Every year people make bold New Year’s resolutions that they never can live up to. The goal is to better ourselves but it doesn’t seem to work out. Work out more often, eat better, be nicer to others, go to church more, etc… These goals sound great and all but they are often out of reach because we don’t know how to meet them.
I have never been one to make my own list but I decided to create a fail-proof list this year and share it with you. This list is all about you. It’s not about being selfish but all about making a better you. So, here it goes:
1. Learn to say ‘No’ I grew up as a people pleaser. That means if someone asked me to do something I always said yes. This actually got me in trouble a few times as I got in with the wrong people. However, I have learned the power of saying no over the past few years. It helped me greatly while I was running my own business. I learned to turn down what seemed to be lucrative jobs but what would have stressed me greatly. With that, I began turning a greater profit and was happier. I finally applied this principle to my ministry last year and it too has helped me. People may get mad at you for a short time but they will get over it.
I have seen people in church except everything asked of them and I have seen those same people put church work before God and their own family. Being busy by saying yes to every request doesn’t bring you closer to God. It only burns you out and makes you resentful. This year, learn your limits. When you are at your limit say no to people. This doesn’t mean you are a bad person or are selfish. You just know your limits.
2. Value yourself/Be yourself We all hold value in the eyes of God. Sometimes we forget about that because the world doesn’t value us, or at least we don’t think it does. We allow people to run us over at work and home because we don’t think we hold value. But, you do have value. Whatever your job is you are worth it. Sometimes you deserve more than what you are being paid. Be confident in your value.
You must also value your relationships. You, man or woman, never deserve to be hit by your partner. There is never an excuse for that. You deserve to be fully loved by someone. You don’t deserve to be cheated on or mistreated. You deserve to get the best from your partner. Be confident in your value.
Knowing your value will allow you to be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not. I have tried this in the past to fit in. When I became a Christian I thought I needed to stay away from all my old friends. I tried to fit in with the people who had been Christians their whole life but I just didn’t know how to fit in. I learned that I don’t have to live in the “Christian culture” to be an effective Christian. In fact, I have more of an impact on people’s lives by being myself. Be yourself around everyone you meet. You don’t have to pretend to be someone who you are not. Let people accept you for who you are. If they don’t want to, then it’s their loss.
3. Embrace your weaknesses 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 has been a great help for me. In this passage Paul talks about boasting in his weaknesses. It sounds kind of odd because we want to hide our weaknesses so nobody will exploit us. Paul says the opposite. Why? Because when we are weak then we are strong. God gives us His strength. When we are weak we have no choice but to rely on God. That’s why God doesn’t make us perfect. He doesn’t want us to always rely on ourselves. He wants us to rely on Him so He can show off his great power. Let me give you an example.
I have never liked being the center of attention. It takes me a while to be comfortable around people and open up to them. Go figure that I would be preaching in front of large groups of people. I thought I was doing good. I wrote out my sermons word for word so I won’t mess up. I relied on this so I won’t think about everyone staring at me. I focused on saying what I needed to say as quickly as possible. I thought I was doing a good job until I took a preaching class. My sermons were good but the delivery was not. I learned that the only way to deliver a good sermon was to completely rely on God. I took another preaching class but in this class we had to preach without notes. I was completely terrified. I cannot do that on my own. I had to rely on God. But now I love it. I will never use another manuscript again. I embraced my weakness and God showed out completely.
What is your weakness? Try giving up and giving it over completely to God this year just to see what happens. I bet you God will take over and you will be better than you could ever be on your own.
4. See the world through God’s eyes If you haven’t noticed already these resolutions are related so far. They are all about making a better you through knowing your value and who you are in God’s sight. Now, you also need to see other people in the same light. Value other people and don’t use them for your own gain. Always remember the golden rule: Treat other people the way you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
5. Read your Bible This last one is a little different but it’s still about making a better you. Read you Bible but please don’t sign up for one of those “read your Bible in a year programs.” Why not? They may work for people who are extremely disciplined but won’t work for the casual reader. They seem like a good idea but can make reading your Bible a difficult task. Reading the Bible should not be difficult nor a task. Here’s what happens: you start out the plan excited and determined. You get sick one day or something happens that distracts you and you forget to read the plan for the day. You are now behind so you try to read extra. But you go out-of-town for the weekend and fall further behind. Now you are several days back and don’t have the time to catch up. Might as well give up now because you are not going to get it done this year.
The best way to read the Bible is to just read as much as you can each day. If you only have 5 minutes then that’s all you have. Some days you may have more time so you can read more. The thing is, don’t put a time or content restraint on yourself. Doing so makes reading the Bible a checklist and not a pleasure. So, try to read the Bible every day. If you miss a day, don’t worry just pick up where you left off. I did one Bible reading plan that took me 5 years to complete. (Yes I said 5 years). I read one chapter per day in the Old Testament. When I got to the New Testament I read the same chapter 3 days in a row. Yes, I missed some days. I even missed reading my Bible for a week or more at a time. But I eventually finished. Don’t give up reading you Bible no matter how long it takes and no matter how many times you have read it before; you always learn something new.
So, there it is. My first New Years resolution list. If you have not come up with one feel free to use this one. It’s yours for the taking. May 2015 be better than 2014 and may you grow closer to God. God bless you.