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Encouragement for Resolution-Makers and Resolution-Haters

Dec 30, 2014

Are you the kind of person who makes resolutions or hates resolutions?

Photo Credit: fung.leo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: fung.leo via Compfight cc

In the United States, we’re a divided nation when it comes to resolutions. According to a study released by the University of Scranton in January 2014, 45% of Americans usually make resolutions, 17% do so infrequently and 38% absolutely never make them. Considering 1/3 of Americans watch the Super Bowl each year, more of you are resolution-makers than resolution-haters.

I typically make at least one resolution. I’ve done the whole “word for the year” thing the last couple of years. In 2013, it was “healthy.” In 2014, it was “build.”

I believe in new beginnings. I’m not exactly sure if it is the timing of the calendar, my habit of taking time off work between Christmas and New Years, or the fact that I have preached at my church on the Sunday after Christmas the last two years. In recent years, something stirs in my brain this time of year and I begin considering new beginnings and fresh starts.

I think you should consider some new beginnings too. Even if you are a resolution hater, I think “resolving” can help you take steps towards the life you want and the dreams that lie within your heart.

While I could list many reasons to I believe in new beginnings, four rise to the top. These four reasons motivate me to do things like set goals around New Years, pick a word for the year, reflect on what needs to change from the year that ended, apologize for my mistakes and seize second chances.

I hope they’ll provoke you to take some time to process your life this week and resolve for 2015 and beyond.

1. Our lives have purpose.

I am uncertain of your beliefs about ultimate things – life, death and eternity. But as a follower of Jesus, I believe we were all created with purpose and intention. The Apostle Paul, out of this same perspective, wrote, “For we are his (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

It was not a verse in the Bible that first convinced me that my life had purpose. Two near-death car accidents were sufficient. I’ve written about my first such experience in another article on this site. The second experience came when I t-boned a Toyota Tundra (marketed as the “unflippable truck”) and walked away with some cuts and bruises.

My little car did that!

My little car did that!

Think of the people you know who passed away in 2014. Consider this – you and I – we are still here. Our lives are meant to lived. Let’s take a chance and go for it! We have a reason for being here, today, in this moment.

We have a reason for being here, today, in this moment.

 

2. We serve a God whose mercies are new every morning.

I have a friend who gives me a hard time for posting sunset and sunrise photos on social media. In fact, he will even tweet on an afternoon when the sunset looks extremely promising, writing something like “waiting for my Instagram to explode with sunset pictures.”

I know we blow up my friend’s feed, but I just cannot resist capturing and sharing a great sunrise or sunset! At the end of a day, I pause and think, “well, God gave me the grace to make it through that craziness. It’s done.” And at the beginning of a day, I often say (to myself), “Here goes. Another chance to go at it.”

The prophet Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”

Sunrises and sunsets are reminders that God grants us enough mercy and grace for each day. God does this each…and every day. He offers us new beginnings and the sustenance to enter into and grab ahold of them.

Sunrises and sunsets are reminders that God grants us enough mercy and grace for each day.

 

3. Our success will be more about long-term fidelity than short-term intensity.

During his recent podcast on goal-setting, author and social media expert Michael Hyatt shared that the average person makes the same resolution ten separate times without success.

That stat may bum you out and turn you off from considering new beginnings. Hold on and let me explain.

In my opinion, many of our new beginnings are actually another step towards or a renewed pursuit of a perennial goal. The people who I see succeed and stand up under their success are those who have been working at that for a long time. They have navigated failure, disappointment, rejection and incredible odds in pursuit of their goal. I’ve yet to meet an overnight success who accidentally stumbled into it. Someone may be discovered overnight but rarely is their success a result of a brief burst of energy and commitment.

Many of our new beginnings are actually another step towards or a renewed pursuit of a perennial goal.

If that’s the case, then failure is okay and long-term pursuit is better than simply short-term bursts of passion. Don’t get me wrong – we need those short, intense periods to get us out of a rut or over our fears. But we need a long-term perspective too.

If you’ve struggled with new beginnings (or resolutions) in the past, stop considering them short-term changes (which are destined to fail) and start considering them new attempts and refreshed engagement in a lifelong pursuit.

4. The resurrection of Jesus is proof our failures don’t have to be final, nor fatal.
I firmly believe the linchpin of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus did exit that tomb after being crucified, then He has power over everything, including death. If not, we’re in serious trouble. The Apostle Paul knew this when he wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

The resurrection of Jesus either assures all of us that “our labor is not in vain” or it reminds us that this is all there is and one day, death will defeat us too.

Since I believe the Resurrection is true, I am convinced God is a God of second chances. I believe that who we’ve been doesn’t have to be who will become. What has defined us in the past does not have to limit our future. Following Jesus means anticipating, welcoming and embracing new beginnings. It means letting go of the past as a defining agent in our lives and embracing a hope for the future that is bigger than anything we’ve experienced so far.

So where can we start? Two ideas.

First, write down the places where you’re making a fresh start and what you’re going to do. Michael Hyatt shared some research that verifies the significance of making your new beginning (or pursuit of a new beginning) official in writing.

“Professor Gail Matthews of Dominican University of California did her own study not long ago that confirmed the power of writing down our goals. The study showed a significant improvement in reaching goals when they were written. In fact, just by writing down your goals you are 42 percent more likely to achieve them. Why? Because writing it down brings clarity and declares purpose, and that level of intentionality gives direction to our thoughts and actions even when we’re not fully focused on the goal.”

 

By writing down your goals, you are 42% more likely to achieve them.

 

Second, make sure you get started in the area that matters most.

Whether you’re a resolution hater or maker, I believe you were created to live and achieve an incredible purpose. On the road to fulfilling your purpose, you will need new beginnings, second chances and fresh starts. Let nothing – past failure, unkept resolutions, or your sense of cynicism – to keep you from embracing the opportunity in front of you. Let the sun rise with new mercy today and go for it!

 

Let nothing keep you from embracing the opportunity in front of you.

 

I would love to hear from you. Below, you can comment and share where you’re experiencing a new beginning or embracing a fresh start.

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