Just before the close of each year, I like to spend a little time reviewing it according to the vision, goals, and objectives set the previous January. This year, I’m happy to report that I met most of my goals. There are several reasons for my success. First of all, I tossed out the whole idea of new year resolutions a long time ago. Surely I understand by now that there is nothing worthwhile I can accomplish in my own power, no matter how sincerely I may resolve to do so, yet, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). God empowers us to do His will, therefore the place at which to begin is with God himself. With that in mind, I changed my entire approach:
- I spent time with God in prayer and petition, seeking His will;
- I formed goals based on the principles of His Word, not on a self-centered wish-list or worldly idea of perfection;
- I refrained from merely creating a depressing list of my faults, and
- I focused on goals and measurable objectives that were challenging, but not impossible.
The question to ask before committing your goals to paper is not, “What do I want?”, but, “What do You want?” I found that by putting God first, the goals He set were not burdensome. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29:30, NIV). This can also be summarized by Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
Unsure how to recognize God’s voice? Make your goal this coming year to know Him better. The more intimately acquainted you are with God, the better you will discern between His voice and your own or that of the enemy. “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice“ (John 10:4).
Keep in mind that the spiritual maturing process won’t be over any time soon: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Develop goals that you are actually able to meet in a single year. Instead of saying you’ll lose 50 pounds and never eat cake again, why don’t you start with something a bit more realistic, like asking God to use this year to help you understand what is behind your overeating and under-exercising.
Finally, focus on the growth God wants to bring about. Matthew 21:22 says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” This is because you are asking according to His will, not your own. More than that, it is because in offering yourself fully to God as a living sacrifice your mind is renewed. You – and your will – are transformed (Romans 12:1-2) into the image of Christ. Remain watchful, therefore, for your answer will come … in God’s timing, according to His ways. After all, whom do you really desire to be the lord of your life – yourself or God?
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:19-21).