A long time ago, I used to make New Year’s resolutions. They were mostly stupid. “I’m going to eat no more than 2,200 calories a day.” “I’m going to the gym and workout every day.” “I’m going to go a whole year without arguing with my wife.” “I’m going to have a quiet time every day.” (Well, maybe not all of them were stupid). But they never made it out of January. I learned that New Year’s resolutions are binary. Black and white. Pass/Fail. Once broken, they were meaningless.
So, I moved back to goal-setting. I could dig pages of goals from the last twenty years out of my files. Goals were better than resolutions. Less binary. More forgiving. If I got off-track, I had time to double-down and still achieve. And while people who set goals often accomplish more than people who don’t, goals are tricky. We can set goals for the wrong things. We can set goals on things others value and ignore what’s really important to us. Also, it’s hard to set goals on things that aren’t objectively measurable. A goal isn’t a goal if there’s no way to know if you’ve achieved it, and frankly, after decades of driving toward goals, I got tired of it. Just like New Year’s resolutions, goal-achieving seemed like it was all of me, on me, and too often . . . for me. I would ask God to help me achieve my goals, “God, I’ve come up with what I want to do this year, and now, I’d like you to get in on it and help me make it happen!” There’s a lot of “I” in those last two sentences!
Then . . . a few years ago, I started coming up with vision statements for the year. It was like prayerfully dreaming of what December 31st could look like if certain things happened. I’d define the “certain things” after praying and melding what I wanted with what I thought God would want for me, my family, my church, and my ministry. A little less oblique than goals . . . less measurable, but far more meaningful.
But now, I’ve moved another step away from New Year’s resolutions, goals, and even vision statements. Now, I write down my prayers for the year. As I’ve gotten older and a little more mature in my faith, I’ve come to realize how dependent I am on God . . . how everything I plan on, work toward, hope for, or visualize is totally dependent on Him. It’s my role to pray, listen, think, collaborate, and obey. “Jesus, what is your prayer for me this year?” “God, what is your prayer for our family?” “Father, what is your prayer for Radical Mentoring in 2020?” As I’ve moved from resolutions to goals to vision statements to prayer requests, I’ve moved from being driven to being called. From it being mostly about me to it being mostly about Him.
How about you? Is what you want in 2020 connected to what He wants for you? Are your wants connected to things you truly value?
Instead of New Year’s resolutions, ask God to help you craft your prayer requests for 2020.
Scripture: And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. (1 John 5:14)