Friday, January 04, 2008

Rethinking Resolutions

Happy New Year! Since I've been on a blogging hiatus for three months, my resolution for 2008 is to be a better blogger. Not really, but I'll try.

I will confess, however, to getting caught up in the hype of the New Year and the symbolic "fresh start" it brings. And like many, I do like to set goals for the coming year in different areas of my life -- physical, mental, spiritual, relational, financial, etc. And like most, I tend to overdo it, get too ambitious, or focus on too many things at once.

Looking back on 2007, I met some of the goals I set 12 months ago, but fell short in others. My '07 successes include running at least one road race per month (not only did I run a race per month, I ran at least one race per week from Memorial Day to Labor Day); running at least four marathons (I ran five); running a sub 4-hour marathon (I broke 4 hours in three of the five marathons I ran in '07) and the secret goal I shared with just a few people -- to not have a single soft drink in all of '07 (and I still haven't had one four days into '08).

I fell a bit short in some other areas, like my goal to run 1,500 total miles in 2007 (I did around 1,461, still the most I've ever logged in a year). And I fell woefully short in other areas. Like my quest to read an average of a book per week last year (I only read 14), and my attempt to read straight through the Bible in year (I did make it out of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, but not out of the Old Testament).

So as I normally do this time of year, I've been thinking a lot about resolutions, but have yet to make any specific ones. And it seems that the area of life where it's most important to grow -- the spiritual arena -- is the area where it's most difficult to measure true growth. You simply can't measure spiritual growth like you measure the amount of weight lost, money saved, miles logged or books read. That's because spiritual growth has more to do with an inward attitude than outward action, which should cause us to think about the reasons for setting goals or making resolutions in the first place. What is our true motivation?

In the late 1700s, the famous American preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards made himself a list of 70 resolutions to live by. Among them:
  • to do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration.
  • to never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
  • to never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
  • to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I.
  • to never speak evil of anyone.
  • to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
  • to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, -- what sin I have committed, -- and wherein I have denied myself.
  • never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
Edwards' list looks much different than the list of resolutions one might set today. Edwards didn't pen a list of selfish pursuits to chase in his own power. Rather, his purpose was to glorify God and depend upon His strength. He knew his limitations. In the preface to his resolutions, Edwards wrote, "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake."

So as I think about what I'd like to accomplish this coming year, I'm trying to evaluate my attitude, monitor my motivation, and follow the exhortation given by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home