For most of my life, I never participated in this cultural ritual. Honestly, I didn't want to make a pledge at the beginning of the year that I was certain I would never be able to obtain. Several years ago, a friend suggested that my approach to resolutions was all wrong. Rather than seeing them as promises to myself that I would certainly break, he told me to look at them more as annual goals. What would I like to see myself accomplish in the coming year? Since they are targets, any movement towards achieving them is a step in the right direction. Even if I lose my way in March or April, a quick review of my resolutions in this new mindset gets me back on the path toward my goal.
For me, the resolutions that I make are a reflection of the things that are most important to me....those things that currently hold the top place for me as well as I what I aim to make a priority in the coming year. A helpful tool in determining your current priorities is by considering what you have said "yes" to this year. Regularly submitting job applications means that making a career change is a high priority for you. Agreeing to babysit your grandchildren as often as possible shows that building a relationship with the youngest members of your family is high on your list.
It is not only important to look at the "yes" answers in your life. Examining what you have said "no" to can be just as insightful. I may say that becoming a better musician is very important to me, but if I regularly neglect practicing my instrument then my words are simply hot air. All the good intentions in the world to lose weight are worthless without making changes to my diet and exercise routine. No matter how much I may WANT these things to be priorities, my actions define what I truly value.
Dare I say it? Does this same concept apply to our spiritual lives as well? As a Christian, I say that I want to be a servant who shows the love of Christ to others in both word and deed. Do my actions support the words claiming this is a top priority? Thankfully, only two beings truly know the answer to that question: God and me. No one else is able to judge the condition of my heart. However, Paul does invite us to "examine ourselves" on a regular basis. Now it's time to be honest with myself and take a hard look at my actions.
Each of us know the areas that are most difficult for you. See if any of these scenarios sound familiar? They may bring to mind some other items you need to consider.
- I say that I love God and want to worship Him with all that I have. Do I allow any excuse that presents itself to keep me away though? I'm too tired.....it's so far out of the way.....the children......the parents......I'm just not interested.
- I don't study the Word because I don't understand.....I'll just wait and let the teacher explain it. After all, God understands!
- I don't talk to my colleagues about God because I don't want to offend them...after all, I can't push them away since I have to work with them.
- Don't ask me to work with senior adults (insert "children or teens or adults" at will) because they annoy me. I don't have to like everybody, I just have to be kind to them. [Does that really sound like a CHRISTian response to you?]
Before anyone gets offended and thinks that I am speaking directly to them or their situation, please know that this mirror is pointing back directly at me. Are my words that describe my "priorities" matched and supported by my actions? If not, I'm not fooling God. If we're honest with ourselves, we're probably not being fooled either. Time for a priority check! I want to make sure that everything is in its proper order as I enter the New Year.