Not Another New Year Post!


By Mathew A. Pinson, Georgia United Methodist Foundation President and CEO

How many posts have you read about New Year’s resolutions, plans for 2023, or projections and prognostications about the coming year? Too many, I expect.

When I was growing up, my father and grandfather would say, “If you are on time, you are late!” I believe we arrived in 2023 precisely on time. So, let’s think beyond 2023 for a few minutes.

The best leaders I know do not live in the present—they live years, even decades, into the future. These leaders know how to balance competing interests. They know how to cast a hopeful, inspiring, and lasting vision. And they understand how to focus themselves and their teams on what matters most. Above all, these leaders understand what their priority is and how to remain focused on the priority!

It is essential to understand that the word priority once meant something other than what it does today. In Greg McKeown’s best-selling book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” (Crown Business, New York, 2014), he explains the surprising history of the word priority and how its meaning has shifted over time. McKeown notes:

“The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow, we would now be able to have multiple “first” things. People and companies routinely try to do just that. One leader told me of this experience in a company that talked of “Pri-1, Pri-2, Pri-3, Pri-4, and Pri-5.” This gave the impression of many things being the priority but actually meant nothing was.”

Church and nonprofit leaders understand what it means to balance competing demands—demands that become tasks—tasks that become competing priorities. At times, this balancing act can be paralyzing. I find that it is most important to name the purpose and mission of the organization as the priority. When leaders follow this practice, they are better able to give full attention to the action plans that drive the organization forward. Although this concept may not seem like a big deal, it is!

At the Georgia United Methodist Foundation, our work is anchored by our purpose and mission, which is not replicated by any other financial institution available to Methodists in Georgia. The Foundation’s purpose is to partner with churches, nonprofits, individuals, and families in direct support of the ministries and mission of the church. In this way, we are a ministry partner as we seek to live out our mission to provide faith-based financial solutions for investing, lending, training, and planned giving.

For some leaders, 2023 is just beginning, while for other leaders, 2023 is nearly over, and they are already thinking about 2024, 2025, and beyond. Therefore, I encourage you to enter this new calendar year with a clear understanding that your church or nonprofit’s priority is its purpose and mission! Once this is clear, you can then focus considerable efforts on developing and implementing action plans that focus well beyond the limits of a standard desk calendar!