We have turned the calendar to begin another year. It’s 2015. Beginning another year is often a good time to pause and reflect on Moses’ prayer: “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). One way to put feet on this is to consider areas for personal change in the new year. Things like resolutions can be a helpful way to take action along those lines. But it’s no secret that resolutions typically lose their glamour and allure quickly.
Having attempted to keep resolutions in the past, I’ve found a few things that have worked well for me. These are resolutions that have provided a launching pad for other resolutions; or, resolutions for resolutions. I have not perfectly implemented these resolutions, but when I have kept them, they provide the framework to build in other more specific resolutions. And some might put them all to work, while others one or two.
In either case, here are a few resolutions to consider for new year’s resolutions:
- Getting up a tad earlier and around same time.
Most of our resolutions and life changes we want to make involve getting something done or getting more done. Whether a family goal, a project, diligent Bible reading and prayer, career or fitness goals, accomplishing these things often comes down to getting up a tad earlier. There is a certain productivity that seems to be unmatched in the early morning hours.
If you get up earlier, you can usually get more done. I know, rocket science, right? But the saying is true: “He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully” (Prov 10:5).
And though this has often been a battle for me, I’ve noticed something fascinating about getting up a tad earlier: I haven’t died from doing so.
- Pushing myself towards greater excellence, especially in the “smaller” things.
Again, many of our desired life changes have to do with doing something better. And as Christians that should generally be something for which we always strive.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). Excellence is rooted in living for God’s honor, even (and especially) in the small things. It’s something we are to shoot for at all times.
Aristotle is quoted as once saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” In other words, if we want to grow in excellence in one thing, then we may need to focus on becoming a person of excellence. Excellence is more about who we are becoming than a task we do here or there. So we will become that person as we shoot for excellence in the things that no one sees and the things behind closed doors. Doing small things excellently will, over time, result in an entire life of excellence.
Whether cleaning your house, your ministry in your church, family devotions, or that thing your boss is asking you to do, push yourself in personal excellence.
- Regular Bible reading and prayer.
Often our goals pertain to growth in christlikeness and knowing and loving Christ. The discipline of taking in our Lord’s word will do. Christ told Martha that this one thing is priority above all things: “…Mary…was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word…the Lord answered and said, ‘but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part…'” (Luke 10:39, 41, 42).
We cannot go wrong by doing everything necessary to regularly sit and worship the King of kings. We might need to make some hard decisions, deny ourselves, and get a little less beauty sleep, but our Lord deserves our worship, it’s our privilege, and we need it more than anything.
If you have a Bible reading plan, great. If not, consider reading through Scripture systematically, while sticking to a somewhat consistent amount of time. For example, if you are not reading or praying at all, consider setting aside four days per week of 10 minutes. Or, if you are reading 15 minutes per day, three days per week, try 30 minutes, at four days. Try something, push yourself, and stick to it.
Having kept this resolution, you will not arrive at the end of 2015 and conclude, “Bummer, I wish I would not have followed through with that this year.”
- Plug all the way in to a sound, New Testament local church.
In addition to personal character, sometimes our resolutions have to do with improving our relationships, getting to know more people, strengthening our family, and getting accountable to God’s people. For these reasons, and so many more, Christ created his church.
A biblical, New Testament local church is God’s greenhouse for us, as otherwise naturally and perpetually parched souls. It’s his care center for humanity, his hospital for spiritually imperfect humanity, and the local manifestation of his global body.
Whatever you do in 2015, find a local church that is God’s kind of church as defined in the Bible and plug all the way in. This might involve new levels of discomfort for some of us. But that’s OK. Like going to the gym or a diet change, we expect and embrace that whenever we are making needed life changes. How much more ought we to do so when it comes to our soul and God’s good desires for our lives?
Let’s push ourselves in this area, to be there on Sundays, actively participate in home groups, enthusiastically become members, regularly serve in ministries, eagerly contribute to the needs, humbly ask the leadership how we can grow and help, and joyfully give ourselves to what Charles Spurgeon called, “The dearest place on earth.”
- Getting rid of our push-able buttons.
Often our desires for personal change involve growing in joy and contentment, or, similarly, not getting bothered by things so easily. That’s something we all should want; to become a more enjoyable person to be around. But if you’re like me, perhaps you have buttons that are too easily pushed; things by which you are too easily irritated.
But God has probably not authorized the existence and operation of our too-easily-pushed buttons. Doubtful he has instructed us, “Ok, be sure that you have those easily-pushed buttons out there this year…” Likely, some of our needed change involves axing the buttons.
Doing so involves personal change which incorporates some of the previous four areas mentioned. It’s a worthy endeavor. Also, as we grow in knowing Christ’s glory and love more, we will often be too distracted to get our feathers ruffled and fragile feelings fractured. Additionally, our job is to give ourselves to loving others, not analyzing our pushed buttons. R.C. Chapman is quoted as once saying, “My job is to love others, not see to it that others love me.”
Everybody knows that coffee is the chief vehicle to the world’s productivity.
Whether becoming the kind of spouse, single, employee, leader, or parent we need to be, I’ve found these kinds of resolutions to be personally helpful. Whatever changes you endeavor to make in 2015, I hope that you will experience the joy of growth in Christ this year.
Happy New Year from all of us at the Cripplegate.