I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are knee-jerk reactions to life’s problems instead of strategic solutions. Because of that, they are extremely frustrating and fraught with failure. So, instead of proffering another list of resolutions, I humbly submit seven simple strategies to revolutionize your life continuously:
1. Pray — I cannot overemphasize the importance of prayer. Prayer is our communication channel with God. Prayer is so important, even Jesus prayed — and He IS God! Just like an army cannot effectively fight without strategic direction from a command center or a factory cannot manufacture a product without a design from headquarters, you will find yourself floundering if you don’t pray. While I’m here, let me say that when you pray and how long you pray are not nearly as important as that you pray.
2. Take care of yourself — I think it’s simultaneously sad and funny that many Christians consider the sanctuary of a building more important than how they treat their own bodies. This is ironic, because our bodies are the temple of God, not man-made buildings. At the end of the day, a building witnesses to no one but we are responsible for carrying the message of the Gospel to the world. And, frankly, it is impossible to witness to the world if we are sick and tired. We need to make sure we feed ourselves well. Eat good healthy food — avoid junk food. Drink plenty of water. Get plenty of rest. And, most of all, get moving! You don’t necessarily have to exercise vigorously but you cannot remain sedentary. We are created to move — so get moving.
3. Love others — This should be self-explanatory but it’s difficult for many to wrap their minds around. It is also critically important to Disciples of Christ because love is the hallmark of discipleship. Love is not an emotion, it is a choice that manifests from our regenerated spirits. In order to understand love, we must break it down into its elemental components: compassion and empathy. Compassion is simply having concern for people; that is, to have a vested interest in their well being. We are not only to be compassionate to those who share the same range on the faith spectrum but to everyone! Empathy, on the other hand, is the desire to understand and have regard for situations others must endure. I’ve said this before: if there is no empathy, there can be no true compassion; if there is no compassion, there can be no love; and if there is no love, then discipleship and salvation are suspect. Treat love as a verb, not a noun!
4. Activate Your Faith — there is a distinct difference between belief and faith. The Bible tells us that the demons believe and tremble. But faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of unseen things. Belief is simply acknowledgement of the existence of a person or thing; faith is confidence in the ability of a person or thing to produce. We are all given the measure of faith but, just like our muscles, we work them in different ways. And just like muscles left dormant tend to atrophy, likewise, so does our faith. Start exercising faith in small things — potty training your dog or speaking healing to a stubbed toe. When we see the results of our active faith, it encourages us to release faith for greater and greater things. I don’t know about you, but I’m working my faith to the “dead-raising” level!
5. Do Something New — are you in a rut? Stuck in a grind? Do something different! Read books of a different genre. Learn how to ride a horse (or a motorcycle). Take music lessons. Join Toastmasters or some public-service club. Just make sure that whatever it is takes you off your beaten path. You cannot grow without being stretched and you will never stretch yourself within the confines of your comfort zone!
6. Enhance Yourself/Enrich Yourself — Have you ever read Shakespeare? Tolstoy? Have you read any books by Napoleon Hill or Zig Ziglar? How much do you save and invest? Have you considered starting your own business? When is the last time you revamped your wardrobe. When was the last time you changed your hair? Have you considered continuing education? You need to ask yourself DAILY, “What Have I done to improve my life and the lives of others around me?” Then make it happen!
7. Lighten your load — The Bible tells us to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us. Some people carry around unnecessary baggage. Grudges, envy, and bitterness are all things that will weigh you down. Certain people, places, and things can be an millstone around your neck. Airlines charge you money for extra bags because extra baggage burns excess fuel! People come into your life to be a blessing or a lesson; learn to discern between the two. Love people and use things — not the other way around. And certain places can hold you back — ask God to show you both your Egypt (so you know what to leave behind) and your Promised Land (so you know where you’re going!
This list is just a high-level plan. You will have to spend time with God and with your mentors and trusted counsel to really flesh this out. Don’t conform to the world, instead be transformed by the continual renewing of your mind. Focus your thoughts on things that equip, encourage, and edify yourself. Dedicate yourself to a lifetime of growth and improvement instead of annual resolutions.
© 2017 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)