I hate New Year’s Resolutions. No, wait, maybe that’s too strong; maybe, I strongly dislike them. Maybe it’s not the idea of the thing but rather that resolutions seem to be too easily broken and discarded. As in, “I’m going to stop drinking Coke,” and then after three days (if we’re lucky), when we go back to drinking Coke, the resolution no longer has any power. So, while I’m always a proponent of positive change, I have a ridiculously strong anti-resolution sentiment.
Resolutions seem to linger around the first of each new year, like we can’t articulate change at any other time of the year. Sure, people work out (or tan) to prepare for their annual beach trip, but why wait? [I went back to the gym on some random day in October because I needed to start working out. Should I have waited until New Year’s Day?] Some people recognize their need for a change in their work schedule, or their spending, or their eating, but again, why wait?
But I like goals.
Goals, someone once wrote on a T-shirt, are made to be broken. Goals aren’t a maintenance of something that once that line is crossed, that it’s over, but are rather the benchmarks by which we lift ourselves from where we are to something better. Goals allow us to shoot for the stars but potentially move from the planet’s core to the sky to the stratosphere to first inkling of space, one stage at a time. Goals aren’t any less because they haven’t been broken yet but when they have been broken, they usually create an opening for more goals to rise up.
So, with that, I present some goals for 2014. If they are helpful to you, please reply below. If they’re not, consider what goals you yourself should be setting for 2014.
I will be more intentional and more disciplined in 2014. I will not treat money or time as disposable commodities but rather as investments for the future. I will invest them for the good of my children, and for the good of the community. In fact, I find myself wondering what it would look like if we each took Matthew 22:36-38 seriously: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'”?
What if we applied it when it came to time? If I am more disciplined about getting my work done, about not wasting time on fleeting pursuits, and instead allow myself to be fully available, would those around me be blessed? Would I have more time for prayer and study, not just for sermon preparation, if I didn’t stay up too late and then find myself oversleeping? If we adopted that perspective, would we see our spouses, our children, and our community differently? What happens if we put down the phrase “just a minute” and picked up instead, “how can I help?”
What if we applied it when it came to finances? What if we didn’t buy our $5 Starbucks when we weren’t really thirsty or didn’t eat out when we could pack a lunch, so that the money could be spent elsewhere? What if we spent dollar for dollar on someone else as we spent a dollar on ourselves? What if we recognized that tithing (however you interpret it) was just the beginning but that all of what we have is God’s and for the blessing of all?
What if we applied it when it came to the good news of Jesus Christ? What if we stopped thinking about how we might be received when we shared our story and instead started thanking God for how we’ve been blessed, and started thinking about how those folks who hadn’t heard would be blessed to?
Sure, I intend to read a book a week, to see films that will challenge me and make me think, to lose the extra ten pounds that have been clinging to me for the last ten years. But ultimately, my goals are more deeply reaching and intense than mere to-do lists and weight check-ins. That doesn’t make them harder or easier, but they are habit changing, life-changing proposals.
Being intentional and disciplined means being more self-aware, more focused. Right now, the goals seem daunting but the rewards look pretty priceless.