I’m a big fan of goals and new year’s resolutions. Yet I know people who see it as a waste of time. A few years back, Dr. Bill Thrasher encouraged his students (me being one of them) to offer the Lord the first fruits of our year. He also encouraged us to seek the Lord’s direction as far as what He desired for us that year. Being accomplishment driven, I had always set goals. Yet I found his advice encouraging as a way to take the view off of myself and to focus on the Lord.
I personally set goals more as prayer lists now. I do this more as a way to focus my energy and time as opposed to a way to ensure I accomplish a lot. The goal of setting goals isn’t to necessarily complete them all, but to give me a starting place for what I should try for and attempt to accomplish or set my mind to each year. Obviously, many times these goals come as promptings from the Lord as things I think He may be leading me to do that I need to prioritize.
For example, one year I decided to study end times. Another year, I wanted to finish a novel series, and I happened to start reading The Chronicles of Narnia that year—which I actually didn’t finish until a year or two later. This past year, I felt the Lord leading me to study more about Roman history so that I could better understand the culture into which Jesus lived. I ordered a couple books on the topic and while I actually did not finish either book, I read enough to say I have a basic understanding of the culture during the Roman empire.
This next year, one thing I would like to do, goal-wise, will be to study a bit more about church history and specifically the protestant reformation. That will probably involve reading a few books on the topic and/or watching some documentaries etc.
Another idea is to settle on a word. For nearly a decade now, I have prayed and settled on a word to help me focus my walk with the Lord each year. In 2007, I had the word, “trust” as I trusted the Lord that year to help me travel to India, graduate college, and figure out what was next in my life. In 2014 I had the word “behold” as I focused on what it meant to behold Christ as my Savior. Another year I studied and prayed for the Lord to make me more “holy” as my word of the year. For those who find new years’ resolutions overwhelming, it might be good to consider a word to focus on or seek out the meaning of in the coming year.
Dr. Thrasher also encourages people to take three prayers to the Lord each year. In other words, we could be specifically focusing our prayer life that year on three specific things. As I personally think about that, I believe one of my prayers will be to live a more disciplined and scheduled life. With a baby coming soon, we want our child, and ourselves, to live on a better schedule. Along with that, I would like to personally get into a more regular cleaning schedule for cleaning our house. Another prayer request may be for a friend who has been trying for years to change something without success.
Some people have very lofty goals, like writing a blog in the new year with so many posts per week (ie: myself). Yet others, vaguer, like to simply become godlier. Whatever your view of goals and new years’ resolutions, it’s at least worth taking to the Lord to see if He has anything special He’d like you to focus on this year.
For more ideas, check out Dr. Bill Thrasher’s book Putting God Back in the Holidays and his section on New Year’s.