Do you plan on making resolutions for the New Year? The first of the year is a great time to start fresh, set goals, and begin something new. In fact, it’s the perfect time to evaluate our spiritual health and set some goals for growth.
Resolutions and goals can often be hard to keep. Statistics show that, at best, only 46% of New Year’s resolutions are still kept six months into the year. People lose their resolve quickly because they set unattainable goals. We need a different mode of thinking if we hope to achieve long term growth and see fruit.
The following five tips will help us set personal discipleship goals that will keep us growing through the year:
• Concentrate your efforts. Set just one, two, or three goals at a time. Don’t spread yourself too thin. When you experience success then add another goal.
• Be realistic. Set goals that are attainable. If you don’t read your Bible regularly now, don’t set a goal to read the entire Bible in three months. Instead commit to read it 3 to 5 times per week.
• Think concretely. Set goals so progress can be measured. For instance, this goal is too ambiguous: I’m going to spend more time with God. Instead be concrete: I will read one Bible chapter and pray for 10 minutes five times a week.
• Include strategies. Develop strategies designed to move you toward your goals. If one goal is to memorize Scripture, determine how you will do that. What verses you will memorize? How often you will tackle a new one? What memorization techniques you will use?
• Create manageable steps. Break your overall goal into a series of smaller goals that are doable and will foster success.
How do we begin?
First, take a serious look at your spiritual health. Be open and honest about your strengths and weaknesses, talk this over with a mentor or friend who can help you assess where you are right now. Your weakest areas can be great growth areas in the year ahead. There is no shame in this process, God is calling us to walk toward him, not start at the finish line.
Next, set spiritual growth goals. Planning is not “unspiritual.” Living a life that glorifies God will not happen by accident. There are lots of resources out there to help in various areas of discipleship and spiritual growth. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from people who you trust.
Most importantly, and first, before you do any of the rest of this ask God to guide you as you evaluate your spiritual health and set goals for growth, ask him to reign in your life, to transform you by his spirit into the image of Christ. He will bring the spiritual transformation as you strive to live a life according to his will.
Adapted from Kathy Howard’s “5 Tips for Setting Spiritual Growth Goals for the New Year”