Before Making New Year’s Resolutions


I know lots of people are big on New Year’s resolutions, but I’m not. I used to go the resolutions route, then switched to yearly goals. Finally I dropped those too. The fact was, whatever I did seemed like a plan for failure. Sure I wanted the things I put down on the list, but reality was, I didn’t have the time-management skills or drive or willingness to say no or whatever else might have determined a greater degree of success. So rather than setting myself up for failure, I decided to depart from the tradition.

Something I read in Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening made me think there’s something I should do instead, and I think it’s appropriate for those planning to set down resolutions, too.

Simply put, it’s a bit of evaluation akin to an employer’s end of the year evaluation I used to have at the close of every school year. I’d sit down with the principal and we’d talk about how things went and what we needed to do to prepare for the next year. I had one particular principal who upped it a notch and took a tough look at my teaching. What was I doing that needed to be improved? The message was clear even though I’d been teaching for years — don’t stand pat.

But the truth is, we aren’t really the best ones to evaluate … us. We need a more objective opinion, someone who both knows us well and who will be honest, even brutally so, if need be.

When King David wanted to take a good hard look at his life, he turned to God:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. (Ps. 139:23-24)

Who could be better qualified to search us than omniscient God? He knows my lying down and my rising. He knows my thoughts from afar. He knows each word I will say before a one is on my lips. I can hide nothing from Him.

So what’s the search about if He already knows?

I believe it’s got several functions. First, this evaluation is like my employer evaluations — as much about communicating the conclusions as about the results themselves. If my principal knew what I should do differently and he never told me, I would be no better for having been evaluated. It would be a meaningless exercise. I needed the communication end of the meeting. So too with God.

Second is the part where God leads me in His way. Not only do I need to know what I need to change, I need to know God’s way of handling the change. Change for no other reason than to do things differently is actually wasted effort.

A meaningful evaluation, then, requires sitting down and listening to the one in authority: This is what I see and this is what you need to do about it.

Evaluations can be scary — unless there is trust between the one being evaluated and the one doing the evaluation. Of course we know we can trust God to be truthful and not to miss a thing. But we can also trust Him because He is good and because He loves us. Consequently, it’s safe to ask Him to search us, to try us, to see if there’s a wicked something in our lives that needs to change.

Not a bad idea to have such a meeting with Him whether we’re planning to make a list of resolutions or not.

Published in: on December 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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