pecaspers: a Blog in transition

January 14, 2013

Resolutions Have a Bad Reputation

Every New Year, millions of people claim they are making “resolutions” without really planning to discipline themselves to make the change stick. Because of this, some people would argue that even having New Year’s resolutions is pointless and just another meaningless–even bad–part of our culture. I think that line of thinking is ridiculous.

Just because most people play at making resolutions like they play at Santa Claus doesn’t make it a foolish thing to use the New Year as an opportunity to begin a new effort in personal growth. The rolling over of a calendar year is a great time to reflect on the year(s) now past and decide what needs to change for the year(s) to come. While the date is rather arbitrary, Jan. 1 is as good a day as any to set ourselves up for some self-discipline, and the cultural celebration of leaving the past behind to move toward a brighter tomorrow means that we can catch a little positive momentum from those around us–even if they aren’t as thoughtful and intentional in their resolutions as we are.

What dooms most resolution-makers to failure? Well, I’ve already mentioned that many don’t really have any intention to follow through. For those who actually want to see some change in their lives, there are two big flaws in most people’s plans. One is, in fact, the complete lack of a plan. Two is the utter vagueness of the resolution itself.

One of the most common resolutions is weight loss. Most people don’t attack that goal with a plan. I’ve done it before. I’ve set the goal of losing weight only to discover that months or years have gone by without me doing anything substantial to reach that goal. If you’re going to lose weight, then you have to have a plan. Any change takes time, and there are usually small steps to get that change to stick. But if you don’t know what steps you intend on taking, then it’ll be hard to take any. It’s also hard to gauge your success if you do make any progress. So, you have got to have a plan.

But if you’re resolution is just “to lose weight,” then you’ve run into my number two. If your target is just a haze, you’ll never hit it. You can’t measure success on a vague goal, either. Sure, you can pat yourself on the back for any little win, but you usually have nothing firm to hold on to.

With these things in mind, I’m resolving the following common things:

“To Lose Weight” – I am resolved to reach the end of 2013 at 200 lbs or less. I’ll spare you the details of my plan, but it includes daily sweating and a return to training like I have a race to run.

“To Read More Good Books” – In another post later on, I’ll see if I can list out the books I read in 2012. I try to rotate through some basic categories as I read. The Gospel, marriage, pastoral ministry, missionary biography, classic fiction, current fiction, and what I’ll call “special topics.” Right now, I’m reading The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler. Next will likely be the Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage which I should have read last year or before but didn’t. The Puritan classic, The Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter is probably my first pastoral ministry book for the year. I haven’t chosen my next missionary biography, but I’ve got a few on my shelves that I haven’t read yet. I often get my classic fiction fix via audiobooks, but I’m thinking I’ll pretty quickly plow through a copy of Dune that I pulled from the free bin at 2nd & Charles a while back. I often read fiction concurrently with heavier topics. Current fiction isn’t a priority worth planning, but I’ll see what the next big thing is in a few months. In “special topics,” I’ve already got a copy of Francis Chan’s Multiply, and I’d like to get Mohler’s Conviction to Lead. After that, it’s time to cycle back through categories…or adjust/add to my categories. …So many books, so little time.

I am further resolved that 2013 will be the year that I…

…Get my family out of poverty. This is going to happen as a simple reality of finding a new position in vocational ministry which is paid full-time. It is also the transition I am most excited about. I am… Nah, that’s a post for another time.

…Become pastor of a church. This too brings me a lot of hope when I think about it. I know God has a place for me, and I’m looking forward to finding and settling into it. I just hope I am not presuming on The Lord that my search will end before 2013 does.

…Become a gun owner. I jokingly tell people that I need a shotgun because I have a daughter on the way and need something to clean whenever the boys start coming over. That has some truth behind it, but there is also just the masculine instinct that tells me I ought to have a weapon which can be used against anything or anyone who threatens my family–snakes, zombies, intruders, an over zealous government, whatever.

…Become a father of two, one of whom is a daughter. I know, I know. That’s not really a resolution, but it a major transition that will occur this year.

I’m hopeful about all these things to come in 2013 and more. All of this is of course under God’s sovereign hand and you should read “if it is the Lord’s will” before and behind all of the above.

I’m going to have a great year…I just know it.

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