One of the things each new year brings to mind is our personal deficiencies, both real and perceived. We find ourselves making New Year’s resolutions in an attempt to correct things in our lives we find discouraging or distasteful. Some resolve to lose weight, others resolve to spend more time with family, kick their tobacco habit, exercise more, read more, or any number of other things we think would improve our lives or health. When kept, these resolutions have the intended effect of making us feel better about ourselves and the way others view us.
The harsh reality is that most of us fail to keep our New Year’s resolutions. A leading research group found that less than 10% of people who make New Year actually keep them. The top four reasons for failure are:
- Lack of Self-Discipline
- No Plan to Succeed
- No Support from Others.
Here are some suggestions to help you.
Start TODAY! There is no time like the present. Delay is a recipe for failure (Luke 9:59-62). Write down your resolutions. As you list each one, write down why you are making the resolution and what you must do (and not do) to accomplish it. Write down the benefits of keeping each resolution. Write down how you will feel about yourself when you reach your goal. Taking time to compose such a list is the first step in overcoming a lack of self-discipline.
Find a friend who is making resolutions and talk to one another about your goals. Make sure you both have reasonable goals, a reasonable plan, and a reasonable timetable for success. Trying to lose 30 lbs in two weeks is unreasonable (Luke 14:28-32).
Work together with your friend to hold one another accountable. Set aside a time to talk each day or each week to discuss your progress. For example, if you both resolve to read the New Testament through this year, set aside a time each day or week to discuss the text you are supposed to read. There’s nothing like good positive peer pressure to help you reach your goals!
Let me offer this suggestion. Along with all these other things, why not consider making the following spiritual resolutions…
- I resolve to be in attendance for every Bible Study and worship service.
- I resolve to read my Bible from Genesis to Revelation this year.
- I resolve to learn book, chapter, and verse for each step in the plan of salvation.
- I resolve to convert someone to Jesus Christ this year.
- I resolve to spend more time in prayer each day.
- I resolve to live more faithfully every day as a child of God.
These are things which will certainly make us better people, will help us to gain a healthy self-respect and will make others think more highly of us both as individuals and as a congregation of God’s people.
When asked to define faithful attendance at worship, one preacher replied: “All I ask is that we apply the same standards of faithfulness to our church activities that we would in other areas of our life. If your car started one out of three times, would you consider that faithful? If the mailman failed to deliver your mail once a week, would you call the post office and complain or demand an explanation for the lack of service? If you missed one day of work every week, would your boss consider you a faithful employee? If your water heater gave you a cold shower once a week, would you consider replacing it? If you make 11 mortgage or car payments out of 12 due each year, would the lender say, ‘Oh well, 11 out of 12 ain’t bad?’ If your spouse only had one extra-marital affair each year, would you consider him/her faithful?”
Brethren, let’s try to be more consistent in our attitudes toward Christian service. If we demand faithfulness in all these areas, why would we think God demands any less?