2021 was not the year my wife and I had hoped it would be so when 2022 came around, we were hoping for something far better than the previous year. And I am happy to say that 2022 was a far better year, but still a year filled with ups and downs. As a way for myself (and maybe others) to remember it, I’ve created a list of things below that I enjoyed and a small smattering of things I did not enjoy from 2022.
I managed to read a couple of books this year (27 out of 35 on my Goodreads goal, just in case you were wondering). Here is a list of my favorites.
- The Gospel Shaped Leader by Scott Thomas – I finished this book at the very beginning of 2022, but it began a string of books focusing on the character of christian/pastoral leadership that I so desperately think is needed in the American Church today. If not by the American Church, then it is character that I so desperately need! This book prioritized the humility and servitude emulated by Christ over the often bombastic displays of brash character we see in the church today. I would hear Scott speak not even two months earlier on the topic. Although it was not my most impactful read of the year, it is certainly one I will return to as a refresher of the gospel-way of ministry.
- The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine – Three key takeaways from this book for pastors. 1) You are not sinning because you are not omnipresent. You’re in sin because you are trying to be. 2) You are not sinning because you are not omniscient. You’re in sin because you are trying to be. 3) You are not sinning because you are not omnipotent. You’re in sin because you are trying to be. Another pastor I heard from this year, Zack reminds us that pastors are sinful, finite humans. There is nothing special about us. There is nothing to be praised, only One to whom we point where that praise should be directed. I cannot recommend this book any more highly. It is a must read for anyone who hopes to be a pastor or is a pastor.
- A Collection of Spiritual Discipline Books – I don’t have enough to say about each of these titles for a section under each of them, but I think these two, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero and Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas are both worth checking out. Both focus on some of the spiritual disciplines we tend to ignore like Sabbath, silence, and solitude. Scazzero’s work on silence and sabbath has done wonders for my own spiritual life.
- The Lord is My Courage by K.J. Ramsey – I (read) this one on audiobook and I’m glad I did. Narrated by K.J. I am thankful for the way she tells her story alongside short phrases from Psalm 23. In this work, Ramsey divides the psalm into 35 small sections and walks us through the hurt she and her husband experienced from their church. As one who has been hurt by churches in the past, Ramsey was able to put “language to” and “sympathize with” my hurt. For anyone who has ever been hurt by a church, I encourage you listen to her narrate her story. It’s worth the listen!
Honorary Mention: Live No Lies by John Mark Comer
- The Workshop Podcast – Look, I think it’s fair to put my own podcast on here. Sure, we haven’t recorded anything since the end of 2020. No, I’m not sure if we’ll ever record again. But I still enjoy going back and listening to some of the moments when life as simpler (kind of). Is there a chance we’ll record more…maybe? All I know is there is something fun about listening to two friends banter about (sometimes) silly things.
- The Russell Moore Show – This goes into the serious category. I love about everything Russell Moore puts out! I don’t think there are many other voices that are as thoughtful or consistent on topics that deal with engaging our culture as Russell Moore. Which is why I appreciate every episode that is put up whether is a Q&A episode or one in which he speaks with a guest about topics ranging from politics to the family. If you want to live faithfully as a Christian in an ever changing world, this one is worth the listen.
- Kluck – I’ve listened to The Happy Rant and The Gut Check Podcast for a long time. And while I enjoy both of those podcasts, I was very surprised when I heard about another podcast with Ted Kluck. Much like two friends talking Kluck has this same feel. Josh Lofthus and Ted Kluck spend their time discussing whatever they’d like which always has me laughing. For this reason I think Kluck is worth checking out.
- 40 Minutes in the Old Testament – The Old Testament can be hard to understand. Hebrew is hard to understand. This is why I listen to this podcast. It is exactly as it is titled. Each episode Chad and Daniel spend 40 minutes unpacking an OT text. They may get through a chapter. They may get through a couple of verses. Either way it is packed with insight about passages I might have found difficult to understand before hearing their explanation.
There wasn’t a lot in music that I loved this year. I honestly think it was a disappoint year of music. But I have one album that I enjoyed.
- Live Archive by Kings Kaleidoscope – My 2022 Spotify Wrapped said I listened to this artist more than any other this year and I believe it! This album was the reason. Live Archive is filled with every live recording since 2015. While I enjoy the studio versions of each song, I’ve appreciated the difference of the live recordings. The album is made up of 43 tracks and 2.5 hours of listening time. Perfect for those shorted road trips this holiday season.
- Things I did not like – Can we address Taylor Swift? I get it, she’s rerecording her albums the way she wants them and that is (I guess) kind of noble of her. But she’s also gotten a massive payday from them which is something that has been largely overlooked by her fans and mostly everyone else. Taylor Swift is something I’d like to hear less of in 2023.
- My Church – The church I’m currently an Associate Pastor at has had a rough 2022. We lost our lead pastor and a number of elders as a result in June and July. Much to my dismay, this was not my first experience in which leadership has hurt the people it should be shepherding. In spite of all this, I am proud to be a part of this church. The elders, the staff, the deacons, and the members have beautifully strove together amidst events that have closed other churches. I find immense joy from serving alongside each and every one of them! Repeatedly, I’d say when I started this position, “Not everyone can be this nice.” The truth is, they are all nicer, more gracious, and more sincere than I originally thought. I am underserving of being at a church so beautiful! Still, I look forward to serving them in 2023 and many, many more years to come.
- A Healthy Pregnancy – Many who have read my previous posts know my wife and I lost a baby last year due to Trisomy 18. As a result, we were hesitant to “try” again. I am happy to say that my wife is over 20 weeks pregnant with another boy, Shiloh Koa. While it is too soon to guarantee, we have rejoiced in health of our baby boy and are praying for continued health as we approach his due date.
- Things I did not like – Anger culture and a reason to be angry about everything. Division in this country is at a high-point. That, I can take. We can be divided about a number of things and talk with civility. What has been unenjoyable and downright wicked is the vitriol with which we attack each other over our difference from politics to who got what they deserved: Chris Rock or Will Smith (yeah, that was this year!). And unfortunately, Christians have not been excluded from this trend. When we should be marked by gentleness, self-control, peace, and love, we look more like the rest of the world. My hope for this next year is for unity brought about by Christians being more defined by the Spirit than desirous for petty arguments.
For those of you who have made it this far, I hope that you might find enjoyment in the things I enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) this year. Additionally, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and many blessings on 2023!