Every new year brings with it a list of expectations, hopes, and dreams. Often these take the form of New Year’s resolutions. We resolve to do this differently in the coming months. We resolve to start something new, or to end something old. We do all of this with the very best of intentions. But, as the saying goes, those good intentions are nothing more than paving material on the road to destruction.
Still, if we are honest with ourselves, there are things about our lives that we should aspire to change in the coming year. And, changing the calendar gives us as good of a reason as any to get started on those transformations. The problem is this; for many of us those good intentions will fade when the euphoria of newness wears off, boredom sets in, and adversity rears its ugly head. Most of the New Year’s resolutions I’ve made have withered and died on the vine by the time Lent comes around, usually in February.
So, what are we to do? Why don’t we stick with our resolutions? After all, we probably know we need to change. We may even sincerely want to change. So why is it so hard?
Well, if you’re like most people I know, New Year’s resolutions tend to be “big ticket” items. We resolve to lose 25 pounds. We resolve to stop smoking. We resolve to keep the house clean. Whatever the resolution, they tend to be substantial changes. Well, a few weeks down the road, when we have changed our eating habits and started exercising regularly but we don’t see any results on the scale… That can be HARD to take.
One problem with resolutions is that they are those big things we want to change about ourselves. They are monumental tasks, but they take time. Losing weight, or quitting smoking, or whatever the resolution, doesn’t happen because we decide it is important. We make progress not because we make the big decision to change our lifestyle. We make progress because we choose to get out of bed a little earlier today and go for a walk, or a run. We make progress not by throwing away a carton of cigarettes, but by deciding that I don’t need to smoke right now. Our success is tied to the small, seemingly inconsequential, decisions we make a hundred or more times a day. It is by making those small decisions and winning those little battles which leads us to eventually win the war.
But, wait! I don’t want to say that those big decisions aren’t important. Because they are VERY important. Without the big, resolution-like, decisions we would never make any changes at all. What is critical to sustainable change is balancing the big picture decisions with small changes in how we think and behave.
This isn’t just true for us as individuals, either. As a family we make similar big decisions which must be backed up with countless small choices. The same is true for our church. We make big plans to become this, or start that ministry… But, unless they are backed up by a myriad of small choices, little tasks that are easily overlooked, the large initiatives are doomed to fail.
We simply must be looking well ahead of where we are AND managing the minute details of life together in the here and now. I, for one, am excited about the possibilities before us in 2016 and beyond. As this days-old year unfolds, I hope you will join me in praying for God’s guidance both in the long-term, and in the near-term, as we seek to follow God’s call on our community of faith.