Tear down your calendar and tack up the new one. The new year has arrived—you must have heard the shotguns at midnight.
It’s time for everyone and his hair gel-loving cousin to trumpet the importance of resolutions, new habits, and goals. Like pork and sauerkraut, it’s a dependable (if off-putting) tradition.
I’ll leave the goal-setting courses and motivational programs to the gurus. Instead I’m posing some hard questions to help frame the next 12 months. Take a look with me. Answer if you dare.
Where do you need to grow spiritually?
All Christians admit they’re forgiven sinners who continue to sin. So confession and repentance are regular features of our spiritual lives. But too often our confession is vague, and ambiguous confession leads to no repentance at all. Ongoing sin eats away at our souls, so we need to rustle the bushes and scare the specific sins into the open field. Be prepared, they’ll run.
Both the Bible and prayer are essential. We need to read the Bible to remember the features of our rebellion. God hates sin, and we would rather look away than feel his gentle finger pulling up that squeaky floor board.
We pray for God to spotlight the uprisings in our hearts. We need his intervention. Occasionally our sin is so blatant and offensive that it blinks in neon, but more often it slithers away into the dark alleys. We need to face our sin with the courage and confidence that comes from knowing we have been forgiven. Then when God brings the sin to our face, we must be merciless in putting it to death.
How well do you rest?
For some people, resting is difficult; it can feel unproductive and lazy. Of course, these are the people who most need to rest.
Most of us would feel dramatically better if we simply slept more. Track your sleep for a week and see what you learn. (I did this recently and found I slept far less than I would have guessed.)
Rest includes sleep, but it’s bigger. Under this umbrella you should include a weekly sabbath, a yearly vacation, and other stolen hours here and there throughout the months.
Rest requires planning and might look very different from person to person. What recharges you? What renews your physical, emotional, and mental energy? What are you doing to incorporate those activities into your life?
How can you stretch yourself for the kingdom of God this year?
Here I enter the realm of goal-setting, but with a twist. I’m not asking this question to encourage a bigger audience or bank account. As God leads and wills, we should want to have an impact for his kingdom this year. How can we best use our skills and talents and opportunities toward this end? What risks can we take to stretch ourselves?
First, let’s talk evangelism. Who has God put in your life so that you could share the gospel with them? Who can you invite to coffee? To dinner at your house? To church? How can you show God’s saving love to those around you?
What projects are out there for you? Outside of normal office and home activities, what ventures could you undertake to glorify God? These might be artistic or technical, collaborative or individual, public or private. Is there a way for you to tell a God-glorifying story in a medium where you have skill?
What questions are you asking yourself heading into the new year?