I still remember the moment. I had invested six months, hundreds of dollars, and countless training hours leading up to my attempt to run across Tennessee in a 314-run (500K) called Vol State in the heat of July 2016. The first day had been difficult, yet I had managed fourth place and 98 miles by […]
As many of us face record-low temperatures across the nation, the temptation grows to stay inside where there is warmth and comfort. While this may be fine for dealing with cold weather, it is not an adequate response for our spiritual lives. God calls us to move forward in faith, not to stay comfortable.
How can we move forward in faith in the new year? Each year, I’ve taken time to set new spiritual goals. Some have worked; others have not. Over the past 20 years, six areas have stood the test of time in moving toward greater intimacy with God and impact in the lives of others.
Impact Area 1: Commit to Serving Others
Jesus came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. He also calls us to serve one another.
One of his most powerful teachings came through the most unlikely example of washing the feet of his friends in John 13. He challenged his disciples to likewise serve others to show his love.
Washing feet might not sound exciting, but it’s how God made a tangible impact in the lives of his friends on his last night before his death. Whether washing feet or washing dishes, we can find small yet powerful ways to serve others today.
Impact Area 2: Commit to Starting Small
Many New Year’s resolutions fail because they are too big. I’m all for dreaming big, but dreams without a plan to accomplish them are doomed to failure.
Instead, it is more helpful to begin with a smaller goal that contributes to a larger goal. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, finishing a 5K would be a reasonable smaller goal that builds toward your larger dream.
The same is true spiritually. Too many people claim they will read the Bible in a year only to end in the Exodus with the Israelites. Instead, the goal of five minutes of Bible reading a day in the New Testament would get you through the New Testament in a year.
Impact Area 3: Consider Giving Up Everything
On the other end of the spectrum, we must remember God calls us to devote all of our life to him. We must be willing to give up everything to follow Christ. We dare not become the rich young ruler who leaves Jesus because we are unwilling to give up our comfort for his kingdom.
God may not call you to sell all of your possessions and give the money to the poor, but we can tell God, “Everything I have is yours. My life, my possessions, my abilities, my home. I will go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do, anywhere and anytime.”
If we can have this attitude and really mean it, God will work through us in tremendous ways. Our goal should be to respond as Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Impact Area 4: Ask, “If I Started Over Today, I Would…”
The new year is a time to consider new beginnings. As we look at the year ahead, it can be helpful to ask, “If I started my life over today, I would…” and begin to pray and dream. Would you live somewhere else? Study a new language? Attend a new school? Seek a new career?
As you reflect on your desires, ask God to show you which of these interests you should pursue. Instead of quitting your job to head to the beach, maybe God wants you to be begin studying for a new career or adjusting your schedule in some way to refocus your life more on other priorities.
Impact Area 5: Write Your Future Biography Today
When your life is over, what do you want people to remember about you? Most people are unintentional about their legacy, leaving their story for others to write or simply to leave unwritten at all.
However, we can take responsibility and begin working toward a particular legacy–if we know what legacy we intend to leave. You may not reach all of your intended goals, but you’ll reach more of them if you try than if you don’t.
Impact Area 6: Celebrate Daily Progress
Don’t forget to celebrate daily progress. Others will mock your efforts or more often not even care about your goals. You must celebrate early and often whenever progress is achieved.
Yes, you can celebrate failures too. Sometimes failure will lead to new methods to reach a goal. Other times, failure will reveal which goals are more important to pursue than others. However, if we celebrate progress, we can remain positive through the ups and downs of life’s journey and continue to move forward in faith.
These six areas will change your life and the lives of others–if you apply them. Also, don’t feel the need to take on all six impact areas at once. Maybe choosing one area to begin is enough for your life today. The goal is progress.
Ask yourself, “Will lives be changed by the way I live today?” If so, you’re on the right track. Make 2018 the year you move forward in faith.
Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.