FROM THE EDITOR
Reflections on Leadership
You Crown the Year With Your Bounty G E O R G E P. W O O D
David identifies three reasons to praise the prayeranswering God.
George P. Wood is executive editor of Influence magazine.
8 | Influence
he year 2020 will not be forgotten soon, but it also will not be missed. Although it has been a frustrating time, its frustrations have fostered greater faith in God, who loves and cares for His people. That increased faith is what will and should be remembered. Reflecting on 2020 and preparing for 2021, I have focused on Psalm 65:11, which says, “You crown the year with your bounty.” Psalm 65 comes as a relief after the 14 laments that immediately precede it. “Have mercy on me, O God” (51:1) gives way to “Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion” (65:1). Repeated requests for God to “hear” or “listen” to prayer (54:2; 55:1; 61:1; 64:1) result in a confident, “You who answer prayer” (65:2). David identifies three reasons to praise the prayer-answering God in this psalm: First, forgiveness. “When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave us our transgressions” (verse 3). This verse captures the great truth of the gospel that though we are a sinful people, God is a forgiving God. He always answers the cry of genuine repentance. Second, creation. David turns from the personal to the global when he speaks of God “who formed the mountains by your power” and “who stilled the roaring of the seas” (verses 5–7). These actions remind us that God created the world with stability and order. If we rest in God’s “awesome and righteous deeds”
(verse 5), we can remain calm amidst “the turmoil of the nations” (verse 7). Third, providence. “The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it” (verse 9). In the dry Judean hills from which David reigned, water was a miracle, its presence or absence the difference between life and death. These verses remind us God is life’s source. Because of Him, “The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain.” His provision is yet another reason to “shout for joy and sing” (verse 13). Because of Psalm 65, my prayer for life and ministry in 2021, both yours and mine, is this: Almighty God of love, may we grow in the grace of Your forgiveness, focus on Your steadiness in the midst of our chaos, and trust in ever-greater measure that You will provide for our needs. Amen! In this way, we will end 2021 not with 2020’s exhausted, “We survived,” but with Psalm 65:11’s joyful, “You crown the year with your bounty.” Beginning with this issue, Influence will publish on a quarterly rather than bimonthly schedule. This will allow us to provide you more leadership resources over the year on a more economic basis. In our cover story, Karl Vaters gives guidance on how to pastor small churches after the pandemic. Geoff and Sherry Surratt offer hope to discouraged ministry couples. Darrell Geddes shares lessons he has learned about leading a multicultural church in a multicultural neighborhood. And Jill Fox shows what can happen when volunteers become “owners” of the church’s mission. In a special section, members of the Assemblies of God Mental Health Committee offer pastoral and psychological advice about dealing with our nation’s suicide crisis. Finally, along with our regular columns and profiles, make sure to check out the special advertising section for colleges and universities in the Assemblies of God Alliance for Higher Education.