Not my favorite time, but alas, it must be done! As an old retreat speaker used to frequently say, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” If we don’t want to stay the same, we need goals to work towards. And of course as Christians, our ultimate goal is to be united with Christ in our heavenly home as Paul proclaims in Philippians 3:13-14: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
We really ought to be making goals not just once a year, but throughout the year. But we can’t just make goals and expect change to come about. Why is it so hard to change? Related to that, why is it so hard even for Christians to change even though we have the Holy Spirit and we are a new creation? I did a series last year based on a Talbot class I took last year, but the short of it is that while we have a renewed heart, or a will to want to obey, we have already developed an engrained pattern of living. And so not only do we need a regenerate heart, we need to unlearn old habits and replace new ones.
That process, which really is the process of sanctification, unfortunately takes time, and more unfortunately, takes effort. Of course we want to recognize that ultimately no change is possible without the grace of God in our lives and the power of the Holy Spirit. But, we can’t just will changes to come, we have to come alongside of and participate in what the Holy Spirit is doing for change to come about. What are some things that can be helpful in that process?
1. Make a plan: Envision what changes you would like to see, and ask yourself what will it take to get there. Do you need to rearrange your schedule? People you need to take to? Things you need to get rid of? Be specific (and I would add, be realistic) and write it down.
2. Get accountability: Ideally, find someone who wants to do something similar and make your plan together. But even if no one wants to do it with you, asking to be kept accountable will help.
3. Do it! There really isn’t any short cut in forming new habits except by doing them. How many days does it take for new habits to form? Not sure, but if you do something everyday it’ll probably become a habit =).
1. Read more: Not just the Bible, but just books in general. Time to utilize my Goodreads app! Some books I would love to get through this year: Martin Llyod-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers (currently reading), Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections, Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. I want to aim for one book a month if I’m not in school.
2. Pray more: This makes the list every single year. Especially praying with my wife.
3. Maintain my weight: Forget getting cut or buff. I will be happy if I gain no more weight this coming year. My plan? Julian Michaels, rollerblading, and basketball.
I need to work out a better plan for 2 and 3.
Happy New Year everyone!