Now that Christmas has snuck up on us and passed, we face the new year. Typically, we use this time of the year to reflect on the past and make commitments for the future. Some of us will make New Year’s resolutions, while others avoid the phrase but still set goals in the hopes of making this next year a better one.
Normal commitments include things like losing weight and quitting or cutting back on smoking or drinking. Some of us will join gyms, hoping to meet our fitness goals. Some will try nicotine patches, while others will throw things out, hoping to not invest in our vices after the first of the year.
Christians make commitments like attending church more, reading the Bible more, praying more, giving more and serving more. Some will purchase a one-year Bible, or use a program to get through the Bible in a year. Others will simply step up their efforts to do better in their commitments of faith.
Unfortunately, many of these commitments turn out to be nothing more than mere words. Year after year, people make commitments and tell others about them. Even so, most fail.
Now, I know it’s a bit of a downer to bring this up at this time. I don’t intend to diminish commitments or dampen enthusiasm. My intention is to encourage you to make commitments you can realistically accomplish, and to commit to really follow through.
Talking big is easy. Finishing well can be awfully hard, especially when it comes to New Year’s commitments.
Some of us quit making commitments a long time ago because we already figured out we don’t follow through. The solution isn’t quitting because you tend to quit on commitments. The solution is to make realistic commitments and purposely finish well.
None of us get everything right all the time. Even the best of us fail at times. Let’s not beat ourselves up for past failures in commitments, and determine to improve.
Below are some ways which might help you increase your chances in succeeding in your commitments for 2020. My hope and prayer is you do even better than you can imagine. Remember, Romans 8:28 is just as relevant today as it was when it was inspired 2,000 years ago.
1. Read scripture to know more about how God views life so you can be more informed on what kinds of commitments He likes.
2. Pray to seek His guidance in making commitments.
3. Self-evaluate, examining what it is God would have you do. Be honest with yourself, knowing we can all make improvements.
4. Set short and long-term goals, incorporating a plan of evaluation and accountability with someone you trust, and be honest with them. Use the short-term goals to chip away, and keep yourself encouraged as you aim for the longer-term ones.
5. Adjust your attitude for the better and keep it that way. Setting the right mindset will be crucial in meeting your goals.
6. Be tenacious, determined not to give up, no matter how hard it gets.
7. Keep it handed over to God, and always communicate with Him about it. Let it be not only a physical process, but a spiritual one.
8. If there are setbacks, stop, reevaluate and figure out a realistic way to reset, and keep moving toward those goals as best you can.
9. Ask for help when needed. The people who love you want you to be OK, so ask them for help if you need it.
10. At the end of the year, thank God for the successes you accomplish together. (Colossians 3:17)
Pastor Jeff Adams is a professional Christian counselor who travels the world teaching but serves our community. His column appears weekly. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.