I have an aversion to making resolutions for the New Year because, before January comes to an end, most of them end in failure. I have noble intentions; but too often the affairs of life—necessary and sensible as they are—keep interrupting my best-laid plans.
Yet, in spite of such loathing, I face 2012 with a willingness to tackle a set of goals—seven of them, in fact—that fall under one general category. My overarching aim for 2012 is to model my life according to the will of Christ as revealed through His life and teachings. Should I live to see 2013, and if Jesus has not returned by that time, the seven points that follow articulate Spirit-driven improvements in my life that I wish to realize during the next 366 days.
I want to consistently start each day with prayer (Mark 1:35). It remains the dirty little secret that although we, as ministers, deal with the holy on a daily basis, some of us still struggle to secure meaningful and beneficial time for prayer. We’re not hypocrites—praying professionally and ignoring the power thereof when no one watches. Rather, often we become so busy attending to the needs of church members and church business that slowly and imperceptibly we neglect our own well-being.
Most mornings upon waking up, I go to my home office and after worshiping and adoring God, I pray through my ever-growing list of concerns: myself, family, colleagues near and far, pressing issues, as examples. But occasionally I skimp on the time I give to God—rushing to attend to other personal and professional issues that appear urgent. I wish to model my prayer life after that of Christ.
I want to consistently face life’s battles with the Word (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). My greatest victories come when I have fortified myself with quality time in personal Bible study. I can easily trace my dumbest decisions to neglect of the same.
But I have also discovered that the answers to some of my simplest predicaments come by reflecting upon the life experiences of other frail souls in Scripture. Through studying these people, I have gained wisdom that I have been able to not only appropriate to myself during my own spiritual pilgrimage, but pass along to my children and others who seek wisdom. As did Jesus in the wilderness, I want to govern my life with an “it is written.”
I want to know God for myself (John 17:3). With each passing week, my wife and I learn things about each other that we didn’t know—after almost 25 years of marriage. Such an experience deepens our love and respect for each other.
Prayer and Bible study enable me to better understand God. Especially in 2012, I want to better comprehend how incredibly loving and gracious He has been—and continues to be—toward me.
I want to be a shining light for others (Matt. 5:14–16). Too much light in a room blinds those who wish to see, while too little light fails to illuminate what needs to be seen. As an ambassador for Christ, I neither want to overwhelm others with God-talk nor be secretive so that no one discerns a difference between me and others. I wish to live a life that brings glory to my heavenly Father, impressing others to want to get to know Him for themselves.
I want to honor, respect, and uplift others (Matt. 7:12). This can be a bigger challenge for me than I sometimes wish to acknowledge because it becomes easy to grow bitter in the face of multitudinous slights. But Jesus, who bore more unjust indignities than I could ever imagine, bids me to treat others as I wish to be treated—keeping in mind that so many others have treated me marvelously, and that He Himself has been infinitely gracious to me. I wish to model my relationships with others after how Christ relates to me.
I want to live in the atmosphere of God’s peace, regardless of my circumstances (John 16:33). I grow weary of always having to address one issue after another: household repairs, incorrect billing from a service provider, and sometimes far more consequential matters such as ruffled interpersonal relations or physical duress.
But God promises me peace when I keep my mind focused upon Him (see Isa. 26:3). Maintaining a trustful walk with Him places life’s events in perspective. I wish to model such a walk after the one Jesus had with His heavenly Father.
Finally, I want to live in eager expectation of His return (Matt. 24:42, 44; 25:13). As a child, I imagined Jesus walking and talking with me at all times. As an adult, I (sad to say) don’t always imagine Jesus in the room with me. I want to again see myself in His presence, before His throne, for eternity. I want to experience the prayer of Jesus, to be with Him where He is and see His glory (see John 17:24).
What are your goals for 2012? Whatever they are, I pray that you will build them upon the foundation of God’s will for your life.