New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately they have become synonymous with broken promises and wishful thinking. Most people are embarrassed to confess to them because they fear it will soon be apparent that they have not kept them. But aren’t resolutions for change actually a pretty good idea? In essence they represent the fact that we are not prisoners to our current situation. We do have the freedom to change. When you think about it, that freedom is amazing.
If we are honest, we all know we have things in our lives that, if we were to change them even slightly, we would greatly enhance our life and work. Professional athletes will work for endless hours to improve a skill even slightly. For them, a 1/10 of a second reduction in their time can mean the difference between winning and losing. And that is only concerning sports. What about life? What about our service for God? Are there not changes we could make that would make us more effective in our service for God? Is there not something we could adjust that would make us a better husband or wife, mother or father or friend? What I can’t understand is why so many people are content to remain the way they are.
There are some fundamental problems with traditional New Years resolutions. For one, people aren’t serious about them. The reality is that we don’t really want to change as much as we say we do. There is no real sense of urgency. So, we make a half-hearted effort. But half-hearted efforts rarely, if ever, accomplish anything. At times we want to do something but we don’t make a plan. We assume our desire for change is all that is required. The reality is that: no plan = no change. Third, we don’t like accountability. Weight loss is a great example. Most of us feel like we should lose a few pounds. But few of us will commit to regularly meet with a coach or accountability partner to weigh in and see if we are following through with our commitments. It is amazing what a little accountability can accomplish! Finally, we try to make changes in our own strength. Change is not as easy as it seems! We need God’s help. But Christ, who lives within believers, is more than willing to help us make healthy changes in our life any time we get serious about making them (Galatians 2:20).
Why do I share all of this? Because I truly believe God’s people need to become dissatisfied with their current level of living and ask God to help them go to another level. I have met a number of pastors and Christian leaders over the years. What strikes me about many of them is that they never seem to change. They plod along at the same pace year after year. They don’t see any major advances. They struggle with the same issues every year. Yet they never come to a place where they are fed up with another year of the status quo. Perhaps this is just my issue. But I feel like life is too brief and God’s kingdom too important for me to keep doing the same thing year after year, at the same skill level I have always done it. I believe that because God can take me to another level in my personal and corporate leadership, He should take me to that place.
So how are you entering 2011? Are you essentially entering it the same way you entered 2010? Are you planning on achieving similar results as 2010? Is that adequate? Or, do you have a sense that something exciting and unusual is going to take place this year? Do you expect that the level at which you live and lead will be elevated to a degree you have never experienced before? Finally, if you are going to go to another level this year, you can’t stay the same. What is one thing you could do differently, better, this year, that would enhance everything you do? Identify one thing. Make a plan to do it. Make yourself accountable to someone. Ask God to help you. Then go for it! And may 2011 be the most amazing year you have ever lived.