Many of my friends and I spend the last weeks of December writing goals for the coming year. While one week is as good as another and the only difference is the turn of a calendar page, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a great time to spend in reflection on the past year and preparation for the New Year.
I often find myself setting goals that are outward accomplishments rather than ones that show internal growth. Yet, as a Christian, my spiritual maturity and influence on others are very important to me. I know I need to be intentional about spiritual growth and that keeps me faithfully running toward the finish line of my life, but putting into words goals that reflect character development is, well, hard.
This year, I’m taking a different tact.
- Where am I at now?
- Where do I want to be?
- How am I going to get there?
To figure that out, I comprised a list of questions for myself and my Bible study group that help us look at the past, future, and present. I’d like to share this list with you.
Take time to consider your answers.
- Answer one or two questions a day for the next couple of weeks.
- Keep a journal if that helps you corral your thoughts.
- Build accountability into your reflection by involving a friend.
- Use the questions as conversation starters with your family. Have one family member record answers and get back together at the six-month midpoint to check your progress.
This list is not inclusive. As you go along, you may ask yourself other questions. The questions aren’t completely original or, at least, I found others on a parallel course. For a more complete look at life development and goal setting, check Tony Stoltzfus’ book, “Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach.”
Questions to ask yourself:
- How have you seen God at work in the past year — in your own life, the lives of those around you, or your church or small group?
- In the last year, what new thing have you learned about God, the Bible, Jesus, or how to live the Christian life? What new insight have you gained?
- How have you seen yourself grow spiritually in the last year? What fruit of the Spirit is more evident in your life?
- What Christian book (fiction/non-fiction) did you read this past year that you would recommend?
- What Christian book is on your Want To Read book?
- What Bible topic would you like to investigate?
- List five of your talents or hobbies. Brainstorm ways you can use those interests and abilities for God’s Kingdom.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your level of spiritual maturity? Your connections with people? Your passion for sharing the Gospel? Your spiritual disciplines of prayer and bible study? Your coping mechanisms under stress, conflict, or opposition? Your ability to love unconditionally? Your ability to trust God and to act in obedience based on that trust?
- Who would you like to see come to faith in Christ? Who would you like to see become more committed to their relationship with God? Who would you like to see step forward in Christian leadership or service?
- If money, time, and energy were no object, what would you like to do for the Kingdom of God?
What is keeping you from accomplishing that?
- What Bible verse/bible passage would you like to commit to memory?
- What relationships would you like to develop or strengthen?
- Everyone has a spiritual “Achilles heel” where they are tempted more easily. What is yours? What steps can you take to strengthen yourself in that area?
As you answer these questions, you’ll see emerging goals. You’ll have a better sense of where you are lacking, what is important to you, and how you can strengthen yourself. For those things you cannot control, you’ll see an emerging list of prayer concerns. Write them down!
In closing, let the words of Hebrews 13:20,21 guide you as you move into the New Year and toward your finish line:
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Celebrate with me. This is the 501st post of Grace on Parade. If you’ve been one of my faithful readers, would you put a comment below? Your cvomments and personal emails encourage me so much.
Happy New Year. Let’s make it a great year together. And I’ll meet you at the finish line.