Unless you live under some rock somewhere, you or someone you know is probably working on making resolutions for 2018. That’s a good thing. We should all strive to improve ourselves, no matter what stage of life we are in.
I’ve got about 5 items on my personal resolution list, and our family has also sat down and made some goals together. If you aren’t one for resolutions, I encourage you to at least give it a shot this year. Make just one. If you’ve already got your list together, great! As much as we need and want to improve things in our secular life, don’t forget to include spiritual goals in your list of resolutions.
Here is a list of 8 ideas for spiritual resolutions for 2018. These don’t get into the specific details, because that will be different for each person. Adam & Leah Faughn from A Legacy of Faith did a great podcast this past week that discussed how to put some details into your resolutions so that it is easier to stay focused and accomplish them. I encourage you to check it out here.
- Read your Bible. Maybe you are one who doesn’t like to do a lot of reading. I’m not going to come in here saying that if you don’t read at least 20 books a year, then there’s something wrong with you. However, keep in mind that we are commanded in Scripture to read God’s word on a daily basis (Romans 10:17, Acts 17:11, II Timothy 2:15). Several people try to read the Bible through in a year. That’s a fantastic goal that I think everyone should shoot for. Depending on the translation you use, there are roughly 775,000 words in the Bible. If the average person reads roughly 200 words per minute, that means you only have to spend roughly 10-11 minutes per day reading the Bible to complete it in a year. That’s really not that much, especially when we consider how much time we spend browsing Facebook and watching TV. If you really struggle with reading, make a goal to read the Old Testament this year and the New Testament next year. Whatever you do, just make sure you a reading the Bible.
- Spend time in prayer. Just like reading your Bible, we are also commanded to spend time each day speaking with our Heavenly Father (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). Spending time in prayer in something you must be purposeful about. When you eat as a family, pray together to thank God for the meal. Don’t be embarrassed to do this in restaurants. Find some habitual time during the day to talk to God.
- Create an area in your house for prayer and study. This is one that personally helps me a lot. I get distracted very easily, and I can focus much better if I can be by myself. Find an area in your house where you can go in order to be alone. This may require rearranging some furniture. Make sure the entire family knows where this area is at, simply so they won’t bother you while you are there.
- Send Cards. There are a lot of people that struggle daily. Health problems, family issues, depression, death. You name it. A handwritten note, or even a simple card, can really do a lot to bring a little light into a day that seems pretty dark. There may also be someone celebrating, and you need to let them know you are celebrating with them (Romans 12:15). Make a goal to send at least a couple cards per week to some people. This would also be a great goal as a family, and have the card signed by everyone in your family (kids included). To do this, make sure you plan ahead and keep a stack of cards and stamps on hand.
- Start a family Bible time. If you are already doing this, that’s fantastic. Keep it up, because it’s easy to slack off. However, if you’ve never had family Bible time, make an effort to start it this year. Sit down with your family and talk about the plan and how you want to do it. Let your kids have input into the plan, and make the study age appropriate. When we first started doing this, our kids were very young, but I want to read the entire Bible to them. So, we started in Esther and read a chapter each night, then talked about what it meant. The book of Esther flows much like a story, so it went great with the kids. However, we went to the book of Matthew next, and it did not go well at all. It was a struggle to get them to listen, so we had to figure out something else. They were simply too young to sit still for me to just read to them, especially reading words they didn’t even understand. If your kids are older, that may work fine. For younger kids, there are great resources out there that you can use. One night each week could also be used to make cards as a family to send to people, which would take care of another goal on this list.
- Increase your giving. If you’ve never given before to your congregation, not only would it be a great plan to start this year, it’s actually commanded (I Corinthians 16:1-2). Start with anything, because something is better than nothing. Over time, as you realize that giving a little isn’t going to make your budget fall apart, begin to increase it throughout the year. If you already give regularly, make an effort to increase the amount in 2018. If you were blessed with a raise this year, it’s a great time to increase your giving. If you’re married, make sure you sit down with your spouse to discuss this. If you are both on the same page about the amount that will be given, you are more likely to maintain it all year.
- Visit someone who is sick or in a nursing home. For some reason, this one has always been a hard one for me. I have great intentions, but I always find a reason to talk myself out of going (such as feeling like I’m intruding). If you plan your visit and put it on your calendar, then you are less likely to skip it. Start with at least one person each month. If you’ve never visited before, then you’re already doing a lot more than before. You can also go sit with a family while someone is in surgery. The family always appreciates having someone to talk to during those times. Since my work is close to our local hospital, when it’s not flu season I try to keep a list each week of the members of our congregation who are there, then go visit a few of them during my lunch break. You will be surprised how much this will grow your relationships with your Christian family.
- Talk to a friend or co-worker about Christ. For some of you, this may be the hardest goal on the list. It requires you to get out of your comfort zone (maybe a little, maybe a lot). You might actually be surprised to find out that the person you are talking to actually wants to have the conversation. Most people have some kind of thoughts or feelings about God and the Bible, and they will talk about it if the opportunity arises. This is one you definitely need to plan ahead. Think about someone you want to talk to. Each personality is different, so think about how you want to start the conversation so that the other person will be accepting to it. Be purposeful about when to start the conversation. Starting that talk when your co-worker is scrambling to meet a deadline will probably not go over well, so be aware of what is going on. You’ll find that each successive conversation is progressively easier than the one before it.
This list is by no means all-inclusive. It’s simply intended to be a few ideas that will get you thinking. Make yourself a list, whether it’s 2 goals or 20. Write them down and put them somewhere you will see them. Above all else, plan to be a better, stronger Christian at the end of 2018 than you are right now.