Happy New Year
By Pastor Sean
As we close out on 2016 and look to 2017, what are you looking forward to in the year to come? This holiday week gives many people a chance to reset and refocus for the year to come. The down time gives chance to reflect on what has gone well and what has not gone well, to give thanks to God, and to consider what we want to be different as we go ahead.
Anybody who knows me well knows that I love to set goals. During our first staff retreats, we would share our goals for the year, and I would read all of them (like all five pages of them!). Reputations are hard to get rid of. Even though I haven’t done that in 10 years, they still make sure they go to the bathroom before I start reading! I’ve changed a bit over the years. First, I realized people don’t want to hear all my goals. Second, I started making less goals.
The thought of setting goals around this time of year sometimes leaves people discouraged and depressed. Honestly, I don’t care much about New Year’s Resolutions. I could make those goals any time of the year, but the New Year gives me time to think about it.
I meet a lot of people who are dismissive of them and of all goal setting. There is good reason to be a bit dismissive. I read one study from a University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology that shows some statistics about New Year's Resolutions. Forty five percent (45%) of Americans make resolutions (for some perspective, consider that only 33% of Americans watch the Super Bowl). Of those 45%, only 8% of them will successfully complete one. Wow! We are pretty bad at keeping resolutions. No matter people get discouraged about them.
I believe the Christian life is more than about a new “resolution” that may or may not last a year. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit of God, the “spirit of self-control” (1 Timothy 1:5), who leads us to a life of discipline, conviction, and principle. The Christian life takes a long-view of life. Because we know we will appear before God and give account for our lives (Matthew 25, Revelation 21), we tend to think ahead. Christians work for a future reward, knowing that the most important words we can hear is “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I heard once that Christians tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in one year but underestimate what they can do in five years. I took this as challenge. I started to make five year goals. I started out by writing how old I was going to be in five years, how old Julie was going to be, and how old each of my children were going to be.
Then I started making some goals about those relationships. I decided to focus on the relationships and the character I hope to see in each one of us, rather than simply accomplishing more things. All those other things will work out if I develop the relationships around me. For example, what I would like to invest into my relationship with God, what do I want to invest in my key relationships, what do I want for my relationships in the church, and what I want my life to look like in 5 years (what do I want to learn?, what are my financial goals?). Since it was 5 years out, I stopped writing a lot of goals and just focused on a few goals.
Sure, I write yearly goals, but I need the five year goals to give some perspective.
A lot will change in five years. How do I prepare myself for those five years? That’s what I ask.
In five years my oldest son will be 20, my daughter will be 18. Will they be in college? Am I ready for that change? Are they emotionally, mentally, and spiritually ready for what they will face? What are they good at? What should we focus on? What do I want to be true in each of their lives before they start dating? What will it take for them to look forward to coming home on vacations?
My third child will be 15, almost ready to drive and our youngest will be 13. My fifteen year old will be ready for her first job, how can I help her cultivate a good work habit? That means all of our kids will be teenagers or above. Are Julie and I ready for having no small children in the home?
And then, realizing that five years will come quickly, what do I want my relationships to look like? That’s the most important question. And then, I can begin to make new habits that will help me make those relationships valuable.
I believe we do these things all the time, but maybe not intentionally. Writing it down makes it very real for me, and helps me prayerfully consider what God would have me focus on in the years ahead. I would say that one very important part of setting good goals is writing them down and reviewing them periodically. Or just having a few that you can repeat out loud. Sometimes, it doesn’t even correspond to a direct action, but when an opportunity arrives and we remember that it fits our goals, we can job on that opportunity.
End of Year Giving to New Life in Christ Church
By Pastor Sean
Do you have any end-of-year financial gifts that you would like to deduct from your 2016 taxes? We need to receive those donations by December 31. You can make any of those donations
By Pastor Sean
New Life in Christ Church
11925 Burgess Lane Fredericksburg, VA 22407
(540) 786-4848 | firstname.lastname@example.org