Everyone’s got a view on new year’s resolutions. They can be a divisive subject. Some people LOVE them: “New year, new me!” Are you that person? Others can’t stand the thought. “They’re a commercial invention to make me pay for a gym I’ll never use.” Is that you?
Perhaps you’re the person that prefers new year’s ‘goals’. You know, something to work towards rather than an arbitrary new standard to fail at. Or perhaps you go with ‘annual themes – thoughts that filter how you live moving forward.
A Fresh Start
However you engage with new year’s resolutions, one thing is undeniable: there’s something about a new year that gives us a feeling of a fresh start. A new year triggers us to go again, reminds us to give life another shot and prompts us to refresh parts of life that have drifted.
So here’s my question: as Christians, how can we harness this new year energy to become better Jesus followers? How can we make and keep meaningful new year’s resolutions that lead us closer to Christ?
Here’s five thoughts:
1. Ask God First
“Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5
As Jesus embarks on His “vine and branches” discourse (John 15:1-17), He drops the powerful (and blunt) reminder that as Christians, ALL our purpose, productivity and growth comes from Him. Without Jesus, we have nothing of eternal value to offer. It’s an important perspective refresher.
One mistake we make with new year’s resolutions is doing it in our own strength. We summon all our willpower to resolve to eat better, exercise more or read our Bibles and then beat ourselves up when we inevitably fail. It’s like determining to run a marathon with minimal training and no external coaching: doomed to exhaustion. This is not how God intends us to live!
All power in spiritual growth comes from God first. There’s no power in simply making a resolution. If we want to grow, we must be mindful of our constant need for God’s Spirit. He needs to be the initiator, not us.
To make productive resolutions this year, bring God into the process from Day 1. Be prayerful. James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God.” This is a great place to start. Keep it simple and ask God first.
2. Ask Yourself Why?
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Colossians 3:17
Once you’ve brought God into center stage, the next step is some healthy self-reflection. Why are you making these resolutions?
As Christians, we’re called to live for a cause greater than ourselves. Following Christ, we lay down our lives for others as we seek to bring His good news into a broken world. Through the Holy Spirit, we surrender our selfish desires and replace them with God’s purposes. We live by “Your will be done”, rather than chasing our own cravings.
This is relevant as we make new year’s resolutions. Self-motivated resolutions will be sustained through our willpower alone, which will eventually tire. God-motivated resolutions are more likely to bear consistent and impactful fruit.
In each resolution we make, let’s ask: who’s this for? If only ourselves, let’s think again. In everything we do, let us resolve to honor God and do it all for HIS name, not ours. With that as our motivation, we can be more confident that the Spirit will help us see it through.
3. Make A Plan
Once we’ve got the orientation of our new year’s resolutions right, we can get into the logistics of setting good goals. If God is central and we’re making resolutions for His glory, we have a strong foundation.
One simple tip for keeping a new year’s resolution is to make a plan for how you’re going to do it. If you just say “I want to eat healthily”, it’s unlikely you will consistently achieve that. It’s too vague, and you’ve not thought through what it actually looks like. You’re more likely to be more successful if you plan the realities of eating healthily.
A resolution is nothing without a plan. Write it down. Give yourself check-in points to reflect on progress. Once this stuff is on paper, it’s easier to execute!
4. Make It Sustainable
“Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
As Jesus teaches us to pray, He gives us this beautiful line about daily bread. I’ve always loved this thought. Jesus encourages sustainable spiritual growth: small things done regularly. He doesn’t ask us to make huge, impossible jumps of sporadic faith. Rather, He yearns for us to slowly develop deep trust and intimacy with Him – one step at a time.
Jesus draws us to move forward incrementally. This is a powerful principle to apply to New Year’s Resolutions. If you haven’t seen a gym for five years, it’s unlikely you’ll go five times a week starting tomorrow. Instead, you need to start small. Do something you can do consistently, and allow it to grow naturally.
To be fruitful with your resolutions, build sustainable habits and don’t fear failure. If your rhythm is sustainable, missing a day won’t derail you.
Choose to embrace this year one day at a time, and bring God into every moment.
5. Involve Others
Don’t do life alone. The whole of our lives with Christ are designed to be outworked in community. New year’s resolutions are no exception. As we set goals and determine to grow, we need others around us to keep us accountable.
If you want success in a new year’s resolution, find a friend. Check in with each other. Ask for help when you need it. Maybe work through some content on the Glorify app together. It’s amazing how much more effective you can be when you involve others.
This year, resolve to live with people. With God at the center, you can achieve incredible things together.
How To Keep New Year’s Resolutions: Final Thoughts
As a Christian, a resolution is pointless if God is nowhere to be seen in it. We want to be formed into the likeness of Jesus. That’s our goal. As each year passes, we want to love deeper, hope more and serve others better.
So take some time to commit the year to God. Ask Him where you need to grow. Then allow Him to dictate your resolutions. This could be your best year yet!