While goal-setting resources are numerous—and readily available this time of year—and while many are helpful in identifying goals and intentions, few have focused on two of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ.
Your typical goal-setting system goes through a range of exercises to help you evaluate your season of life, your past experiences, present opportunities, and future aspirations taking into account, of course, your unique interests, skills, and passions. Identifying our strengths and passions? Helpful.
Evaluating how we spent our time, money, and energy (and whether it was beneficial or detrimental)? Helpful.
Dreaming of how we want to be remembered when we’re older? Helpful.
The problem is, we can chase goals and accomplishments and success all day long and still waste our lives! After all, “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NLT)
So whatever your feelings on goal setting or New Year’s resolutions, pay attention to these two questions as you begin this new year.
1. How will I grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ this year?
I’ll never forget typing up the manuscript eight or nine years ago for a revised edition of one of my grandpa’s books, and I came across this question:
Am I more like Jesus now than a year ago?
The question stopped me in my tracks. As basic as the question is, I found I had become so busy doing so many things for Jesus when I really needed to stop and ask myself if I was becoming more like Him.
How easy it is for us to get busy or complacent or distracted! How often we put our spiritual growth on the back-burner, preoccupied with the busyness of everyday life. We might hear a compelling sermon or read a challenging book that rouses us to action, but how long do our good intentions last? Do we continue toward growth?
Are we intentionally, actively growing as disciples of Jesus?
God invites us to come to Him. As Christians, we agree that Jesus is our only Savior, and we must be changed on the inside. But so many of us fail to realize that as disciples of Jesus, we must continually come to Him. We must continually be changed by Him.
Yes, we have the righteousness of Christ and are fully justified by the work of Jesus on the cross, but to mature as followers of Jesus, we must continually put off the old self and put on the new (Ephesians 4:20-24). We must let the Holy Spirit guide our lives; then we won’t be doing what our sinful nature craves (Galatians 5:16 NLT). We must let God transform us into new people by changing the way we think. Then we will learn to know God’s will for us, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2 NLT).
Friend, we must abide in Jesus!
In John 15, Jesus makes it very clear that unless we are abiding in Him we won’t bear any fruit! In fact, verse 5 tells us that apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. Activity that makes an eternal difference comes from abiding in Christ!
So as we begin this new year —
- Reflect: Am I more like Jesus now than a year ago?
- Ask: How will I grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ this year?
Need help? Start by establishing one of these faith routines in your life or grab one of these highly recommended devotionals to read each day. I’m also working on a really meaningful resource for you to help you be intentional about growing as a disciple of Jesus this year. Sign up here to stay in the loop!
The second question to ask as we begin a new year is this:
2. How will I help my family move toward Jesus this year?
This is discipleship. As parents, we are leading our kids one way or another. To whom or what are we leading them? Through our actions, attitudes, words, and day-to-day living, we are teaching our kids. What is our example teaching?
May we be parents who commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word, repeating it, living it, and instructing our children in it. May we talk about it when we’re at home and when we’re on the road, when we’re going to bed and when we’re getting up. (Deuteronomy 6). May we be parents who lead our kids to Jesus!
- Reflect: Am I leading my kids to Jesus or hindering their growth?
- Ask: How will I help my family move toward Jesus this year?
Need help? Grab our surprisingly simple plan for getting in the Word together as a family or use our Family Scripture + Prayer Calendar to help your whole family grow in the Word and in prayer! (*Use code ForTheFamily for an additional 25% off!!*)
This can be a year of tremendous growth for both you and your family, and I pray it will be!