As I type this, there are only about 7 weeks left in 2013. That’s hard to believe, especially since it takes me until November to really get used to the “new” year. (I still think it’s 2012 sometimes.) By the time I can remember what year we’re in, it’s time to change again.
So 2014 is right around the corner. That means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. But most people’s resolutions don’t stick for very long. Usually it’s because of resolutions that are either really difficult or really big. And after a few weeks, if things aren’t as different or better as you’d hoped, it’s discouraging, so we give it up.
But instead of having one big goal in mind, what if we resolved to have a different mindset? For example, popular resolutions involve health and fitness. Let’s say your resolutions are things like, “I’m going to exercise X minutes a week” or “eat only X amount of calories a day.” If you don’t reach your benchmark soon, then it’s tempting to say, “I couldn’t do it. I’m a failure. I’ll just give up.”
But what if your resolutions were things like, “I’m going to eat healthier” or “be more active”? Then, even if progress is slow at first, you’re still working toward your goal. You won’t be discouraged by failure, you’re more likely to stick with changes you make, and you’ll enjoy greater changes over time. As long as you can say, “Yes, I’m working on it,” then even periods when you don’t have the energy to work very hard, you’re still moving forward.
Now let’s translate that to spiritual issues. Many people begin Bible reading or devotional time regimens, only to quit midway because they couldn’t keep up. If you say, “I’m going to read X number of Bible chapters a day” or “spend X minutes a day praying,” then when you hit a busy period and don’t reach that benchmark, discouragement sets in. Instead, resolve to have a different mindset. Decide things like, “I’m going to study the Bible more” or “spend more time in prayer and meditation” or “be more active in church.” Then keep that direction in your head, and do things that work toward it.
Successful resolutions involve deciding on a direction first, with specific actions determined later. As long as you’re heading in the right direction—even when you get slowed down—you’re still following your resolution. And as you go, you will be better able to figure out what specific action goals to set.
Now let’s apply that to our church. What should our church’s New Year’s resolutions be? And remember, don’t pick specific amounts yet—”X number of people” or “X amount of funds”—first let’s determine our direction. What will our guiding mindset be? Where do we want to go? Once we’re on the way there, God will reveal the specifics.
On Wednesdays, around the end of November and beginning of December, we’re going to brainstorm and come up with a Mission Statement for our church. We’ll think about who we are, what we do, and what we want to do; then we’ll start drafting a statement to encapsulate what direction we want to go. From then on, whatever the progress, results, or numbers are, we can always know that we are walking in the direction of our mission.
Grace and peace,