So, what’s it like around your house this New Year’s Eve? I would imagine that, for most folks, the gifts are all opened, the eggnog carton is empty, the Christmas tree is drying out, family is leaving town, the bowl games are getting better, and you’re trying to figure out how to spend this long, mostly boring, night while waiting for the 2015 ball to drop. I’m sure that, by late tonight, as I watch the throng celebrating in Times Square, I’ll say for the umpteenth time, “Who in the world would want to be in the middle of that mess?!?”
As an aside – one of my favorite New Year’s Eve stories to share is that year when we went to Lone Palm on December 31st for a fancy dinner with some good friends…only to discover that – at Lone Palm – the ball drops at 8:00 p.m. and everyone heads home for the night! If you know the traditional Club membership there, you understand.
With another New Year upon us, it’s also time for the annual obligatory stab at resolutions for 2015. Whether we make them or not, most folks at least talk about how they’d like for certain things in their life to be different as the calendar flips over to a new year. And, of course, for a variety of reasons, most resolutions are broken and many are only a distant memory by the end of January.
May I offer some help?
As you begin to think through your goals for the coming season of life, I would suggest the following guidelines for your consideration. If you’re expecting a listing of specific resolutions, this isn’t your read. That inventory is up to you. Rather, this is a simple (and, hopefully, profound!) filter to contemplate for whenever you seek to make some foundational changes in the way you live, think and act.
Be Real. Opt to live an authentic, transparent life. That’s hard for many of us in the south, where our culture (if not our theology) encourages us to, daily, sweep the dust under the carpet. Now, I’m not suggesting vomiting our lives all over others by posting your every move on Facebook, rather, why not live in front of others as you were designed by God? My struggle is making an idol out of my reputation. Throughout my life, many of my actions have been determined by what others would think and expect of me. While I’m not throwing caution entirely to the wind, I feel I will certainly live more freely with a higher level of authenticity.
Live Within Your Design. Let’s chase this one down a little more. To be more real, we need to know what authenticity is for us. How much do you know about yourself? How much time do you spend in introspection and self-awareness? Then, what do you do with that information? God wired us all differently (some more different than others…). Do you make an effort to figure out His design for your life, and then take steps to intentionally live within those boundaries? Whether it’s the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, the Enneagram system for how we manage our lives, or a host of other indicators, take time to figure out God’s design for your life and then resolve to operate within the spectrum He created for you. It’s no secret that life is better when lived the way God created us to live.
Be Still. Silence isn’t only golden at AMC Theatres. In our hurried, harried, high tech, fully connected world, silence is a rare commodity. But it’s a very beneficial resource, with immensely valuable and even curative properties for our lives. Be honest – how much of your wakeful day do you truly spend in solitude, not wired-in, not online, with no distractions nearby? Seriously, how much time do you spend just thinking? Leadership guru John Maxwell has a “thinking chair,” and devotes considerable time to this fruitful practice. Teacher and author Richard Rohr spends a good chunk of each day in silence, saying, “in that empty space…God is always able to speak to me, and I am sometimes able to hear. In that space, I find joy.”
Be Thoughtful. So, in our quest to become real, if we come to better understand God’s design for us, and we devote time to pondering these things, it only follows that we would want to live a more thoughtful life. The “thoughtful” I am suggesting doesn’t mean “helpful” in this instance, rather, living in such a way that indicates we have given thought to our decision-making process. I hate to even think of the things I’ve done in mindless fashion. For instance, the amount of time I’ve devoted to superficial conversation, even with those closest to me, is disturbing. My prayer is that we all become people of intention…and intention based on a deeper level of thought.
Be Unselfish. While in college I heard a pastor often say that the “epitome of sin is idolatry of the self.” Biblical admonition in this regard is clear. Go ahead, Google search for all the verses dealing with selfishness. Yet, we continue to put our own desires above others, and in front of what we know would please God. We are often passionate about the pursuit of our own pleasures, many times at the expense of others. So, what’s the best way to begin a move to unselfishness? Why not deal with that while you’re being still and thoughtful…?
Be Generous. Okay, so here it is – that suggestion you’ve been expecting from a development director. Not so fast, my friend! This isn’t at all about getting that end-of-the-year check in to the school. It’s about an entirely different way of life for many of us – buying-in to the concept of Biblical stewardship. I’m truly praying for a revolution of generosity, knowing that our world would be turned upside down if that were to happen. It would all start with an understanding that God owns it all (a claim that our Lord God Himself makes!), and we are called to be good and wise stewards of what God owns and permits us to enjoy. That’s right, even all those new gadgets that were under the tree this time last week, are part of God’s provision to us. I encourage each of us to, yes, take time to assess where we are on the generosity scale. Are we stingy and holding our possessions close? Or, are we sensitive to the needs around us and freely sharing? You know, I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and have yet to see a Brinks truck following the hearse into the cemetery. Why not resolve now to be a great and generous blessing to others. May the revolution begin with us!
Be Mindful Of Eternity. None of us are assured of our next breath. Reading the newspaper any day serves as a stark reminder that our life on this earth can unexpectedly end at the blink of an eye. It sounds trite to re-state the worn phrase, “Make every day count,” but it’s true. Why not stop at the end of the day, today, and assess if you made a difference in someone’s life? Are you living and working for the betterment of people and for the glory of God? As we live in light of God’s design, consider a new commitment to live in such a way where every day is a new world of opportunity to impact lives for the sake of the Kingdom. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to be involved in a ministry vocation, however, you have to be ministry-minded in whatever you do. Personally, I’d like to stand before God one day and testify that, through Christ in me, I truly lived in such a way that brought honor and glory to Him.
However, I confess, I need to make some changes for that to be my passion. Yet, that is my desire. Where do I start? Rather than make a list of resolutions that can be easily broken, I think I’ll start by re-reading today’s blog post!
Mr. Steve Wilson is the Director of Advancement at Lakeland Christian School. To reach Steve, you may email him at Swilson@lcsonline.org.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net