2018 – A New Year – Your Best Year Ever!
Something happens to us as we prepare to enter a new year. We are renewed with the hope that comes from a fresh start. There is optimism in the air. Maybe it’s the rhythm of life. Can the new year really be so significant that we experience a profound leap in our lives?
Over the years, I have tried various approaches to resolutions and goals. But for my spiritual life the process I now use helps me more than anything I have tried. So here are seven principles and five steps to take. Don’t worry you have plenty of time to work through all of this – just consider the first principle and you will be encouraged.
Don’t rush. The Christmas season is often a frenzied time. Activities can easily overwhelm us. Just as we take a breath on the day after Christmas, we realize that we are less than a week from the new year. If you want the next year to be a year of growth, use the entire month of January to go through this process. Or you can start preparing in October – but, we’re a little late to do that this year!
Pray. Take plenty of time to ask God what comes next for you. Spend time in your Bible as you pray. Ask him to help you see where you need to go, what you need to do.
Settle the question. If you have never really nailed it down, do it now. You will follow Jesus no matter what happens in your life. Make that the non-negotiable standard of your life. If you have settled the question, reaffirm it in prayer.
Write it out. As you pray and seek God’s leadership, write out the impressions he has placed on your heart. Writing it out is not only a principle to apply but part of the process I will describe below.
Focus on the essentials. As we follow Jesus, we must spend time in prayer, Bible reading and worship. Questions in these areas must be answered as you look to a new year. I have been blessed to hear many testimonies from people who finally read the entire Bible in a year. If you have never done this, it is a good goal. My advice on Bible reading can be found here.
As far as a Bible reading strategy, try this. How many pages are in your Bible? Divide the page numbers by 300 (because you will probably miss a few days) and round up to the nearest even number. For example, my Bible has 1035 pages, which gives me 3.45 pages a day. Using this formula, I need to read four pages a day to complete it comfortably in one year. A second method is to devote a certain amount of time each day to reading. If you read 15 minutes a day, you can read the whole Bible in a year.
Look for growth. Ask God for direction to grow in areas such as fellowship, service and the practice of new disciplines. As you grow spiritually, you will find yourself longing for more intimacy with God. This is often found in the practice of new disciplines like fasting, solitude, silence and journaling.
Understand. Finally, you must realize that the setting of goals for your spiritual life involves process not destination. It’s not about achievement but purposeful activity. For example, when you have read the entire Bible, you’re not done. Read it again. I know people who read the entire Bible twelve times a year!
Your year will be led by Jesus not your emotions. One reason it is important to not rush is so our emotions don’t get the best of us! You must remain flexible. The greatest strides forward that I accomplished this past year didn’t even start until March or April! That’s okay. Establishing good habits is part of spiritual growth – and that takes time!
Now, the process…
The principles are the foundation of the process, so you can kind of figure it out for yourself but here are the steps I take.
- Pray. Over a period of time continue to pray for God’s leadership.
- Write it out. As things come to mind write them down. Sometimes we brainstorm for ideas. Maybe we should Spirit-storm here!
- Pray. This is to help you eliminate and refine those things you have written down.
- Establish it. Once you have prayed and written and prayed you can now establish those things that you feel God is leading you into for the new year. These four steps should take you at least four weeks! Don’t rush it.
- Pray it out every day. Pray for God’s help every day in the fulfillment of the things he has revealed to you and you have recorded. When you pray for these things, you will experience how God works in your life to make them a reality!
As you prepare for next year, remember the importance of decision making. Allow God to guide this process and you will experience his profound leadership!
Please, pass this on so others can experience the best year of their spiritual lives as well!