It’s almost the New Year, and the stereotypically clichéd thing to do at the end of the year is to make New Year’s resolutions.
And – to be frank – that’s not a bad idea.
Just because 98% of people will fail to keep their resolutions into the New Year, doesn’t mean that resolutions are bad or worthless. Think about the other amazing things 98% of Americans either don’t do or regularly fail at.
And doesn’t it make sense that intentional, God-loving people would develop a plan for the new year? The key isn’t making or not making resolutions, the “key” is actually more like a trident – three points all necessary to make your resolutions part of who you are.
So, today we’re going to talk about those three things necessary to successfully implementing your resolutions, but more importantly, we’re going to discuss the types of resolutions intentional, followers of Christ should be making. So, let’s start with our New Year’s Trident . . .
As you know, a trident is a three-pronged spear. Generally the middle prong is longer than the others, otherwise it looks more like a pitchfork, and that’s not nearly cool enough for our illustration.
So, observe the trident on the right and notice that the left prong is called “Content.” This prong is absolutely necessary in successfully implementing your resolutions because it deals with what your resolving. We’ll discuss the specific content of your resolutions later, but for now, keep in mind that your resolutions will be very hard to keep if your content is mediocre. Resolutions like “I resolve to go to church more.” is too vague. “As a family, we want to read more this year” is not only vague but hard for school-age kids to get behind because, due to school, they generally read way more than mom and dad. Then there’re the ones that few people will be able to accomplish: “This year we resolve to do more world travel.”
So whether it’s too vague, too inapplicable, or too unachievable, the content of your resolutions will either set you up for success or failure.
Now check out right prong of your trident. This prong is called “Communication.” Many resolutions fail or are forgotten because we write them on a slip of paper and drop them in a jar, or after a month we’re having a hard time remembering the monstrous list we scribbled during that burst of New Year adrenaline, and we wouldn’t even know where to start looking for it. It may be on a desk or nailed to the front door of a church somewhere.
Where I work, at Victory Academy for Boys, I post a lot of things on our walls. This includes schedules, reminders, quotes, and three or four copies of “The Communication House.” And I do this so the boys have it in front of their eyes all the time.
I regularly encourage people to write a keyword on their mirrors, or put a white board in a prominent place in their rooms so they can keep their goals easy to see. You can tape a message to your desk, staple a note to the bottom of your children’s bunk bed, or paint a masterpiece designed to metaphorically remind you of your resolutions. Much of the art and decorations in our house are just that. I once commissioned a painting from my friend, Cory Godbey, for my wife to remind us of the importance of contentment. It’s a watercolor of a little girl pulling a phone booth in a wagon. Everyone looking on in the background is carrying the newest and smallest phones on the market, but the girl with the wagon has her head held high with a look of joyous contentment on her face.
We also have a lot of Tree decor around the house. We’re constantly discussing the importance of spiritual growth and fruit. The tree images help to remind us of that all year long. Of course, your art doesn’t have to be metaphorical. Many people have actual Bible verses artistically displayed on their walls and door frames and even the ceilings above their beds.
And it’s important to note that the necessity of reminders is discussed all throughout the Bible. Joshua 4:21 gives us an example of the Israelites going through a lot of trouble to construct a visual reminder of God’s grace and love – a memori so significant it was designed to be standing long after the builders died. Nehemiah 9:17 gives us a sad view of people who allowed themselves to forget God’s works, and Peter tells us in II Peter 1:15 that knowing he would die soon, he worked very hard to give the people things they could remember once he was gone. Peter’s also the one to tell us II Peter 2:12 that he would “always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them.” Being reminded of what we already know is indispensable.
So, in order to successfully implement our family’s resolutions, we need to have worthy Content that is clearly Communicated throughout the day by auditory reminders and visual cues.
Now, the final and central prong of our Resolution Spearing Trident is called “Character.” You see, when we’re honest with ourselves we observe that at the root of nearly every failed resolution is our own poor character. I didn’t lose those twenty pounds because I lacked self-control. I didn’t speak more lovingly to my children because in the moment I kept defaulting to my own selfishness. I didn’t get that raise because my work ethic needed more attention than my client list.
Your ability to lift an object is in direct proportion to the strength of your muscles. Our resolutions should be challenging – otherwise we likely would already be doing them. So, it’s okay that your goals are heavy. But it’s the regular working out of your spiritual muscles that will enable you to lift that goal and make it part of your daily life. The problem is that addressing our character is for more difficult than addressing our resolutions. There are a plethora of resolutions each of our families could make that would be extremely achievable . . . if the individuals in our homes cared enough about God and His Word.
So, those are the three “C’s” of successful growing this year. Create solid, achievable Content, make sure to consistently Communicate your goals to yourself and your family every day of the year, and make sure you focus on your Character first, because without a Christ-honoring, God-trusting, Spirit-following heart, you’ll never be biblically successful at anything worthwhile.
Now let’s address our final thought: What types of things should you resolve this year? What should your Content be?
Well, our Trident gives us a fantastic starting place. You could simply resolve to use the Trident. Share this podcast with your whole family and premeditatedly discuss with them the best goals for the house. Resolve that whatever resolutions you come up with will be consistently and clearly communicated in such a way that everyone can have the goals ever before them. Because – honestly – if it’s not important to always be working toward, why make it a resolution in the first place? And – to officially start our lists – the first of our New Years’ resolutions need to be our own character.
But don’t be vague. Consider each yourself or your family members and discuss what’s needed to help each our you become more like Christ. That might involve more church attendance, or accountability in spending time with God in the morning, or family devotions, or a verse memory program, or just a dedication from mom and dad to seek help in their parenting and a promise from the kids to genuinely get help for their childrening. We’ll all go much farther once we understand what the Proverbs are talking about when they say there’s “wisdom in a multitude of counselors.”
Okay, so first on your list is a rededication to Character and implementing the New Years’ Trident. Okay, what now? Well, it would be foolish and irresponsible for me to give you too many specific examples because I don’t know your family, and the best resolutions aren’t just specific, they’re family specific. So, let me finish off by giving you some categories of resolutions your family should consider.
Number one: spiritual growth. We’ve already talked about that, and the internet is filled with this subject, so for now so let’s move on.
Number two: personal enrichment. God has miraculously given us the ability to learn, the command to learn, and the power to learn. If we’re not growing in our abilities and talents this year, we’re wasting God’s blessings.
This reminder had a huge impact on my family this year. It all started with my kids signing up for gymnastics and starting their training in the martial arts. Then my wife’s friend bought herself a penny whistle. This – among other things – inspired my wife to get herself one. Then she bought one for each of the kids. In a few weeks we played a special in church. The tin whistle then re-inspired my wife to double-down on the kids piano lessons. This eventually lead to me learning to play the piano because I saw how successful the kids were and how easy it seemed. This encouraged me to break out my violin (which I hadn’t played in over a decade), polish up on my playing, and eventually start the kids on violin lessons as a Christmas present. Of course, that reminded me of a number of other skills I’d let slide over the years, and so as a family we also redoubled our efforts in the martial arts which we’d gotten lazy in because of general busyness. Eventually, everyone in the family also took up crocheting and knitting due to a family friend showing my daughter the basics, and my wife – who’s always wanted to paint – was inspired by the wave of personal-enrichment flowing through our home to finally buy some canvases and try her hand at it. Well, of course, as you can imagine, the whole family has been learning to paint.
The point is this. Though my story may sound insane, and you may be tempted to dismiss it because you’re convinced that my family is “abnormal” or just “one-of-those-families,” or you’re now convinced that we were able to do all those things because we “have a lot of money.” Well, you’d be 100%, totally, and completely wrong. We’re just a normal family with a below-average income. The only thing besides supplies that we paid for was the first thing on the list – gymnastics lessons. But the music lessons and martial arts and painting and textiles are a result of us teaching ourselves. You see, it’s simply a question of priorities, and any family can do it.
We’re praising the Lord that after eleven years of marriage and two kids, we’re finally seeing how much time we used to waste and how much we’re able to accomplish when we have good goals. All we want to do is help you see it too!
So, first make resolutions to help you grow in Chirstlikeness. Second, figure out a couple of family-specific ways you can all grow personally. It may be sports, or music, or academics, or art, or agriculture, or speech – it doesn’t matter. Pick some things.
Number three: financial management. Everyone in your home should definitely make some fiscal resolutions. I was once again convicted by reading the account of Joseph. Have you ever realized that for seven years Joseph took only 20% of the harvest? The Egyptians took the other 80%. Then over the seven years of plenty and by the end of the first year of famine, the Egyptians had consumed all of the 80%! But Joseph was able to sustain the entire country and most of the known world for six more years with just the 20%. Wow! You see, few of us actually need to make more money. Honestly, if I told you how much I made, you’d blush because you might have been tempted to think we have a lot of money. We’re not talking about the quantity of saving, we’re talking about the quality of spending.
Earlier I wrote an article on wastefulness because it’s so sad how many God-given blessings we throw in the garbage. I’d encourage you to read it here. Every family needs to reconsider their spending.
Number Four: health and wellness. One of the greatest gifts we squander is our health. Now, I’m not going to tell you what you need to start eating, or applying, or taking, or doing. The first and most important resolution in this category needs to be the resolution to research your current way of living and eating. Many of us make terrible health choices in our eating simply because that’s the way we and everyone we know have always done it.
When my wife and I were married, I knew my lifestyle was very different from hers. But instead of telling her it was my-way-or-the-highway, I encouraged her to research our differences; look at them from all sides. It wasn’t long before my wife was making better health choices than I! It was amazing the things I started learning from her. I Corinthians 10:31 says that whether we’re eating or drinking (two of the most basic bodily functions) we need to do them all to the glory of God. We can’t do that if we’re eating and drinking ignorantly because it’s impossible to accidentally glorify God. So, let’s be intentional this year with the gift of life.
And that’s it.
Even if you make just one personal resolution in each of those categories, you’ll be focusing on the most important things in your life: spiritually conforming to God’s Word, exercising your skills and abilities, wisely spending and saving your money, and sustaining your health and wellness.
Here’s a final breakdown of how to Plan for a Successful New Year:
First: Make sure your resolutions have good content. Make specific, detailed, and attainable resolutions in the following categories: spirituality, enrichment, finances, and wellness
Second: Communicate your resolutions on a daily basis. This can and should be done verbally, but filling your living and workspaces with visual cues is vital to actually implementing your goals.
Third: Make your Character the main focus. You won’t grow this year if you’re not washing yourself in the Word and walking by Its light.
If you’d like assistance creating family specific resolutions, please contact us at Counselor@EvermindMinistries.com.