Setting New Year’s Resolutions don’t really work for me – they are set with the buzz of the New Year – often we are on holidays so I feel refreshed, and relieved of a lot of the daily pressures of life and I feel like I can achieve anything. But once life starts back to the normal grind these resolutions tend to be forgotten or they raise their heads every so often simply to accuse me of failing in these areas again – generally on a day where I’m feeling a bit inward and overwhelmed!
This is because New Year’s Resolutions are made based on me not being good enough, they are written with the goal of me being better. Now, I’m all for self-growth and improvement but if our goal is just to be better we will run out of puff, and we will judge ourselves as not good enough – ever. Being better is a fairly arbitrary standard.
This year I worked through a little e-book, Grace Goals, and found a new perspective. I can set goals from a place of Grace – living in grace means that I know that I am loved and forgiven, that there is nothing I need to do, or can do, to live in God’s presence, but also grace is another word for the power of the Holy Spirit enabling me to walk according to God’s ways. I can set goals knowing that God is with me and for me.
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After reading Psalm 37 again (which has been a key passage for my life, and our marriage) verse 4 caught my attention: Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps 37:4 I’ve talked about this verse with my kids often – If we delight in the Lord our heart changes: God changes our heart to be like his heart. When this happens he can give us the desires of our heart because our heart desires what his heart desires.
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So instead of setting New Year’s Resolutions, or One Word, or even Goals to be a better person I asked myself, “What are the desires God is placing on my heart?” There are so many good ideas out there, but what are the God ideas? After thinking, praying, journaling I settled on the word: Order.
Now my life really isn’t in disarray – and some people may look into my world and think that there is order. And there is. But there are also some areas where I lack order. It isn’t really about being orderly to a standard that the world understands and accepts (that would be a New Year’s Resolution way of thinking) but it is about being quiet and listening to the goings-on in my heart and hear the quiet whisper that says: Order – there are things out of order in your life that hinders your effectiveness. In this still quiet voice I hear God prompting me to deal with certain things in my life – for his purposes.
Here’s the promise of God that I’m standing on this year: We pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess 1:11-12 (NIV)
I believe – according to this verse – that
- God has a calling for me – a purpose. I don’t believe this purpose is always sometime in the future – my today is his calling, his purpose.
- God’s power, his grace, his Holy Spirit, will strengthen me, prompt me, teach me, remind me to walk in the way that will bring glory to God (which in this case is to bring order into certain aspects of my life)
- That there will be times where I have to act in faith – believing God is with me and for me regardless of my circumstances
But I also believe that God has given us natural capacities – he has given me a mind, a will, and a body. I make choices that dictate how these capacities function. As I commit my choices to his ways then I will grow in order. It isn’t about me sitting and praying and contemplating God’s desires – I need to get up and do the things that he puts on my heart. James talks about this – what is faith without works; Paul talks about what is works without faith.
The areas that need order are – my health, my homeschooling, my housekeeping, and how I help others. I have set myself some key tasks – or goals.
- Change my morning routines so that I serve the priorities first
- Stay at home in the mornings – and consider every morning commitment in context of my Grace Goal (order)
- Declutter a little bit every day
- Start the week with Bible study with Daniel
- Set Daniel assignments with due dates to help him stay on track and motivated
- Add green smoothies and salad to my daily diet
Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds…
Another difference between setting New Year’s Resolutions and Grace Goals is the idea of doing it on your own. If you set a New Year’s Resolution because you are not good enough, not living at a certain standard we are not so inclined to share those things with people therefore we struggle towards change on our own. When we set a Grace Goal – when we set a goal that is something that God has put on our heart, then we can include others in our journey – this is what being a part of the body of Christ is all about – we are to encourage each other in good works. We aren’t perfect, but we can live life together, supporting and encouraging each other to walk in faith.
So with that in mind, I have some accountability partners:
- Peter – he is working with me on these things, not simply reminding me, but joining in on the hard work.
- My kids – I’ve asked them to help me, especially with being on the computer in the mornings.
- My friend – who has offered to help every so often to tackle those big decluttering jobs! Always more fun to do it with a friend.
- Accountability partner – thanks to the group of ladies doing the Grace Goals workbook, I have a partner – across the other side of the world – who will encourage me and support me, and me her as she works with her goals.
Have you set any goals this year? Are they based on the idea of you not being good enough? Or are they based on the idea that God has a purpose for your days?
I look forward to this coming year. I know that God is with me, I know that his grace is sufficient for the task at hand.
Grace Goals* is a little workbook that is applicable at any time of the year. I can highly recommend it. It helped me push aside all the things the world tells me I should do and helped me focus on the things that honour God.
*I am not an affiliate with Grace Goals – this book has been an encouragement to me this year and so I want to share it with you.
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