How resolute are we in our resolutions?

    For many the new year marks for them a fresh start.  I’m sure that many of us have already made and broken  “New Year’s resolutions.”  Check out this definition from Wikipedia:

“A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. A key element to a New Year’s resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year and new beginnings. People committing themselves to a New Year’s resolution generally plan to do so for the whole following year. This lifestyle change is generally interpreted as advantageous.”

    On the surface level it is probably hard to find fault with this concept.  We should encourage one another to make commitments to goals, projects and reformation of habits.  Yet, we all know that we more than likely won’t stay resolute in our commitment to this change. 

    I believe there are two reasons why we fail at keeping our New Year’s resolutions.  First we make them at a time of someone else’s choosing.   The social prescription that a new year is the best time may be quite symbolic, but doesn’t always reflect our desire or lifestyle.  The second reason is that we don’t necessarily consider our resolutions very well.  Given that we are almost forced to make them, we make commitments without truly thinking them through.

    I agree that the new year is a powerfully symbolic time for us to tie change into our lives.  As a new year dawns, it would be wonderful to see a new reality in our lives.  This isn’t always fair to our lives or aligned with our desires.  Take the stereotypical resolution to lose weight.  Are we really prepared to make this commitment right after the feasts of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s?  Some may be ready due to their feeling of guilt over holiday excess, but most others are more likely to feel so overwhelmed with returning to normal life that adding this commitment only sets them up for failure.  Perhaps we should look for more opportune times to make changes and not allow a calendar to dictate how we transform our lives.

buy cialis online uk   The fact of the matter is that most people who make a commitment to a New Year’s resolution make them without considering the full scope of their commitment.  A change in lifestyle isn’t easy and much like the words from the wedding liturgy, “should not be entered into lightly.”  Again,  take the lose weight resolution.  How many people make this commitment and then find themselves thrust back into the daily grind, and the actions towards achieving this goal are almost impossible to do?  Is the first of the year always the best time to get a gym membership and start working out every day?

    I ask these questions, and draw attention to our failure to achieve our New Year’s resolutions, in order to get everyone thinking about commitments.  I for one would love to be a slimmer and healthier me.  Yet, we all have various commitments in our lives and they are made in many areas of our lives.  Some commitments are beyond our control.  Our work expects us to meet deadlines and our children’s lives often make commitments of our time and talents.  So that makes it critical to ensure that the commitments we make are made with discernment and in the right seasons. 

    This need for commitment discernment is needed just as much, if not even more, in our faith life.  We are in our season of seeking new Elders and Deacons to serve our congregation.  Every person asked by the Nominating Taskforce will need to consider their answer with prayers for discernment.  Likewise, the taskforce needs to consider the candidates they approach with serious discernment.  Too often people are forced to make decisions by deadlines and external needs rather than calling.  This is true for officers and lay people.  Each of us has to make commitments to our faith.  How have you made those commitments in the past?  I know more than one Elder who has “committed” because they felt no one else would.  This of course isn’t the way we should enter into our journey of faith. 

    As the new year dawns, I hope that you will look at your commitments, and consider if they have truly been discerned with the Spirit or if they are uninformed.  Again, this isn’t intended to be a discouragement, but instead an encouragement.  I hope to encourage you to make your commitments wisely and with the leading of God in your lives.

  • What commitments do you have that aren’t right for you?
  • What commitments should you be making today in order to partner with God in your life?

6 thoughts on “How resolute are we in our resolutions?

  1. Thanks for this good and timely message. I recall some years ago being in a study of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. About the only point I remember at all is that of “the law of the farm.” It applies well to resolutions. The soil must be prepared, then seeding, watering, weeding, waiting and ultimately the harvest if serious and sustained work has been contributed. I remember this when I think of New Year’s or any other resolutions. One can’t really resolve and do whether it’s, for example, losing weight, running a marathon or serving in a church office. New Year’s Resolutions are merely a set up for failure.

    Perhaps other respondents can clear the haze of my memory and application.

  2. Eleanor – the Habits book is one of my favorites – though I admit I don’t remember the farm…I do still reflect on the 4 quadrants and always “resolve” to try to get in more quadrant two activities (important but not urgent) 🙂

    In general, I don’t make resolutions either. Though I do like the new calendar as a clean slate of sorts. It’s about choice and what we want to make a priority – and there are seasons for different kinds of priorities. Geoff – you could make slimmer/healthier you – but you choose not to make that a priority for now. That’s not a judgment – it’s just that given all the choices you have to make about your time, you have other priorities right now.

    I think the same is true for our faith life. There are seasons where certain areas are a priority. I think a harder thing to discern is not whether to say yes to a new thing, but to say “not any more” to an existing thing. Many times we add new and don’t release something whose season has passed. The new year is as good a time as any to evaluate that!

  3. Perhaps we might focus on the Christian New Year, the liturgical calendar. The First Sunday in Advent focuses on hope and scripture takes us to the promise that Jesus will return, the second coming. As the Gospel of Mark instructs: “Keep alert.” Only God knows when Jesus will return. We’re to be ready at all times. Amen!

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