Stress and conflict will be inevitable, so wise leaders clarify in advance what they will, or will not, stake their life on. Your clarity can determine which issues will be negotiable and which decisions will be non-negotiable. Where will you stake “the parsonage and pension plan” … your life and career … and where will you accept strategic delay?

Write your epitaph before the year begins. How do you want to be remembered at the end of the year? “He died upholding the legitimacy of serving communion in a different way?” Or “She staked her career to remove one mean controller from church office?” Or “He was willing to lose three long time, prejudiced members in order to reach a whole new community for Christ?”

Design your funeral service. What music would best reveal your personal mission in life? What scriptures would reveal the essence of your faith? What last words would you carve on your tombstone? If you were suddenly gone, what stories would people recall? “We’ll miss him because ….?” “The best thing she ever did was …?”

Lead each year as if it were your last. Most clergy err believing they have more time.