It's a new year, and that is worth celebrating. The Journal of Clinical Psychology published a study in December of 2012 reporting that of the 45 percent of Americans who make New Year's resolutions, less than half of them follow through past the six month mark. While some may consider this a failed resolution, I personally think that an almost 50 percent follow-through rate is a pretty good result.
The real problem for most of us may be that we don't care to make New Year's resolutions; therefore, we don't have a clear understanding of what we are trying to achieve or accomplish throughout the year. Many times we are charged with being too proactive in our work lives, yet fall prey to becoming reactive in our personal lives. If you don't know where the target is, chances are you'll never hit it.
The key to setting and accomplishing goals for 2014 and beyond can be found in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (ESV)" For the New Year, I propose a set of three goals that will help us all in leading a more meaningful and religiously prosperous life: grow your faith; restore your personal relationship with God; and develop more meaningful, faith-based relationships with others.
Begin by asking yourself these three questions:
1) How do I begin to grow my faith this year?
a. Answer the question, "What is God calling me to do that I can't do on my own strength?" The very definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 tells us that true faith is much bigger than anything we can do or see on our own.
b. Faith also takes shifting the focus away from yourself and onto God and others. This might mean getting involved in local mission projects, signing up for a mission trip at your church, or truly getting involved in your church at a deeper level.
2) How do I begin to restore my relationship with God?
a. Read Luke 11:15-32. Did you notice that the father was watching and waiting for his son to come home? Jesus has been doing the same thing to you. No matter where you have been and no matter what you have done, God's forgiveness is waiting to be graciously given to you. Today is the day to ask for forgiveness, turn towards Him, and run in His direction.
b. Find a strong, gospel-centered church. Find a believer who is a few steps ahead of you who can mentor you in your spiritual life. Fill your iPod with songs which glorify God and keep you focused on Him. But most importantly, tell someone! Let someone else know about this new desire in your heart.
3) How do I begin to develop God-centered, faith-based relationships this year?
a. First, you must realize that you will develop the strongest God-centered, faith-based relationships in God-centered, faith-based places! One place is a church establishment, and another is online. I wouldn't encourage either/or but rather both. Online communities such as Believe.com, a destination designed to help Christians deepen their walk with the Lord as well as fellowship with other believers, can provide great networks for outreach and support. For seeking companionship outside of singles ministries, ChristianMingle, a faith-based online dating community of which I've been an advisory board member since 2007, is also a safe place that has already answered the most important question: "Is this person a Christian?"
b. Online communities such as ChristianMingle provide the opportunity to help you in this process with tools such as the Relationship Readiness Profile. But don't rush things. Be careful and get to know the other person in a safe environment, and be intentional about your time and your questions. Whatever method you choose, be authentic, be safe and bring the glory to God.
2014 is going to be a big year in your life as you set out to establish your goals. Remember, whether you choose to focus on your goals for one month, three months or the entire year, it is much better than not focusing on anything at all. Be proactive, not reactive in 2014!
Statistics found at http://statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/