I’ve known Gerron Showalter for more than 35 years. If you had told me 35 years ago, when Gerron was a goofy teenager (maybe he wasn’t even a teenager yet) and I was a goofy student at Trevecca, that we’d both be Nazarene pastors someday, well, I would probably just laughed at the idea. And yet, here we are. Gerron writes: Hi, I’m Gerron. I’ve been in the group (NazToo) for a while. I grew up in Nashville and went to Trevecca Nazarene. I’m married to Jennifer Showalter. She’s just about the best thing that’s happened to me. We have two amazing girls, Emma and Henley, and a dog that’s pretty cool, too. Currently, my wife and I serve at Port Orange Church of the Nazarene in Port Orange, FL. I love the St. Louis Cardinals, running (ok, walking) half marathons, Duke basketball, malted milk balls from Southern Season Store, Denver Broncos, all things Disney, watermelon milkshakes from Cookout, the writings of Henri Nouwen (Return of the Prodigal Son was transformational for me), playing poker, Blue Bell ice cream, and a few other things.
2020. I remember laughing at Conan O’Brien when he and Andy would tell us what things will be like in the year 2000. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since those skits.
Time flies by. There’s no denying it. As I have been doing my end-of-year evaluation of where my time has been spent, I’ve been keenly aware of how easily I am distracted…by other people’s emergencies that they push onto me, by my lack of motivation, by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, by good ideas that often squeeze out the best ideas.
Last year was a great year, don’t get me wrong. But I wonder how much of my time was spent doing things on the “Well, I guess this is what I’m doing today” list when I really should have been more focused on the “This will bring life to somebody today” list.
To that end, my January began by using a planner notebook. Yes, that’s right. Although I love tech items and would prefer to quickly type things into my iPhone, I am practicing the art of writing things down by hand (and, I’ve got to tell you, I think it kind of sucks but I’m not going to give up just yet).
I think a lot of what has driven this decision comes from two main places: (1.) a song from the movie Frozen 2 called The Next Right Thing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6g1yQV0dIY), and (2.) a podcast that I’ve listened to for years with the same title, The Next Right Thing (https://emilypfreeman.com/next-right-thing-podcast/). Both address the problem of what to do when you feel stuck; when you’re dealt a bad hand; when you feel like your life is Groundhog’s Day. When you stand paralyzed by simply not knowing what to do next.
So I asked for one main thing for Christmas. It was called the Full Focus Planner (https://fullfocusstore.com). It’s a planner on steroids (so, I guess it’s technically banned from MLB and other competitive events). It helps with short range and long range planning, with the intention of creating rhythms that will help a person achieve the large goals by determining the smaller “next right thing” goals in the daily routines. It’s a macro/micro type of thing.
I thought I’d share a few of my long range goals for 2020. Some of these are goals that will happen by the end of the year. Others are goals that I hope will happen daily or weekly throughout the entire year.
UNPLUG ONE FULL DAY/WEEK
If you’re like me, unplugging is a difficult thing to do. Someone always needs you. Work, spouse, friends, church members…people and things contantly pull at us. Whether it’s the phone or the computer, I’m amazed at how much time is spent looking at a screen. My phone notified me the other day that I had reduced my screen time by 10%, but I was still looking at my stupid phone for close to four hours a day. That’s ridiculous. And, yes, I see the irony in looking at my phone for it to tell me how often I look at my phone.
My goal this year is to take a full sabbath once a week. I usually try to have a day off (out of the office and not working on church things), but I rarely take a full day off to simply BE. To be with my family. To be with a book. To be at home resting. I’m hoping this year is a year of change.
READ TWO BOOKS A MONTH (1 FICTIONAL; 1 ON LEADERSHIP)
I slipped into a poor rhythm last year. I read a lot…but I didn’t have focused reading. I read my Bible. I read as I prepped for sermons. I read Facebook posts (big mistake, FYI. People are nuts). Although I read a lot of things, I didn’t read many things that added value to my personal life. I didn’t read a lot of things from start to finish, allowing myself to process through an entire book.
I’m hoping to read more this year with the object of my reading being squarely focused on my personal growth or enjoyment. I have many friends that have read dozens of books in a month. I read from dozens of books. That’s not the same thing. I knew it. I just ignored it. Not this year!
SPEND 30 MIN EACH WEEK TEACHING MY GIRLS TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT
Both of my girls love music. Both Emma and Henley dabble in piano, guitar, and ukulele. They are constantly asking me to teach them something new. I have some ability with each of these instruments, but I often push them off and tell them that I’ll work with them later.
Not cool. They’re actually begging to spend time with their dad. I know this is a phase that will end soon enough. Why am I not taking full advantage?! I can be a real bonehead sometimes.
So I spoke with each of them and told them to come up with a specific time each week where we can work on music and hang out. It will be on my calendar and I’ll view it as something that can’t be squeezed out for other events. I’ve already started this and have loved it!
AND SO IT BEGINS
There are other goals that I have for this year.
Jen and I are praying about two church plants that we would love to see happen through our church one the next three years.
I have a weight goal for the year.
I have a church goal of 20 baptisms this year (which would be more in one year than in the past 5 years combined).
We want to host a dinner event each month, just inviting friends into our house with the intention of simply connecting with people.
I want to memorize the Sermon on the Mount in its entirety.
There are more, but you get the idea.
My hope is that 2020 is one of great intentionality. I hope to care less about what I accomplish and more about living my life on purpose. Some days will be easy. Other days may feel like my plans have to take a backseat to everyone else’s. It’s my hope that as I focus, plan, and execute each day to its fullest, my year will be lived in the sweet spot of working hard, growing deep, and finding beauty in the journey.
Peace, y’all. Find your next right thing. Get focused. And buckle up, because it’s gonna be a great year!