For many of us, the end of a year brings many things: questions, evaluations of the previous year, resolutions. Why do we make New Year’s resolutions?
As a youngster, I remember older people bemoaning the passage of time. I thought they were crazy, but I understand now. It seems just yesterday I was excited to get my driver’s license and lamented high school graduation’s slow trudge toward me. Now each year passes quicker than the last. And some years are more difficult than others. When we’re reminded, after a particularly hard year, it’s easy to get caught up in the “this is the year” mentality.
Yet we know in the backs of our minds New Year’s resolutions rarely last. I don’t have to give statistics. We’ve all made some kind of resolution in December or January only to forget or ditch them a few weeks later.
Why do New Year’s resolutions rarely work?
It seems no matter how resolute we are when we make them, we can’t keep them. You’ll get a different answer depending on where you look as to the reason: psychology, root behavior, lack of setting attainable goals, and so on. I think the answer can be found somewhere else.
Every resolution I’ve ever heard – dieting, running, eating healthy, reading a book a month – centers on the self. Well, what else would a resolution be about? After all, I’m the only one I can do anything about, right? That’s not necessarily true. The flaw can be found when we ask ourselves what our purpose is.
1 Peter 4:10 & 11 says:
My purpose – here on earth – is to serve God, and I do that best by serving others. Jesus himself, God of the universe, left heaven to live a life of service.
Mark 10:45 says:
How do we make resolutions that fit our purpose?
I think the key here can be found back in the verse from 1 Peter: each of us has been given a special gift. We must first learn what our gifts are to use them effectively (see the infographic below for spiritual gifts listed in the Bible). If you don’t know yours, here’s a link to a test that will help you figure it out. In my experience, though, a lot can be said for thought and observation. You may already know your gift if you think about it. Do you love to spend time with youngsters, passing on any tidbits you can to them? Maybe you have the gift of teaching. Do you always find yourself working behind the scenes doing the work no one else wants? Maybe you’re specially equipped for service.
We also have talents apart from our spiritual gifts – singing, writing, playing a sport or instrument. Like anything we have in life, these are given to us by God, and they should be used in service to Him. To do anything less would be a waste. I think what makes talents most effective is the intersection with our spiritual gifts. Take me for example. My gift is encouragement and the talent I work to hone is writing. Through the intersection of my gift and talent, I’ve created this blog. I’m no Paul or John, but God tells me through His Word that He will use me despite my deficiencies. In fact, it’s my deficiencies that shine His glory the brightest just as Paul’s did for him.
What is your spiritual gift? What’s your talent, and how might the two intersect? Take this information into the new year with you. I can’t tell you what resolutions to make. That’s a decision you’ll have to make with God. I do encourage you to make eternally minded ones. Dieting and exercise won’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but any heart we influence for the kingdom of God will. That will stand the test of time. If you have a good understanding already, ask yourself how you can improve.
As for me, if you’re curious, I plan to pursue my purpose heartily. My purpose is to write, and to do so as an encouragement to others. I’ll be posting more often – hopefully every two weeks – and spending more time with my other writing projects in between.
I would love to know your resolutions. What is God leading you to this year? Let me know in the comments.
If you’re reading this, and you haven’t accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do that now. A good resolution for you would be to start the new year as a child of God willing to devote your life to Him. Take a look at this awesome music video by Jamie Grace. In the beginning, Johnny Cash’s sister is talking about a conversation she had with him. I love it, and I think you will, too.