With the holidays I’ve been a little off in my writing schedule, but I’m back on the horse. In the New Year I tend to think about resolutions and all that is bound up in making them (or not) so here are some thoughts…
Implicit in the whole prospect of making resolutions is this great hope that we can change. Somehow as the clock turns there is the possibility that we can take on new patterns, yet we all know how often we fail. The New Year is this small window into the distance between who we hope to be, who we actually are, and the difficulty of moving from here to there.
Second, we all need to reflect. There is a line from Psalm 90 that says, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” This occurs in the context of our brevity in light of God’s transcendence and the goal of accomplishing something with our lives. We have performance reviews with our bosses, audits of companies, state of the union addresses, report cards, and curriculum reviews at all levels. The individual Christian and the church as a whole need to reflect on where we have been and where we are going since we have a purpose and limited time to accomplish it. Also in this line from the Psalms we see a bias against reflection and awareness of our passing days. God needs to teach us to number our days. It is hard to look at our lives, measure where we are versus where God wants us to be, and how we might get there. For some of us it will be easier and for others harder, but I don’t think you can get around it.
Third, for me goals are better for the new year and resolutions for all of life. “Resolution” speaks of purposeful commitment to a certain norm or value that is larger than a specific behavior, while a goal is an expression of a resolution. A resolution is to live a healthy lifestyle while a goal is to work out three times a week. I see this in the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards which chart this course for his life. Personally there is the broader framework of who God wants me to be and specific goals for each year along three major axis: personal, professional, and family. There are subcategories under each of these which flesh out some of the particulars and give strategic elements of how I’ll get there. This is my second year of doing it this way and we’ll see how it goes.