New Year’s resolutions: Love them or hate them? For me, it’s
a mixed bag. The Type A personality in me loves the idea of setting goals and
finding the discipline to stick them out, no matter how hard. The pragmatist in
me thinks they’re dumb, especially when my own experience and a quick look at
my local gym show me most people last less than 60 days with their New Year’s resolutions.
Not to over-spiritualize the making or breaking of
resolutions, but I’m often disturbed how quickly we can make decisions and then
lose our resolve. Christ calls us to a life of ever-deepening relationship with
Him and growth in our character. So if resolutions help us get there, that’s
great. But if they are a way we give lip service to something that we know we won’t
follow through on, perhaps we need to re-examine this yearly habit.
To follow Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 5:33 to keep the
oaths we make, I normally use this time of year to make “resolutions” with my
own twist. Rather than writing an exhaustive — or even short, yet unattainable — list of resolutions, I prefer to spend some time thinking about the past year
and the upcoming year. Rather than setting goals like “lose 10 pounds this
year,” I try to look at the year that’s gone by and consider the patterns I’ve
fallen into and if they’re healthy or harmful.
Here are some of the questions I ask myself:
- What did I struggle with in the last year?
- How did I grow?
- What areas of my life do I think God would like
to see growth?
From these questions, I think through some of the areas that
I can and should work on in the coming year, and I write those down. I can’t
say this method is fool-proof — I still forget and find myself drifting in my
strength of resolve — but I prefer it to the light-hearted resolutions that I
will forget or fail at before January is over.
Another way I sometimes approach New Year’s is through a
quick look at the kinds of books I’ve been reading and the amount of
entertainment (namely, TV) that I’ve allowed into my life. Occasionally, I will
choose some books that I’d like to dive into — or finish — in the New Year.
I haven’t fully decided on the areas that I need to work on in 2013, but as I’ve
started reading Francis Chan’s book The
Forgotten God, I’ve seen that there are some areas in my Christian life —
namely, the work of the Holy Spirit — that I need to develop in a greater way.
What about you? Do you make
resolutions? How long do you manage to keep them?