As a pastor in the competitive world of Washington, D.C., Mark Batterson has learned a few things about planning and setting priorities. Those lessons are the focus of his latest book, Win the Day.
As many people prepare for the new year by setting new goals and aspirations, Batterson advises that will require an ordering of priorities.
It should involve both writing the goals down on paper and aligning one’s habits with those goals, he said. Toward that end, he has created a Win the Day Journal as an accompanying piece to the new book. His goal, he said, is to help readers experience increased effectiveness by dividing goals into daily steps, specifically over the course of 40 days.
“Putting something into a 40-day format just gives people a daily dose, and it helps them get some momentum in their prayer life,” explained the pastor of National City Church. “And so, the way that I would describe it is, do it for a day, to win the day.”
Batterson believes if you put your goals on paper one step at a time, then you are one step ahead to set up the right habits. His deep passion is a desire to see people succeed in reaching their goals. And for him, this is a prophetic calling.
“I feel like I have more of a prophetic mantle than a pastoral mantle, which seems weird for a pastor to say, but to me, that gift of prophecy is not just timeless truth. It’s (truth) spoken in a timely way,” he said.
“When I sit down to write, … I take my shoes off, as I feel like it’s holy ground. And I genuinely ask the Lord to anoint me, and occasionally I will be writing, and I hope this comes across the right way. I’m a guy that, you know, took a graduate assessment that showed a low aptitude for writing. It’s not a natural gifting, it’s an anointing. And so occasionally I’ll write something and just jokingly say to my wife, ‘I think I just wrote something that’s better than what I can do.’”
In his writing, Batterson seeks to challenge people to pursue what they believe God has placed in their hearts. He sees that in his own struggles, visible in a lack of natural writing ability or even in having planted a failed church before founding National Community Church. He believes if he can succeed at pursuing God’s calling, anyone can.
That led to this athletic comparison: “Let’s do a 30-day habit challenge, where I’m in your business every day for 30 days. … Pick a habit, any habit, and then we’re going to go to work, and I’m going to come alongside you. And I’m going to spot you as you bench press this habit.”
In these tough times everyone needs someone to walk alongside them and encourage their progress, he said.
“The word of the year is ‘languishing.’ It’s not mental illness, and it’s not mental health. It’s like this weird place where we just aren’t sure where we’re going or what we’re doing.”
“The CDC says one third of Americans are anxious or depressed. The word of the year is ‘languishing.’ It’s not mental illness, and it’s not mental health. It’s like this weird place where we just aren’t sure where we’re going or what we’re doing. We lack a little bit of motivation. I just feel like that is when and where and why you need to go back to the basics — go back to daily habits. You’ve got to deconstruct and reconstruct your rhythms and routines.”
Such discipline has been necessary in his role — like walking a tightrope – in leading a church on Capitol Hill, with church members who work for the government, including some influential and well-known politicians.
“Leadership is not for the faint of heart,” he said. “There’s wear and tear. There’s bumps and bruises. I think this is when leaders stay calm and carry on. One of the things I’ve learned about leadership is from Edwin Friedman, who defined leadership as being a non-anxious presence. And I think that’s huge. That is when leaders just keep their eye on the vision. His kingdom is going to come; his will is going to be done. Don’t lose heart; don’t lose faith.”
Maina Mwaura is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.
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