
Bob Bickford: but you’ll never do it. By yourself if you don’t reach out to somebody else.
And so, you know, you’ve, you’ve said, and we’ve said this recently, don’t pastor alone, you know, don’t, don’t try to do difficult things alone. Get a friend, get a buddy. this would be one of those two. Man is, is, don’t I? If you’re in the pit of despair, so to speak, how do you get out of it? Especially as you don’t want to even finish this episode on planning and thinking and get somebody else in your life to help you think through things that, that you seem to have a difficult time doing.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. And I think if you do the, what resources do we have after you do the four Helpful list or just even what’s, you know, what are our strengths? What are our deficits? I mean, it’s kind of like a blessings list. Like just sit there and really work on it and let the Lord use that to refresh your heart.
That you do have probably more resources than you think. if you’ll sit there and look at that and pray about that because, the Lord, you know, what is it that Clifton always quotes blackaby on the Lord is it has no [00:22:00] obligation to resource your plans. But he will spare no expense to resource his plans.
and if God. If God has led you to do something in the ministry, it’s truly from the Lord and not just your random idea, then, then he’s gonna give you the resources to do it. and so trust him. Pursue first Kingdom of God. Don’t worry about, don’t be worried. This is not to induce worry, but we do have to be honest.
coming towards the end of our time, but a couple of these questions just to think through, one, two more. one, what are we assuming and are those assumptions? Hamilton says this can be a very difficult question to answer because an assumption is by its very nature something that we assume, but sometimes we can see them or hear them in others better than we can ourselves.
So this, again, as you’re doing this in community, so listen carefully for the assumptions you hear behind things that others around the table are saying. And when you hear someone say that the, maybe the church can’t add any more ministries, cuz there isn’t space in your current building, you might ask whether that assumption.
Whether the assumption that all your events need to be held on your premises is a valid assumption. [00:23:00] Sometimes challenging circumstances will cause us to be aware of assumptions we’ve held our, that we’ve even held ourselves. What are these assumptions and are they true? And just under, like you may have fallen into, well, this is how we’ve always done it, or We can’t do that, because of assumptions.
And so see what assumptions may be standing your way. And then this last question that he has is super important who. Holds the power. like who holds the power within your church? It’s not only the people who have official titles that hold power, but this is going back to the conversation we’ve had about gatekeepers and like, so, and maybe they’re listed in your challenges.
Maybe when you got to your challenges list, you put names, , you know, of your, of your gatekeepers. But, just some things to think through. And the last thing I’d say, and then I’d love a last word from you, Bob, is as you set goals, Break those down into quarters. So if you’ve got goals for the whole year, break those down into four pieces and think of those.
Try to make quarterly progress. cuz a year is sometimes just too [00:24:00] long for our, for us to think on something. And then lastly, give some low hon low hanging fruit. Create some ways for you to get some wins and celebrate those wins as you go.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, man. My last word would be, uh, to say this to, to those who maybe have never engaged in this or may be discouraged by thinking, man, I, this is gonna be really hard. What I would say is, man, just make a run at it and ask yourself these questions. And then here’s what I would also say to, if you’re married and you have a spouse, so no, no, to ask her those questions, like get her insight because she loves you, she loves the church, and she wants to see things flourish, right?
And then I painted the best case scenario, right? So we hope that the spouse loves the, the pastor loves the church, et cetera.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, we hope that’s true.
Bob Bickford: I hope that’s true. She’s a safe person to process these questions with, and then she’s also a, a smart and wise person maybe to say, Hey, who else in our church or in my life, Would be helpful for me to process these questions with.[00:25:00]
And, uh, if you’re listening to this in the last week of December, hopefully you’ve got some time off and you can, uh, connect with her and maybe ask, ask and answer those questions and then start taking steps to move forward. And here’s what I would close with this. This doesn’t have to be done by January one
JimBo Stewart: No.
Bob Bickford: starts January one. And give yourself, give yourself all of January and maybe end of February to be
working this process. And so, Man, go for it.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, if you had questions, reach out to us. Hey, one note I wanted to let you know our podcast, I haven’t told you this even yet. Bob is now, uh, officially on Amazon Music. and so you can now find it listed on Amazon. I think, and I’m not tested this, I think you could find it on an Alexa device if you just said, Hey, Alexa, play the Replant Bootcamp podcast.
Bob Bickford: Awesome.