Make a spiritual resolution
My New Year’s sermon gives seven tips on how to keep a New Year’s resolution and then it invites you to make a spiritual resolution. I have included the seven steps that I gathered from various sources and then added my invitation at the end. Please feel free to share the ideas with your friends.
First step – make sure that you know the difference between wishing and commitment. Many times people wish to make a change but never commit to a program to do so. Wishing is passive. Commitment is active. Wishing leaves you with the feel that things are going to magically happen. Commitment is practical. It recognizes that there are going to be challenges, obstacles, disappointments, and hard work.
Second step – recognize the difference between “going with the flow” and “taking control.” It is a wonderful thing to lean back and go with the flow of life. It feels so relaxed, so less stressful than bucking the currents, and so easy. Going with the flow is great as long as the river you are traveling has no dangers ahead. But what happens when there is a waterfall downstream? Taking control is necessary if you are going to make changes in your life. The problem is that many of us think that “control” and “power” are negative words and concepts. We do not want to be “power hungry people” or “controlling people.” As a result we shy away from using our control to shape our lives and change our behavior. Perhaps a better word might be “proactive.” Proactive would mean that we recognize the behaviors in our lives that need to be changed, we create a plan, and we hold ourselves accountable for meeting our goals.
Third step – make your goals specific. It is easy to say that you want to lose weight but the very fact that the goal is not measurable makes it harder to attain. If you have a goal like losing weight set a long-term goal and several realistic goals along the way that can be attained and celebrated. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I know that is a bad metaphor when talking about weigh loss but it works. Set goals that you know you can meet. When you do celebrate them.
Fourth step – visualize the end result. This is the great part about a day like today. You can look out into the future and visualize what a new behavior might look like or result in. Athletes will tell you that in order to improve performance they spend hours not only exercising and practicing but also visualizing the activity. Creative visualization is a great tool for personal improvement because you get a chance to see what the changes you want to make look like. You become emotionally attached to the goal and it pushes you forward. You possess such a clear image of what you will be that it changes who you are now! A powerful image of what can be will push you through the challenges that will try to stop you.
Fifth step – keep track of what you are doing. Keep a log or a journal of the changes you are experiencing. If it is losing weight record each day. If it is exercising more, then write down what you do each day. If it is changing a nasty behavior like gossiping or lying, journal about the opportunities you had to lie and didn’t. Tracking our behavior allows us to see how we really live. It reveals the truth about who we are.
Sixth step – find a companion. The best way to go on a journey is to have a companion who will be there when you are losing energy and focus. Find someone who will be an accountability partner. This is a special person that you trust. You must understand beforehand that you will never lie to him or her. You must be just as honest with them about your failures as you are about your successes. You must also give that person permission to speak honestly and boldly to you and you must not resent the intrusion into your plans and life. Companions are rare and wonderful additions to your life. Choose them wisely and treat them with gratitude and grace.
Seventh step – celebrate often. Take time to acknowledge the small victories and don’t discount them. Set small goals along the way to larger goals, if for no other reason than to celebrate the journey. Even if you have fallen off track and have just returned again – celebrate. Failure can often be used as a good time to reassess your goals or your techniques. Celebration can also be used as a time of reflection. Use your times of celebration to ponder what you did to attain the goal. What techniques bear repeating? What ones need to be discontinued? What resources, skills, or people might you need to do attain the next goal more easily?
Now with these steps in mind, make a spiritual resolution for 2012. Visualize allowing the light of Jesus Christ to shine into your heart and reflect on this question. If I am going to walk in the light of Christ this year, what one behavior needs to be changed? Then pray for the wisdom, courage, and perseverance to make the change.