New Year! New You?

For several weeks I’ve been thinking about how I want to be different next year, how I want to be better, and what I want to bring with me into 2021.

Do you set goals or make resolutions? I used to. And they would last until about the third week of January. I know I can be disciplined and include routine in my life, but so many of the things I try to add just don’t stick.

So I began to dig into why. Why don’t they stick? Why can’t I pick goals I can achieve. Goals need to be SMART:

(I couldn’t find a graphic that included everything I wanted to put here, so I made my own—forgive the raw nature, but that’s how I’d teach it.)

Going back over this information, two words stuck out to me: relevant and attractive. This is probably where my goals failed. Realizing this reminded me of when I failed my oral exams for my M.Div. so miserably that they suggested we act as if the horrible showing never happened and schedule to do them again next time around.

Regurgitating information merely to demonstrate an array of facts didn’t work for me. How was I going to figure this out? Then without even knowing smart goals I realized I needed to find a way to make my accumulated knowledge both attractive and relevant.

At the time I was trying to figure this out I was engaged in the learning/training experience called Clinical Pastoral Education, CPE for short. Each quarter (I took 10) I had to identify my learning goals. What did I want to learn? What learning would enhance my skills and move me along in my long range plan?

The way this all worked out, I began to link my learning as being under an overarching theme. Everything began to fall into place, become connected, and make so much sense that when I went in the second time the committee commented on how confident and clear I seemed—two words that never would have described my first time before the committee.

Thinking of that brought me to my lightbulb moment. The goals I had been setting were goals I felt I should set. They were goals that had greater meaning to others than to me, so they were neither relevant or attractive to me, and therefore unsuccessful.

With this awareness, how will I set some goals for this year?

First, what is my appealing over arching theme? I landed on the scriptural call to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Here’s my worksheet so far:

So…I need a little time to live with these, but I’ll be back by Wednesday to let you know how this has developed for me.


Each year I ask God for a theme or word or verse to guide me–sort of my spiritual mission for the year that I seek to hang everything I do. Next year’s word came to me this morning as I was reading: habit. I have a feeling I’ll be addressing some bad habits and creating some good and healthy new ones. I’m especially excited to see how this will fit with my “circle” (heart, soul, mind, and action)

What is a habit: a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality; or an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary (thank you

But I also liked this definition, tucked way down on the list: mid-14c., “to dwell,” from Old French habiter “to dwell, inhabit.

I am certain I want to be “dwelling” more intentionally in the Word. The deacons at our church have challenged the congregation to read through the entire Bible in the coming year. I’ve done it before, but it will be encouraging to know others who are on the same journey.

One of the other areas I intend to develop habits in is exercise. I laid a good foundation in 2014, but I have room to improve. Yesterday Nelson and I watched the video for our new exercise investment: a Bowflex Ultimate2. This is going to be good!

I am making myself accountable, not just by writing it here, but by seeking out accountability partners. Iread an article this morning about the importance of knowing ourselves: our strengths and weaknesses. Without accountability, I am nothing but weakness.

So I have no specific resolutions and no real goals…I just want to focus this year on creating more healthy and holy habits. How about you? What goals or resolutions or themes will guide you through this new year?

My prayer is that no matter what our driving force will be, we will find the courage and strength, the grace and perseverance, to come out at the end of this year in a ways which bring greater glory to the One who will enable us, and a deeper joy and peace with Him, one another, and ourselves.

New Year Joy

Good Morning!

I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’m not going to wish you a “happy” New Year. But that’s because I want so much for you.

No, I think I will wish you a Joyous! New Year.

Hair splitting? Perhaps. But I think happiness is an emotion that is determined by the situation or circumstances. While joy is an outlook or perspective that prevails despite the ups and downs of circumstances.

I am basing this line of thinking on James instruction:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)

Reading this, I wonder if James is referring back to Jesus’ word and giving us a better picture of what Jesus meant: 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)

And just what was Jesus’ joy? It was his absolute surrender to the will of the Father: “. . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross . . .” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .” (Psalm 40:8).

There is nothing easy about joy. But without it life lacks so much…and it would appear to be incomplete.

So in wishing you a joyous New Year, I am hoping you will have the ability to face the things life holds for you and see God at work and rest in the promise that you will have everything that you need.

Let there be joy!

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