One of the great things about a New Year is the overwhelming sense of possibility. It’s a time we all get to reorder, prioritize, and redefine what and who is most important in our lives. After a pretty contentious and challenging holiday season, I’m ready to start fresh.
The Biblical truth the New Year reminds me of is God’s grace as a loving Father. I do things that I know break His heart. I sometimes sin purposefully and subconsciously, yet He’s never done with me. He’s always awaiting my return with open arms of forgiveness. He also disciplines so I can learn from my mistakes. But He never abandons me.
So stepping into the New Year with a list of goals, hopes, changes and dreams, there are a few things God has impressed upon my heart to remember.
Counting the Costs
Considering what will be required from us to reach our goals, hopes, and dreams is essential to reaching our destinations. The old adage “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is a reminder to count the cost of every decision in 2018. This is wisdom. Jesus commands counting the cost from all who desire to follow him before they actually do. What is worth sacrificing to follow Jesus? Everything. But what are we truly willing to give up in exchange for following him is the question he beckons us to ask ourselves.
So the same is true for our other goals. Whether reading through the Bible in a year, spending more time with family, or serving our communities, it is wise to consider what we’re exchanging for these things. Am I willing to sacrifice Super Bowl parties, passing up on upgrading my Apple Watch, or not eating out with friends to reach some of my goals?
One Task At a Time
As we count the cost, it’s also just as important to keep the main thing the main thing. I am often consumed with thoughts about the next two or three tasks and ideas I have next on my schedule while performing other duties. So instead of successfully tackling the tasks ahead of me, I sometimes become more anxious and freeze in overwhelming waves of anxiety about getting everything done.
Jesus recognized and lamented the overwhelming weight of sin, but he didn’t try managing every problem at once. He kept his focus on a micro level.
He also knew his ultimate purpose on earth was to be executed. But he didn’t become overwhelmed with thoughts about his future execution. He didn’t sit on his hands waiting for the day of his murder. He focused on his Father’s business, serving the people around him. He was intent on ministering to people, one heart at a time.
Being Christlike means having intentionality about my tasks. But it also means being present and completely invested in the large and small moments of life. I need to be alert, listening, and responsive to my responsibilities as well as the hearts of the people around me.
People over Process
As we’re counting the cost and being intentional about the small and large moments of life, we would also do right to examine who is most important in our goals. I sometimes get tangled in the processes, schedules, and tasks and neglect who those systems exist for. The system isn’t a means to an end for me. Productivity as a system exists so I can actively die to self for the greater good of others.
But I often find myself in December wanting my processes to create such an idealistic picture of family and friendships that I cease to listen and serve the people the processes are designed to serve. Schedules and organizing shouldn’t be inconvenienced by people, people should inconvenience our schedules. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us of this.
As we begin this new year, I hope we draw closer to God and people. This will not happen magically or by our own human resolve. We need God to instill in us a desire that outweighs a sense of duty. We will let ourselves down. We will fall short of putting people first. Regardless, it’s only in Christ that we can get up and continue pressing forward to sacrifice for the good of others. It’s only in Christ that 2018 can be a Happy New Year.