My wife asked me today what my goals were for the year. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought of it. I typically do not make New Year’s resolutions because they always seem so short-lived.
There are a few things, however, that the Lord has brought to my attention over the past year that I want to emphasize for the coming year.
• Spend at least one hour a day with God. I’ve noticed that I typically spend more than an hour on the computer each day on stuff that has a low “rate of return.” It’s not evil, it’s just idle. My days go so much better when I have quality time with the Lord. Also, I could come up with goals for the New Year that sound great, but aren’t what I’m supposed to be focusing on. I need the time with God to know where I should be spending my time.
God has put things on my heart to do, but I want to operate in His timing and not jump ahead. When Jesus heard that His friend Lazarus was sick, He didn’t go immediately to heal him, He stayed where He was for two days (John 11:3-6). Why didn’t He go right away? The Scripture doesn’t say that He was involved in some important task that He had to complete. It gives no reason at all. Jesus spent regular time with His heavenly Father. My guess is that Jesus was simply in tune with the Father, and the Father told Him to stay two more days before heading out. I want to be like Christ and be in tune with God’s timing.
• Be content with knowing and doing the “What” of God’s will even when I don’t know the “Why” or the “How.” This follows from the point above. When I’ve spent the time with God and have discerned His will, I want to be quick to respond to what He says. I often fall into the “paralysis of analysis” because I overthink God’s will rather than just obey because He says so.
• Be an encourager. First in my family and then to others God has put in my path. The Bible says to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today” (Hebrews 3:13). I received a hand-written note of encouragement in the mail from someone recently and it made my day. (Who hand-writes and uses USPS anymore?) I need to be on the giving end of encouragement more.
• Be a listener. I could avoid a number of problems if I were always “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
• Prioritize relationships over rules. I know I’m a “rules guy” and I play that card too much. I need to get that in order.
• Live within my budget. My wife and I were blessed to have gotten out of debt a few years ago (with the exception of our home mortgage.) Lately, however, we have become somewhat sloppy with our finances because things aren’t as tight as they used to be. We have been hugely helped by following the financial advice of Dave Ramsey and using principles found in his book The Total Money Makeover. We’ve committed to getting back on track by being more hard-nosed about our spending, and looking for ways to increase our income.
Of course God’s grace is needed for all of these areas. I am comforted knowing that He will be with me as I go through this year and beyond.