A statement of purpose for the new year

flickr: danielmoyle

I’m no great fan of New Year’s resolutions: quite the reverse.1 For a perfectionist like me, resolutions often come unstuck, resulting in legalism, guilt and (once I fail to live up to them) a spectacular throwing-off of the reins. Change becomes about meeting my standards rather than responding to the God who forgives and transforms me.

Once I realised this, I stopped making resolutions. But this year, I tentatively stuck my foot in the waters of the New Year’s resolution once again. My resolutions aren’t vows. They’re not promises. In fact, they’re not really resolutions (I don’t have enough confidence in myself for that!). They’re prayerful commitments, shaped by the Bible: a description of the life I want to live as a woman who’s received God’s grace (Titus 2:3-5, 11-14; 1 Tim 5:10).

Here are my eight resolutions – my statement of purpose for the new year.

  1. To keep Jesus at the centre. To seek his glory instead of my own, to receive his grace instead of wallowing in my guilt, to trust in his greatness instead of being overcome by anxiety, and to rejoice in his goodness instead of giving in to self-pity.2 To keep my eyes fixed on Jesus so I don’t grow weary in doing good (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV).
  2. To invest time in keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. To give the first part of my day to God’s word and prayer, even when I really need to get something else done. To read more faith-encouraging books than faith-destroying books. To have a go at memorizing a book of the Bible.3
  3. To put my primary responsibilities first. To love, help and care for my husband. To love, teach and train my children, especially my daughter, showing her what it means to be a woman of God. To be faithful and purposeful in caring for our parents. To care for our home, not giving in to laziness or neglect.
  4. To serve my brothers and sisters in Christ. To love and encourage younger women without worrying about what they think of me. To think less about whether our church serves my needs and more about how I can serve others and help them grow. To give time to the Christian friends and prayer partners that God has given me.
  5. To do good in our community. To chat about Jesus every chance I get, with gentleness, honesty and courage, trusting God to work in people’s hearts. To love, not counting the cost. To engage in people’s lives, not retreat. To keep an open home.
  6. To be prayerful, loving and brave in my writing and speaking, using them to glorify Jesus and encourage others. To make sure that online life – blogs, Facebook, Twitter, emails – don’t steal time that belongs to face-to-face relationships. To treat these things as a useful servant, not a master.
  7. To care for my body and health so I can serve Jesus more energetically. To trust God in times when my health, or my family’s health, gives way.
  8. To look to God’s grace, because I know that all of these things are beyond me.

I’d love to hear some of your resolutions – at least those that are suitable for public ears and encouraging to others!

  1. For a helpful perspective, see David Powlison on New Year’s Resolutions.
  2. See chapter 5 of Tim Chester’s You Can Change.
  3. Colossians, if you’re curious! A great book for keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus.

3 thoughts on “A statement of purpose for the new year

  1. Jean, thanks as usual for your post.

    I haven’t really made any resolutions as such. But I’ll share a couple of new goals.

    1. To read a poem with my wife once a week. As a very aesthetically challenged bloke, I am starting with Scott Orrick’s book A Year with George Herbert (HT: Justin Taylor). But if that gets too heavy maybe I will take refuge in Hillaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for light relief.

    2. To lead my church family, under God, and him being willing, to explore and decide upon a church/congregation planting option.

    In addition, some readers of your post may find some help in this post from Tim Challies rounding up some resources to help you keep your resolutions (also includes a link to Ligonier’s Burk Parsons saying why they are a good idea).

  2. I have a word as my key focus for this year – health. It may seem a selfish goal, but in order to be able to serve my family, my church and my community, I need to focus on my health for a short period of time.

    In addition to this, each month I am setting myself a book of the Bible to read/study, a book to read (after reading a really good book about reading, I’m intentionally prioritising what I want to read) and a health goal. This should help me stay realistic, but focused. If one month’s goals go unmet, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t lead me to that all-or-nothing thinking, where I just chuck in the year’s resolutions.

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