Month: December 2020

Why I never make New Year Resolutions

I am a very goal focused person and always have something I am working on or working towards, but I never make New Year Resolutions.  I have a few reasons

Studies have shown that less than 25% of people stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.  The chances of your sticking to a New year’s resolution is very low.

New Years Resolutions tend to focus on what you want to do or not do.  They are performance-based goals.  Making goals like this when you are on holiday, sets you up for failure.  Either because you can not start until you get home, or it is easy to do on holiday but difficult to incorporate into everyday life.

It is easy to get carried away on New Years Eve and make wide, sweeping declarations which are not realistic or achievable.  I will NEVER eat chocolate again or this year I will exercise EVERYDAY. 

Instead of New Years Resolutions I like to focus on what do I want to BE or what do I want MORE of in my life.   What I want to BE is to what God created me to be.  Every year I want to be more my true self, the person God made me to be and I want MORE of God in my life.  That is all.  I want to be more me, and I want more of God each and every year.

All my goals, achievements and aspirations flow from that.  Every step I choose in the new year take me closer to God and closer to the person God created me to be, my best, authentic self.

Many years ago I listened to a great audio book called ‘My One Word – Change your life with Just one word’ by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. I love this book and it changed the way I look at a new year.  In this book, the authors suggest finding one word to govern your year, kind of like a theme for the year.  So instead of setting resolutions use one word to direct your bible reading, your prayer life, the skills you seek and your development.  I have followed this for about 10 years, and I love the process of God revealing my word to me and watching as God breaks down and teaches me all the aspects and variations of this one word.  Words I have had in the past have been revolution, restoration, healing, freedom, soaring and surrender.  The word for 2020 was CLARITY. During the year I sort to clarify who I was, what I believe and clarifying my purpose.  Although many unexpected things happened in 2020, my word and my mission of pursuing Clarity did not change, and God revealed so much of my character, His character and our relationship in that one word. 

When considering your word for 2021, reflect on these questions…

  • What kind of person do you want to become this year?
  • What drives your desire to be this kind of person?
  • Describe the characteristics of this kind of person. Make a list of words based on this description.
  • Reduce your list to ten words or less and research those words. Use the dictionary and your Bible, perhaps a thesaurus.
  • Choose one word from your list to be your one word for this year.
  • Also choose a Bible verse that speaks to you about your chosen word and memorize it. This will provide a foundation of truth you can continually return to and will fuel your hope to change.
  • What initial expectations do you have regarding the impact of your word?

“My One Word provides us with a lens, with a new way of seeing. It’s a tool to train our eyes. It helps us frame the way we process the world around us and what happens to us.

Mike Ashcraft

A Time for Christmas reflection.

I went to see a play tonight based on the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.  It has always been one of my favourite stories, probably in part because I was in the play when I was about 10 years old and I loved the experience.

Watching as an adult, reflecting on the message of the story is different though.  It stuck me that we can all benefit from a visit from each of the ‘spirits’ in the story.

Scrooge is visited by 4 spirits over Christmas Eve and through the process he is forced to examine the choices he has made in his life and what direction he wants to go in.

The first is his old partner who came to warn him to change.  The second is the Spirit of Christmas Past, which reminds him of what he was like when he was younger and explains how he got to be the angry, greedy man.  The third is the Spirit of Christmas Present, who shows him what his employee and his nephew are doing for Christmas, both are joyful and cheerful despite not having the wealth, that Scrooge values so highly.  The last is the Spirit of Christmas Future, who shows him the future consequences if he does not change his character.

For us now in modern times the exercise of reflecting on the past year, our present and our future is useful, especially at this time of year.

Looking back over the year, celebrating, and remembering the special moments and learning from our mistakes or struggles.  Considering if we are where we want to be right now in the present. Are we using this Christmas to celebrate Jesus by demonstrating his love to those around us and being joyful and thankful?

Pondering our future. What do we want to ‘be’ next Christmas? Where do we want to grow? What new opportunities are we going to explore in the next year? What learning and developing do we want in our character and our Christian walk? 

In the end of A Christmas Carol Scrooge does change and he becomes generous and caring. The story ends happily and hopefully.  He decides to hold on to the lessons that the Past, Present and the Future has taught him, to make him a better person all year around.  A great lesson for us all. 

Scroogle reflects with this great quote:

“I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” 

Charles Dickens

When you are Called

When you’re sitting in church, listening to the notices asking for volunteers for the worship team and you feel a little nudge saying, ‘You could do that’. Do you obey and sign up?

When you hear your neighbour has lost their job and you feel a wee tug in your heart saying, ‘Go and help them.’ Do you obey and help?

When you’re sitting with a friend over coffee as she tells you her marriage is struggling, and the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray with her now. Do you obey and offer to pray with her right then?

These little moments are opportunities to follow the call of God and obey. When we are faithful and obey with the little things, God will trust us with the bigger things.

I have heard it said God will call us according to our gifts and talents. God created us all with different gifts, abilities and strengths, and it is good to work within those strengths, within our passions and interests.

But don’t limit God by working only within the things you already know or are good at.

How do you know what other hidden talents or character traits could be developed if you don’t step out and try different things? God knows best what you are capable of and He will equip you for any purpose He calls you for, but you might not have everything you need at the start of the process. Obey in faith, and trust God for provision of all you need as the journey continues.

I’ve also heard people say that if a calling is a struggle or too difficult, then it must not be from God. Some people say your calling should be natural and easy for you. I disagree.

Don’t use this as an excuse to not take on something that seems like an impossible challenge, or to give up. Following God’s call may not be easy, and it might not ‘feel’ natural—especially at the start. Be wary of quitting something and classifying it as not being your calling too soon just because it feels too hard or too unfamiliar. Push through. Then the growth will come.

If you think you have been called by God to do something big, a calling that will have an impact on your life or those around you, consider it seriously. Pray about it, study the Bible, and talk with God. Pray for clarification and confirmation. Talk with people who are involved. Take advice from trusted Christian friends. Seek advice from wise and spiritual leaders around you. Be sure you have a calling from God before you follow. Then obey and trust the journey.

Be prepared to step up and step out of your comfort zone. Be prepared for surprises. God often doesn’t do things the way we expect or would prefer.

The outcome may be surprising, unexpected or even disappointing. But that is our human perspective, not God’s all-knowing eternal perspective.

Our plans can never be as well-planned or as imaginative or as intricate as the plans of God, the Creator of the Universe.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”
John F. Kennedy

(except from ‘Footfalls’ by Staci McLean