With some fanfare, an old year departed under the black of night and the Year of Our Lord 2015 waltzed across our calendar. A new year means a fresh slate on all those projects and goals, right?
Around our house, we know better than to make resolutions. According to a poll by University of Scranton, however, 45 percent of Americans usually make at least one New Year’s Resolution. More power to them.
If you made one, by now you might have broken it. What? It’s no joke. According to the same poll, one in four people will break their resolution in the first week of January. After one month, 46 percent have abandoned those good intentions.
It’s no surprise, really. We are imperfect humans living in a fallen world. Sometimes we set our sights too high. Most of the time we don’t plug into the right source to empower our success.
The Right Source
Plenty of research would suggest that the human brain is wired to fail at resolutions. The prefrontal cortex isn’t strong enough to resist the temptation of falling back into the easy habits we’ve taught it over a lifetime.
Our brain is amazing because it was created in the likeness of an Omnipotent God. And still, it is constrained by flesh.
Rather than depending on our own willpower to meet a goal we’ve set for the New Year, we should be depending on the Almighty. He asks us to rely on His grace and offers free access to it (“Come boldly to the throne of grace” – Hebrews 4:16).
This year, plug your goal into the right source: Jesus Christ.
The Right Goals
Almost half of all resolutions relate to self-improvement of some sort. In 2014, things like losing weight, getting organized, and spending less while saving more topped the list.
Are these worthy goals? Sure. But are they the right goals in context of living our lives to advance the Kingdom of God?
If we want God to help us reach our goals, the first step is to set goals which align with His purpose. “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) states an important purpose of Jesus Christ.
Does that mean our goals should be about sharing the Gospel with other people?
As you ponder that question, let’s take a look at what a goal to share the Gospel might look like. To be fair, I’ll use myself as an example.
In 2013, I graduated from college and quit my job in public education to pursue my God-given calling – writing. Most of the people reading this probably have a different calling and different gifts.
Ideas for fiction novels flowed through my brain like water through a broken dam. And so I wrote. Three complete novels in six months. (Before you get impressed by this, realize that one of them had to be completely scrapped and the other two are still only drafts – not publishable manuscripts.)
How had writing those novels shared the Gospel with other people? In truth, it hadn’t. It had, however, taught me to rely more heavily on the Lord.
I made a goal to post once per week on the church blog. As you see, I’ve maintained that goal. Has anyone been reached with the Gospel? I don’t know, but it isn’t because I didn’t write God-honoring posts.
The Right Stuff
Once we plug into the right source and make the right goals, we have what it takes to make a fresh start.
Will we succeed? Possibly. Of course, our idea of success is often skewed because of what the world around us says. It’s better if we trust God to make us successful.
I’ve lost weight to meet my goals before, and it felt pretty good. But then I stopped focusing on eating right, and the weight crept up again. Goals have helped me improve my musical skills and complete projects.
None of these things gave the same sense of satisfaction as looking back at the calendar and seeing I have kept most of the writing goals I set. Why? Because those goals are inspired by God and His calling in my life.
Welcome in the New Year. Embrace the opportunity for another new beginning. Before you make your New Year’s Resolutions, check in with the Almighty Source of success.
What would Jesus Christ have you do in 2015?