As we begin a new year – often with a flurry of energy and excitement – we say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. For most people it’s another year ahead with many opportunities and expectations; maybe celebrations of special anniversaries, a graduation or new job role. For others, it’s a relief to see the old year end as they let go of disappointments and hardships, and look forward with optimism to a better year. Still for others, there may be a sense of hopelessness as they are unable to see how things can improve.
However you might be feeling about 2019, one thing that we can be certain of is that when we turn to God, when we lean on Him, He is there to comfort us, to cheer us on, to propel us into new adventures and to enable us to live a victorious life.
Setting New Year resolutions sounds good, but can lead to feelings of defeat and failure when we don’t follow through. We are focussed for the first month or two, then slowly the days and weeks slip by.
Here at GoChurch we encourage everyone to have a Growth Plan; something that is continuous; setting goals that are achievable, that enable us to grow in four specific areas of our life: Spiritual, Physical, Social & Mental. This begins right from Partnership and I personally use these four areas in my life and with those I disciple, reviewing them regularly. It’s important to be realistic and not to over commit yourself. No big resolutions but achievable goals.
Spiritual: As a Christian most of us would say ‘Read the Bible more or pray more!’ but this is not very specific. Start small and build up. Some examples: commit to reading the New Testament in a year following the GoChurch plan; commit to 15 minutes of prayer a day or 5 days a week; attend Bible College; study a specific topic from the Bible this year, etc
Physical: God wants you fit for the race. Believe me, I know – having two operations on my knees has severely limited my ability to be as active for God as I want to be. However, I am excited about getting more active in 2019. Since my operation in August, as I have begun walking again, each month, I assess my steps goal and increase it because I know the more active I am the better. If I set my goal as running a marathon this year, I am setting myself up for defeat. Small incremental goals are much better than a vague yearly goal.
Social: Not an area that most people think about but God has called us to love others. Some of us thrive with social interaction; for others it can be quite difficult. Here are some of the goals that some of those I disciple have set at different times: To invite a different family in church that we don’t know to Sunday lunch each month; to spend more time with my husband (this is a good one for those who are extremely busy, however, make sure you are specific with what “more time” means); to attend social events at the gym I attend – making friendships which will result in salvations.
Mental: I have found myself on a number of occasions saying ‘I’m glad I’m not at school anymore and I don’t have to do homework.’ Then someone pointed out to me that sermon prep is like homework! The truth is that we might have left school but if we want to improve our abilities, our knowledge or our leadership skills we need to be lifelong learners. The big difference is we now learn in the areas that we want to, rather than the areas we felt forced into at school. Sometimes we discover passions for subjects that we never knew we had.
I was average at school and a slow reader but I do love to read. Over the last 5 years I have been reading classic novels, while enjoying this it has also enlarged my vocabulary and I have also discovered that all genius’s read!!! Some other ideas: invest in 1 or 2 leadership books and study them; do a degree; join the library; study at Bible College; discover how to manage a budget; complete a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle; learn a musical instrument. It’s all about keeping your mind active.
As you look forward to the New Year, take some time, pray and consider how you want to grow in 2019.