Resolutions and goals. That’s what people talk about at the start of every year. It’s a kick in the pants for people to lose weight, cut the bad habits, and finally accomplish that dream. But by March, we are back in the routine of yesteryear.
For years, I’ve given the interns in our youth ministry a plan on how to set goals and truly achieve something special each year, and more so to see it accomplished before your eyes. But it dispels of the trivial habits and “goals” we commonly set for ourselves—believing that if we instead change our character, we will achieve far more.
Heretofore are the three goals I set for myself, or rather, base my goals upon so that I see them come to pass, and ones that I have seen form considerable fruit.
The first is to set a physical goal that can be attained or manifested before your eyes. This perhaps is the most selfish of the three goals because it solely exists to make one “feel” accomplished at the end of the year. Regardless, it is wholesome and noble to do so; as working diligent is part of our design. It should be something grand, but not impossible. And only one goal. And make it something related to a dream or occupation. An example would be: “This year, I will publish a book”, or “finish my manuscript”, or “make that website, album, gain such-and-such amount of clients, finally build that chair, barn, or house.” These should be physical goals that, if you put all your effort into, you should achieve. Whether it’s by March of this year, the middle of August, or at the last stroke of New Year’s Eve, 2023. It doesn’t matter when. Just accomplish it so that you can look back upon this year in the next, and smile knowing you gained that dream of yours.
The second is about our relationship with the Lord. All our lives should be centered on the simple cycle of Reading the Word, Worshipping His glory, and Praying to our Father. Yet each of these areas may wane or wax depending on our circumstance, and these things we can attest need to be greater. Instead of chasing after all three, set a goal to foster and bolster one of these areas. And ask the Lord which He believes you should go after. It could be the Word. (i.e. “I will read a chapter of the Gospels a day”, “read the New Testament four times this year”, or “read the entire Bible”). It could be Worship. (i.e. “I will take fifteen minutes out of each day to worship”, “I will learn to play an instrument and sing to my Father”, or “I will set aside three hours, one night a week, to do nothing but sing to the Lord”.) It could be Prayer. (i.e. “I will start and end my day with prayer”, “I will intercessory pray for three hours each week”, or both.) All of these should be dedicated time that is above and beyond your normal routine. The point is that you are giving more of your soul to being alone with the Lord. Thus, you will strengthen your relationship with Him, and in so doing, the other areas will grow as well.
The third is about achieving the character of Christ. We all agree that we suck and cannot live up to His standards daily (some of us hourly). And there are endless characteristics we need to grow in. (i.e. generosity, serving, prayer, laughter, hope, faith, faithfulness, healing, loving others, thinking the best, prophecy, being an intentional parent, and on and on and on.) But instead of feeling helpless to grow in all of them, set your sights on one. Become more generous than you ever have this year. Or serve others more than ever before. Or love others more than ever before.
Instead of trying to rework your entire life, chase after one physical goal, chase after strengthening your relationship with God, and become more like Christ in one area. Odds are you can nail it. And if you don’t—well, what does that even mean? How can you fail at trying to strengthen your relationship with God or becoming more like Christ? I suppose you may fail at “publishing your book”, but that pales in comparison to the former two.
This year, for my family, is a year of “Recharge”. But I’ll give you the Word from the Lord as well, that it might strengthen and inspire you.
It began as a sort of joke from the Lord. I may tell the story of how that came to be another time, but for now, just know that God showed us again and again that batteries around us were dying and it was time for a recharge.
The etymology of the word is very fuzzy because of how the prefix “re” has been watered down for the last six hundred years. But the word “re” was initially a French word (c. 1200) meaning “again; back; anew (different and better), against.”
In a sense, to “return to its original design”, “to birth something new”, and “to prepare for the opposition”. A word that hid in redact, redeem, redolent, redundant, and render. But later was changed in meaning by words like receive, recommend, recover, refer, and require.
Whereas the word charge was initially (13th century) a word meaning “to load, put a burden on or in; fill with something to be retained”, and later in the 16th century “to load a weapon”.
Bringing these words together, I believe God was telling us that He intends to “do again”, “bring us back to our original design” and “load us up” for something “different and better”. We are walking into the future, and in it we will find what was our original purpose.
If that word speaks to you, fantastic. If not, I don’t care otherwise, though I suppose I hope you chase after what He is telling you. Because I know that God intends for you to move forward. Take these steps of writing down and aiming at a tangible goal and becoming more like Him and spending time with Him. Those are noble goals, worth achieving, and able to accomplish. All the other stuff of breaking habits and losing weight will take care of themselves if you aim at those deeper things instead.
Glory to God and enjoy your Twenty-Twenty-Three.