Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: New Year Reflections 2019


Dear Friends,

The New Year stretching before us is clean, fresh and ready to experience! Indeed the arrival of a new year inspires many of us to resolve to make positive life changes. This is why I spend some time at the beginning of most years writing “resolutions.”

This year I am incorporating my resolutions into “a rule of life” that I first developed last spring in preparation for the executive clergy session of the 2018 North Alabama Annual Conference. My new and improved “rule of life” (revised on January 1, 2019) is on my computer screensaver as a regular reminder of how I aspire to live throughout the next several months.

The concept of a “rule of life” began in religious orders to help Christ-followers live the Christian life with greater intentionality. Including principles and disciplines to develop Christian character and depth, this tool for the journey captures a vision of what we want our life to look like, with a particular focus on good habits to move us forward in growing in the likeness of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18). Ultimately, a rule of life aids Christ-followers in being our best selves in good and difficult times, when life is smooth and when it is bumpy, when we feel close to God and when God seems distant.

I developed the below rule of life as a specific strategy for my journey through this intense time in which we find ourselves as a denomination. Inspired by The Great Commandment as described in Matthew 22: 35-40 and Mark 12:28-31, it focuses on two categories of heart matters that are intertwined: loving God and loving people.

Loving God:

  • I will participate in weekly corporate worship and daily prayer and Bible study, including the Read Together Initiative.
  • I will observe a weekly 24-hour sabbath as a reminder that God is in charge of every aspect of my life.
  • I will fast weekly and pray daily for our church’s mission and the 2019 General Conference from 2:23-2:26 a.m., p.m. or at another time during the day.
  • I will be involved in a ministry with the poor once a month.
  • I will encourage and be encouraged by other Christ-followers through participation in an accountability group with bishop colleagues.

Loving Others:

  • I will assume the best about others’ intentions.
  • If I am troubled by or have questions about another’s actions I will go to them, not to someone else. If that proves fruitless, I will ask one or two others to join me in meeting with them.
  • I will not speak ill of others in conversation or on social media.
  • I will share my faith with others daily.
  • I will share my financial resources generously with others.
  • I will participate in advocating for societal changes that improve the lives of others.

Yes, the beginning of the New Year is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. A rule of life is a strategy to help make life changes that result in our becoming more Christ-like. Whether we call them resolutions, rules of life or life changes, God is calling each of us to grow more and more into the likeness of Christ daily. My prayer is that you and I will do so throughout 2019 and beyond.

Have a great New Year! As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.

Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
North Alabama Conference

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