Two Mistakes Christians Make in Making New Year’s Resolutions
And How to Create a Vision For Your Life
The year is winding down and everyone’s a-buzz about making New Year’s Resolutions, becoming a better version of yourself, resolving to break old bad habits or picking up a few new good ones. Some years, I find myself resolving to get more exercise, spend more time with the LORD, get out of debt, or do something more meaningful with my days. I think we all hope to be continually improving ourselves, and growing in ways toward
I think we all hope to be continually improving ourselves, and growing in ways toward our best life now, as the popular book is titled. But so often, we have no idea what that even looks like. All too often, as believers, we are afraid to ask God for what we want, desiring to leave Him room to lead us wherever!
But God has shown me that making goals, creating New Year’s Resolutions, and even developing a full-scale Vision for My Life, is a good and worthy task.
In a previous job, I had frequent conversations about change management with my boss. We were actually working on a book together before she passed away and it was left unfinished. However, in those conversations, we always came back to this:
You won’t get anywhere, if you don’t know where you’re going.
The point being, if you aren’t living your life with a vision, neither will you achieve it. Sure, you might stumble onto something interesting, but if you don’t even know what you’re looking for, how do you know when you find it? How do you know if you’re on the right path? How do you measure success? And most importantly, how do you know if your vision aligns itself with God’s?
The Two Mistakes Christians Make in Making New Year’s Resolutions:
The first mistake we make in making New Year’s Resolutions is this: we fail to have a vision for our life. When we make a resolution without a vision or ultimate objective, we are really wasting our time. Without a vision, it’s very difficult to define milestone goals, and it’s impossible to measure your successes or celebrate them along the way.
When we forget to take time to consider what we are aiming for, or fail to ponder what we want our lives to look like, we are setting goals in a vacuum. Without this context, our short-term goals lose their meaning very quickly, allowing us to toss them aside at the first sign of difficulty.
On the contrary, if our new year’s resolutions are part of the strategy for an overall life vision, they become critical key elements to our success. When difficulty or temptation arises, as it inevitably will, we can press through that. When obstacles or bad choices derail us, a life vision will help us learn from our mistakes as opposed to quitting and walking away from our goals for another year.
The second mistake we, as Christians, make in making New Year’s Resolutions, is finding the balance between our vision and God’s plan. When we feel like we lack a calling, and we don’t know what God wants us to do, we play into the devil’s plan, and do nothing. We patiently wait, or perhaps apathetically wait, for God to carry us toward His goal for our lives, while we do nothing.
This is why it is important to remember that creating a vision for your life isn’t an act of rebellion. It is not dictating to God how our future will play out.
We can, and should, create a vision for our lives.
Taking it right back to scripture, we are told, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)
Again, the Word says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 KJV2000).
We are told to have a vision, to plan our way, but then to release it to the LORD to direct our paths as He sees fit.
Practically speaking, this may look like, “Father, I’d like to have a home and some stability for my family, to not be renting any longer and to build equity in a home I own, but LORD, your will be done.” I add a home to my Vision Board. I may even then create milestone goals, such as 1) get out of debt 2) save $200/month for a down payment. 3) decide how big of a home I actually need, and 4) improve my credit score.
Recently, my husband was speaking to me of various things he was visioning for our future as he released them to the LORD. He was speaking of primarily ministering God’s love to others, followed by a secondary list of things like a second reliable vehicle, earning an income through ministry work, being able to live on 10% of our income and give 90%, traveling as a family, and even being able to take a family trip overseas sometime.
I have to confess that hearing him talk of these things shocked me, to a degree, because so often, I get hung up on leaving it all up to God. It snapped me out of my apathy and made me ask, “What is my vision for my life? How do I even begin I draft that?”
So how do we begin to create a vision?
- First, let’s refer back to that Proverb… “Where there is no vision, my people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV), and continue reading. It finishes by saying “…but he who keepeth the law, happy is he.” Right away, I must acknowledge that my vision must be in submission to God’s will for my life, and His law. Anything outside of these parameters is idolatry and I cannot have that in my life.
- Therefore, (you and) I carefully and thankfully, make our requests known to God, as His Word indicates. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV). We can choose to not be anxious about accomplishing our goals or achieving our vision as long as we sincerely make our requests known to God with thanksgiving, and leave the success up to Him.
- The next step in our Vision process is to take delight in the LORD just as it says. “Delight yourself also in the LORD: and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 KJV2000) As a child, I read this as a transaction. I delight myself in God, then He gives me what I want. But as an adult, I’ve learned to see this differently. I’ve discovered that rather than getting what I want, when I delight myself in the LORD, he creates new desires in me for the things He wants me to want. Then my vision is His vision, and obedience to Him will cause it to happen.
- And that’s why this last step is the first step too. As we remember that it is He who directs our steps, we place ourselves in continual submission to Him. We remember it is He who gives us godly desires. It is He who plants dreams in our heart. We remember that it is good and honorable to embrace those dreams and to place them on the vision board of our life, but to also recognize that only in Him can we truly succeed. On our own, we can do nothing, and our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.
So, what’s on the Vision Board of your life right now? Will it impact any resolutions you prepare to make? Are you currently seeing milestone victories on the journey toward your vision? I’d love to hear!