How are your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions Going? Have they survived the first week?
Are you still on your diet? Are you working out? Texting less? Listening more? Living within your means? Reading your Bible? Praying daily?
I have two thoughts about why our goals and resolutions may not always be effective and too often jettisoned. One thought comes from John Maxwell and the other from Leonard Sweet.
Maxwell says, “there is something more important than goal setting.” He says it is being “growth conscious.” John explains his thinking this way. “If you’re goal-conscious, then you focus on a destination-a sales target, a prestigious position, or a certain level of income. Whereas goal-conscious people lock onto a destination, growth-conscious people focus on the journey. They see the big picture, and they understand that success comes through a process.”
The Bible often speaks of our spiritual growth in terms of being complete, developing maturity, adding Christian virtues and developing the fruit of the spirit (Jas 1:4; Col. 4:12; Eph 4:13; 2 Pet 3:18). These are not short-term goals. They involve a life-long commitment to discipleship and daily following the footsteps of Jesus.
Writer and preacher Leonard Sweet also makes some pertinent observations about the challenge of many of our resolutions.
“Most ‘resolutions’ we make are self-directed: get thinner, work smarter, be stronger, take control of your life. We want to make changes that will help us, improve us, and bring us good feelings about ourselves.“
Sweet suggests that instead of making resolutions “that makes us feel good about ourselves, that brings ourselves pleasure, what if we resolve to live a life that brings pleasure to God?” He challenges us with this questions: “What if we were to forget the little resolutions and resolve something big?” Something, he says, “that brings God pleasure.”
Bringing God pleasure? Is that Biblical? Listen to the Psalmist.
“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” (Ps 147:1)
“Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (Ps 35:27)
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” (Ps 149:4)
Maybe one way to understand this is to remember how much we enjoyed the approval of our parents when we were children. Their smile. A pat on the back. A hug. The words, “I’m so proud of you.” It made us feel good. Accepted. Secure. And loved.
Our Heavenly Father desires to find pleasure in our lives. And, if we really care about pleasing Him, it will bring to our lives a great sense of gratification, knowing that we are living a life pleasing to God.
These two thoughts come together and provide for us a new paradigm about goal setting and New Year’s resolutions. Growth and God. God wants us to grow. It pleases Him. And when we grow to become more like Him we really reach the goals that He desires. Goals that will cause us to be conformed to His image.
“Be Holy for I am Holy,” God says. (1 Pet 1:15-16).
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 2:5).
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23)
So, if you are having trouble following through on your resolutions and reaching your goals, try this. Commit to personal growth. And seek to give God pleasure in 2016. If you do, the goals you achieve, are sure to give both you and Him great satisfaction.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman