Unlocking The Most Important Question For Next Year

As we get ready to start a New Year tomorrow, many of us will be assessing how the year before went and looking forward (hopefully) to what’s to come.

Whether formal or informal, that kind of assessment is always helpful and one thing I added last year was to do more reflection more regularly – the sabbatical helped a lot with that. I now aim to assess weekly, and once again I’ll start a New Year aiming to journal from my Bible readings daily, but once a year an annual compass/ map reset is a great thing to do. 

In the New Year at Ivy I intend to be talking about getting alone with God and then sharing with others some GOD GIVEN GOALS, habits to practice and things to DO in areas like fitness, family, finance, faith (all of these topics and more by the way are addressed in my book The Man You Were Made To Be which will also soon be coming out as a study on Right Now Media). 

WHY SET GOD GIVEN GOALS?

Setting goals isn’t about achieving them outright as such; it’s about the journey they inspire. I don’t set goals because the goals in themselves necessarily get you anywhere, many of us will probably set similar goals, I’m sure my team Manchester United keep setting goals for every match – but this season they’re just not scoring them. 

I’m praying and dreaming and setting some God given dreams regarding what I want to do, places I’d like to go and so on, with Ephesians 3:20 in mind right now because having something written down to guide me forward and then occasionally looking back at them is something I have found helpful – and often I have been blown away when I find an old journal entry with a list of what I thought when I wrote them were big impossible dreams that had over time become a ‘done’ list by the grace of God! 

MY TO BE LIST

But rather than come up with another list of things to DO in 2024, what I want to focus on today as 2023 concludes is what or who do I want to BE, as a disciple/student/apprentice of Christ, living in and for the Kingdom of God, as I take the easy yoke? 

I think the most important question for this New Year is not what am I going to do, or not going to do. It’s not a do question, though I may do and not do various things as a result of the answers.

What kind of person does God want me to be?

To be more the man he created me to be, the husband, the dad/grandad/ the leader, the more like Jesus me? The ‘changed from glory to glory’ me?

What would that person look like in the way they interact with others, loving as God loves, living as Jesus lived?

What habits would cultivate his heart so the fruit of the Spirit would grow and flesh control less and less.

Wouldn’t he be more slow to speak, quick to listen, less easily offended than I am right now?

What would his life of prayer consist of in terms of rhythms, disciplines and daily devotions?

How would he handle the inevitable problems and frustrations of life?

How would his leadership leave others better and leave a legacy that honours his Lord?

How would he practice what he preached?

How would he treat people who don’t treat him the way he’d like to be treated?

What would his attitude to possessions be? How often would joyful generosity show up in his life?

How much room would he make in his life for God to show up supernaturally and change everything?

As I consider the man I was made to be and how the Holy Spirit wants to remake me into the image of Christ another year ends. I open the calendar and skimming on I see that – wow – before long another birthday beckons! The years really do seem to go faster, but rather than bemoan the passage of time I remember gratefully those who I have loved who won’t get to see 2024 except as part of that eternal cloud of witnesses cheering us on as we run another lap.

And as my Park Run times show I find it harder not to run a little slower physically each year perhaps, I press on to take hold of that for which I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus as I celebrate what Dallas Willard taught, that aging is not a loss — it’s a gain – God’s good plan for increasing our spiritual substance as we live under his blessing.  

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