By Wendy Berghane, Hearts Alive Curriculum Specialist
Happy New Year, friends! It’s the beginning of a new year and more often than not, that prompts our hearts to yearn for a new and improved attitude and a fresh start in those areas we want to strengthen or change. I don’t know why, but I always feel like each January 1, I have a renewed sense of drive and discipline, ready to take on areas of my life that have been a struggle. It makes me laugh really, like the only date a reset takes place is January 1. It kind of feels like we are a bunch of Pavlov’s dogs—we’ve been conditioned to think we must have a big mind reset each time the Times Square ball drops.
It’s never a bad idea to step back and evaluate things in our life or ministry. But we don’t want to get caught in the trap of those “resolutions” becoming idols or things that carry our worth. Because they don’t. Your success in reading the Bible every day, or limiting your time on social media, or losing 10 pounds has absolutely nothing to do with your value in God’s eyes! And friends, it shouldn’t have anything to do with your value in your own eyes either.
God gives you a reset opportunity every second of every day, because through the gift of Jesus, you have been given a new life! And it’s not one that you can fail! Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Jesus integrated his life into yours. No matter how messy your life gets, your life is perfectly worthy. God shared his righteousness with you through the gift of his Son.
And then back to New Year Resolutions. Please don’t take me to be saying they aren’t beneficial, because sometimes they can be. If you feel compelled to make a few goals for you or your family this year, consider these tips:
If you aren’t in the habit of reading Scripture already, then don’t set a goal of reading five chapters a day! You may be driven and disciplined enough to take that on, but more likely than not, you’ll be overwhelmed by day 19. Instead, try to form the habit in a more manageable way, like maybe reading a good devotional every morning, finding a Bible podcast to listen to on your way to work, or getting into Scripture for 15-20 minutes each evening before bed. And if you miss a day or stumble, simply remind yourself that you have the gift of new life every moment of every day. You can carry on without shame or guilt.
One of the easiest things to do is to take a goal and make it an idol. Losing weight can quickly turn into an unhealthy relationship with food. Wanting to crush projects at work can lead to becoming a workaholic. These goals (and others) aren’t bad goals, unless you allow them to cross the fine line into idolatry. If you goal is taking over your heart, your mind, and all of your time, then it is most likely pushing out God and taking up residence as a false god. Only God has made you worthy, remember? And it has nothing to do with any goal you achieve (or don’t achieve). Idols sneak up on us, and they often aren’t as obvious as a golden calf. Be sure that your goals are simply areas you want to work on, with God’s help, and not an achievement-chasing race that consumes you (and in the end, leaves you feeling pretty empty).
Teaching your kids how to make smart, attainable, God-glorifying goals can be a great teaching moment. As a family, come up with something you all would like to work on together. Maybe it’s a Sunday night family devotional time. Or a weekly walk or bike ride around the neighborhood. Perhaps you want to get in the habit of taking turns blessing the food before dinner. Or video chatting with the grandparents every Saturday morning. There are a lot of fun “goals” to make as a family that can be truly rewarding and enriching, all the while accomplishing something together!
Enjoy the excitement that this time of year can bring with fresh starts and new visions. Ponder, evaluate, dream, and set some healthy goals if you wish. Just remember that victory is not gained by how well you accomplish those goals, but rather victory is already yours! And if you stumble, you don’t have to declare yourself not good enough or a failure. What you do is not what makes you worthy. You are worthy because of who you are—a child of God and a new creation. You are new in Christ just because you are you. Wonderful, worthy you.
Is one of your resolutions to find new material to study with your family or children's ministry? We would love for you to consider Hearts Alive, a Gospel-centered, lectionary-based curriculum for kids. Learn more and download a free sample here!
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