Three easy ways to rethink your New Year's resolutions
At the start of every year, we set goals with every intention of checking off each resolution as we complete it. We come up with the ideal plan for personal success.
I am going to feel so awesome about myself when I complete my entire list of resolutions. People will respect me more, love me more, want to be like me, and notice me accomplishing all of these big, impressive goals without missing a beat. #Blessed
We can overfocus on what we’re doing and never ask ourselves who we’re becoming.
Maybe your resolutions involve serving others or giving back to the community. Maybe you set goals to help you grow closer to Jesus — committing to reading the Bible or praying. These are great resolutions and good things. But sometimes we can overfocus on what we’re doing and never ask ourselves who we’re becoming.
Look Past the Disappointment
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good goal setting session. Setting goals and intentions for the year can keep us focused and on the path to success. As a Type A, goal-driven, list-making girl, I live for checking off my to-do list, and the rewarding feeling of a job well done.
But to be honest, sometimes I focus on the to-do list instead of how God wants to use me and teach me. God is more interested in our hearts than our hard-working to-do lists. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God tells us what is most important to Him: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
God wants to use us and teach us, so our hearts can develop a deeper relationship with Him. This should be our focus. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
What if God has more for us this year than just checking off our resolutions? While we are chasing ourselves on the treadmill, are we neglecting the matters of the heart? Are we more focused on getting another rep on the bench press than who we are called to be as Christians? What would it look like if we focused on what’s happening inside of us as much as what’s happening outside of us?
Change Your Focus
Real change comes from focusing on what matters most to God: the condition of our hearts. Sticking to a healthier lifestyle is an awesome goal, but freedom comes from dealing with the cause of our cravings. This will require a different perspective, a willingness to look at more than what we’re doing and to begin to ask: Who are we becoming?
In Colossians 3:5-17, Paul gives us a description of what following Jesus will require of us: forgiveness, thankfulness and gratitude, compassion and kindness, humility, patience, and wisdom. And over all these virtues, we are to put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:14).
Real change comes from focusing on what matters most to God
Then, in a letter to the church in Galatia, Paul explains how we grow in these areas, writing, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Becoming more like Jesus comes from listening to the Holy Spirit and following His direction. If we want to be more patient — Anyone else on that struggle bus? — simply resolving to be more patient won’t get us there. But following the Holy Spirit will. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to be who we aren’t naturally. He guides us into a closer relationship with Jesus. And, He aligns our desires with God’s desires.
Out With the Old, In With the New
The Holy Spirit is waiting for us to be still and listen, so we can become more like Jesus. Are you making room to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to your heart?
While going to the gym, eating healthy, spending quality time with our families, and creating a budget are all great goals to have, let’s make sure we don’t neglect who God has called us to be.