I sat on the corner chair in my bedroom with my journal open, feet tucked up on the seat, ready to reflect on the year and write the list for 2019 “New Year’s Resolutions.” But something felt unsettling, even anxious.
Do you ever feel stressed when thinking about making plans for the future?
Then this post will help.
WHY DO WE MAKE RESOLUTIONS?
Do we make resolutions for the new year because “me and only me” are responsible for who I become like the best-selling author, Rachel Hollis says?
No. We make plans because it helps us move forward in following Jesus and making a difference in the world—whether that difference is simply loving those around us better or launching a new endeavor. As a follower of Jesus, God has a huge role in our transformation into his likeness as we die to ourselves and obey him in daily life, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
I think my anxiety in making New Year’s resolutions is that most of the time, the practice leaves God out of the equation—at least the way many approach resolution-making. I don’t want to make a list of things I’m gonna make happen on my own.
I don’t want a God-less successful life. Success in life is following Jesus, no matter what our day job looks like.
HOW CAN WE MAKE RESOLUTIONS?
First, I don't call them resolutions, but plans. Resolutions seem cemented, but plans are open to God's leading (Prov. 16:9).
Here are 3 steps I’m doing this year as I plan ahead:
START WITH PRAYER.
Inviting God in to help me see with wisdom and insight where I am at in life.
TAKING INVENTORY WHILE IN A MODE OF PRAYER.
Looking at the 7 main areas of my life and asking God to reveal to me the strengths in each area and what might need changed. Writing down my thoughts to review and pray over.
Relationship with God. (Spiritual)
Relationships with my family and friends (Relational)
How I am feeling most days (Emotional)
Job (or in my case, home and grad school)
Physical (how is my health doing?)
Mental (how am I growing intellectually)
Dreams (what are my dreams and how might God be leading me in next steps)
PRAYERFULLY CONSIDERING HOW I CAN MOVE FORWARD IN EACH AREA.
What is one (and only one) next step? What needs to happen in my life to make that step?
REFLECT ONCE A MONTH
My idea is to re-evaluate my 1-step at the end of each month. Pray through each area and ask the Lord if something needs adjusted or what the next step might be.
I want to reach my dreams for the kingdom and for my family. But resolving to do it myself? Nope. In my mind, that’s just rebellion. It’s like Saul who resolved to follow God’s commands the way he wanted to. And what did Samuel the prophet respond to him? To obey is better than sacrifice and to yield to God’s plan is better than offering God the fat of rams. For rebellion (doing it your way instead of God’s) is like witchcraft and idolatry. (1 Sam. 15:22-23, paraphrase mine).
So, Christians, let’s dream big for our families, for the kingdom, for the good of others and ourselves—but let’s walk with God in the planning, daily living, and disciple-making. We probably will end up in places we never imagined—and better.
Like this Christmas, while I enjoyed a moment full of turkey and sweet potatoes and extended family I never knew because God led us to move to the East Coast.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.