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Every year, I take the last week of the year to rest and reflect on the natural transition that is the new year. I do this because I have a core conviction that how you end one season of life can have a huge impact on how you begin another. This is true in all areas of our lives: Our career. Our family. Our education. Our spiritual walk. So over the course of 10 days, I have and will be spending a lot of time resting, reflecting, hanging with my kids, and spending time with the love of my life.

Coming into 2016, I know many of us ask the question, How can we make this year the best yet? All of us are facing different obstacles and life stages, but I think I have some insights that could help make 2016 the best year of your life. These are a few things that I am focusing on and feel God has challenged me with this week:

Pray More and Stress Less

I don’t tend to stress a lot because I realize that many things are simply out of my control. However, with a growing church and the stresses of a new building, things change every single day—some for the good and some for the bad. Either way it can be a roller coaster, but God never changes.

Work Hard and Play Harder

I have the ability to lock into a task for hours at a time, especially if it is urgent or important. The problem is, my kids are growing fast and I am getting older. Julie and I remind each other all the time, “the days are long, but the years are short” and we must make the most of them.

Give More and Spend Less

Yet again we stand at a crossroads in our lives where God is calling us to step up our generosity. We have always given the first 10 percent of our income back to God through our local church as Scripture teaches. However, over the last 15 years, we have felt impressed to increase that radically. Our goal is to one day give 90 percent away and live off the 10 percent. I don’t know how that is possible, but this year we are taking another leap of faith toward that goal.

Plan More and React Less

While we rarely let others dictate our schedule, sometimes we are our worst enemy when it comes to reacting. We don’t plan meals, workouts, dates, etc., as well as we should. This leads to lack of discipline in these areas.

Stay Young While Growing Older

When I was young in ministry, I craved for someone to pour into my life—a mentor, so to speak—especially as it related to spiritual things. Unfortunately, no one really ever did. However, I refuse to NOT pour my life into the next generation. There are a group of millennials (loosely defined as those from about 18-30 years old) that are searching for significance and a place to make a difference. My goal this year is to empty myself into this generation. As I grow older, I will hopefully grow younger as I watch my influence carry over to the next generation.

My prayer is that some of you will join me on this journey and that we will look back at 2016 and realize, no matter what struggles or obstacles that have come our way, it was truly the best year of our lives because of the legacy we will leave in the lives of others.

Carl Nichols

A native of south Atlanta, Carl has a passion for God, Julie, and sports. He and Julie have two sons, Jase and Trey. They have a heart to see people understand how crazy God is about them! Carl is the Lead Pastor at Relevant.

One Comment

  • Carol says:

    As usual, Carl, great insight in your thoughts for 2016. I’m not too old to learn from reading after you! So many things you wrote merit commenting on, but the one particular one….” the days are long but the years are short”….stands out and screams reality to me. Continue to take it to heart as you and Julie are doing. I remain, one of your admirers…..Aunt Carol

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