As we change our calendars each new year, we automatically feel an unspoken invitation to new beginnings and fresh starts. A year’s worth of mostly blank pages beckon us to make our mark on the future. Hope has opened her door.
I must admit I quit making New Year’s resolutions decades ago, knowing I would soon become a failure if I did. And I did not like the way failure felt. It wasn’t worth it.
But I haven’t stopped making goals for myself. For me there was a difference in a self-directed resolution and a goal that I could pursue for the purpose of personal growth. The second is made with a prayer that God will be the one at work in me rather than my own efforts. Not that I don’t expend energy toward the goal, but it’s a cooperative effort rather than a solitary one.
So here are three uncommon goals you might want to consider for the new year:
1. What can I do to become more emotionally healthy?
Physical health and weight loss usually top most lists of personal resolutions. Second on the list for Christians is spiritual growth. Emotional health rarely makes anyone’s list.
Yet emotional health affects every day of our lives. How we handle our anger, our fears, our temptations, and our stresses determines the course of each day of our lives. I’m currently reading a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero. The author states that you can’t be spiritually healthy and mature without equal health and maturity on the emotional level.
Think about what you can do. Is it time to invest in some counseling? Do you need to find a mentor with whom you can and will be truly honest? Do you need to read a book or two on the subject?
2. What can I do to be more prepared for persecution and difficulty?
Can you believe I said that? Take a deep breath. I’m not a prophet with a vision of what lies ahead. But I do know that the Bible says: “in the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33) and “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Some of us are in the middle of troubles right now and some are not. For those who are not, I strongly encourage you to make the most of these days ahead to grow deeply in God’s Word so that in the day of adversity you will have a stronger foundation.
There is no substitute for consistent Bible study. Most of you are just like me, high on intent and low on practice. We have great aspirations to do more study, but rarely follow through. Join a Bible study and be as faithful to it as you are to eating three times a day. It is as important to your spiritual health as food is to your physical health.
3. What can I do to more fully savor the life God has given me?
We often hear those who are dying say how much they are enjoying each day they have left in this world. They focus all their energy on maximizing the time they have. They enjoy the people in their world as never before.
Though we are all living under a death sentence, most of us live as if we will never die. Yet some of us may not see the next changing of the calendar. It’s a scary thought, honestly. But it would be good for us to evaluate how we can enjoy each of our days more fully.
What have you always wanted to do that you’ve put off too long? What dreams do you have for time with your children and your spouse that you can attempt this year? Just find one or two and go for it. Even if you just plan to enjoy sunsets and starry nights together as a family because you can’t afford a trip to the Grand Canyon, that’s enough.
Consider the goal of savoring the days of your life as you anticipate the next year. You won’t be sorry. A believer from another century, Iraneus, said, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Seek to be a fully alive person this year.
None of these suggestions are easy. They will demand some sacrifice in time, expense, and energy, but nothing worth accomplishing is ever free. Don’t let others dictate all of your hours for you. Don’t be passive or unteachable or unbelieving. Instead move into this new year eager to become all God meant you to be and to enjoy Him and the great goodness He has given you as never before. Determine to grow as the man or woman He created you to be in the next year.
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