This is the time of year when many assess and evaluate the past year, and look forward and ponder the upcoming year. I am not sure what you think about “resolutions” and how they fit into your understanding of God’s sovereignty, important endings and beginnings celebrated through anniversaries or year ends. Here are four thoughts, three general and one specific to this link below.
First, my sense is that those time-markers are good reminders to reflect on God, His call in my life, life and ministry of the previous year, life and ministry in the coming year, Lord willing, family, etc. It is true that one does not need a year end or an anniversary to do this reflection. But in our busyness of life, we often don’t have the time to do that. Additionally, we also need to be careful of incessantly over scrutinizing because that may well keep us from engaging clearly in what God has for us now in the present.
Second, often resolutions are stated and undertaken, even among Christians, as if one has the will-power on one’s own to enact the change. In fact, it is interesting in that there is a sentiment that as often as resolutions are made, they will be broken or terminated after a short time after having failed again. True spiritual change is impossible apart from the Holy Spirit. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: Apart from Me you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). For Christians, we undertake these changes based on the indicative of what God has done in Christ by the Holy Spirit. If we forget or overlook the indicative, we end up in moralism. And moralism fails before God even if one is a successful moralist. Before God, there is no successful moralist. Grounded in the indicative of what Christ has done, we then engage in the imperative of living out that Christian life. And another good thing to remember is that those resolutions ought to lead to godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).
Third, Socrates made the statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This is an accurate statement. But when you probe the reason why, we would quickly go in a different direction than Socrates. His rationale for making that statement would be far different than what is taught in the Bible. As with Paul, we examine our lives to see if we are of the faith (2 Cor. 13:5), to use time wisely knowing the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-17), to discern where sin resides/remains (mortify) and where we need to grow (sanctify), to purify ourselves as we live circumspectly before God now (coram Deo) and as we look towards His appearance (1 Jn. 3:2-3), to be conformed into the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29), to do all as unto the Lord (Col. 3:17, 23-24), for His glory (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 10:31).
Finally, and specifically, I confess I do not like when a resolution is stated as a “guarantee.” But it is important to note that He does not promise success, but rather improvement in ministry leadership. You should understand improvement as growth and maturity, sanctification and increasing Christlikeness. All of us need that; none of us can do it on our own. As you lay these, and other, resolves before the Lord, you confess your sin in how you have not lived as well as you have taught/preached, and then, secondly, you ask God the Holy Spirit to give you the will, the desire and the power to change.
Having stated my concern and qualification, I include Ron Edmonson’s list, “10 Resolutions Guaranteed to Improve Your Leadership.”
Here are 10 resolutions guaranteed to improve your ministry leadership:
- I resolve to never compromise my character in my search for progress.
- I resolve to consistently be walking by faith.
- I resolve to pray earnestly before I make major decisions.
- I resolve to surround myself with wise and moral influencers.
- I resolve to protect my family time while working in ministry.
- I resolve to make my personal health a priority.
- I resolve to allow trials and turmoil to draw me closer to Christ and shape my character for good.
- I resolve to love the unlovable.
- I resolve to pray for my enemies, extend grace liberally, and never hold a grudge.
- I resolve to allow at least a few people access to know and speak into the deepest and most private parts of my life.
*Edmonson serves as pastor of Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN. He writes that he is passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner. He has been in full-time vocational ministry for over 8 years.