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.
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?