All that is left of Christmas are happy family and church memories…and the makings of a pot of soup. Oh, and too much chocolate! We’ll soon be taking down the Christmas decorations and storing them for next year. We’re beginning to mark up a new calendar. It’s time to look seriously at the New Year ahead. Resolutions anyone?
How does it go? I resolve to eat less, to exercise more, to be kinder, more generous, and to pray more. Resolutions are easy to make but easier to forget. Easier still to break. And yet we need to do something. Without laying out a path for the New Year, we may end up with a year of zeroes. Nothing important accomplished. No progress in our Christian life. Relationships stalled.
For this reason, at New Years, I make up a list of goals—not really too different from resolutions. In my mind at least, resolutions have a make or break quality while goals define a direction. Even if we don’t move very far in the goal’s direction, we will make progress.
For that reason, I write the current year’s list of goals on a three by five card which I keep in the front pocket of my diary. By checking it occasionally, I can gauge my progress.
Goals give me a sense of direction, defining for me areas where I want to improve. So I set goals in the areas of, for example, reading, Bible study, prayer, exercise, writing, developing relationships, hospitality, ministry, etc.
Since my goals, although fairly general, are somewhat measurable, I can tell if I’m making progress. For example, my goal is to read one non-fiction book for every three or four books of fiction I read. Since I love entertaining stories, that’s a hard one, but I do keep a careful record of the books I read on Goodreads.
My objective to walk at least 30 minutes a day, four days a week has had to be curtailed due to arthritis. But I can still set a walking goal that is realistic.
Every New Years I modify my prayer list to fit new goals. Some aims are ill-defined early in the year, but become clarified as the year advances. A degree of flexibility is important. At this point, I’m not sure how far I’ll get with writing my memoir, Surprises of Grace, but I must have a goal or I’ll just vegetate.
As a Christian, my main goal is to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. How do I measure that? Galatians 5:22,23 and other passages can give me help here. Of course, every day we need a balance between striving to please God with the help of His Spirit and resting in His grace. After all we are still sinners taking the cure. If we are saved, it’s not because of our righteousness but the perfect righteousness of Christ. Pride in our goals will sully our walk. But having no goals doesn’t strike me as very wise. What do you think?
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