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A New Year's Resolution that Can Work


Every year most of us make New Year’s resolutions to make changes in our lives that will make us better people. Researchers tell us that by the second week of February, 80% of those resolutions fail. We all want to be better, do better, and the New Year does seem to be the appropriate time to start that process.

While I won’t get into all the reasons why we don’t follow through on our resolutions, I believe two reasons stand out. One is uniquely spiritual: it is our flesh or human nature that resists changes to make us better people or to be more like Jesus. The second one is practical: we make too many resolutions.

One of my favorite books is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. In the past 500 years, the book has been translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible. Kempis’ sole goal was to become more like his Savior.

In this book, he shares many concepts from Scriptures on how to do just that.

One of his most powerful beliefs was his challenge to work on one area of our lives every year. Just one! Kempis declares that if we do that every year, in short order we will be very much like Christ. Now he doesn’t believe we will become sinless or perfect, but our lives will consistently look more like our Lord if we devote ourselves to this one change.

Think of the possibilities one change can make. Say you want to quit smoking, or you want to start giving 10% of your money to your church, or you want to develop a consistent exercise program, or you want to pray one hour a day when you wake up.

As you devote yourself to this one goal or better yet, lifestyle practice for an entire year, think how this new habit will literally become a part of you. If you live for another 20, 30, or 40 years, incredible changes can take place.

I might even suggest that if you decided to make one change every six months, then in ten years, twenty new habits have taken hold of your life. Talk about a personal revolution.

So what should be that one resolution or lifestyle change? How does one go about deciding that question? My suggestion is to make a list of things you would like to change in your life. Then, prayerfully prioritize your most important needs or desires. When you settle on the “one” thing you will devote yourself to, begin to research the best ways to make your resolution a reality in your life.

Share your one thing with trusted people who will encourage you or even challenge you to stay the course. Obviously pray about it faithfully and develop the plan that will give you the greatest chance of success.

As I have gotten older, I realize more and more that rather than come up with numerous lofty goals, I need to simplify my priorities to do the most important things. Then passionately pursue those priorities with God’s help and others who will encourage me when I need it.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

You were made in God’s image to fulfill a destiny he has outlined for you. Everyone has a destiny and focusing on just that one resolution can start the journey.

My prayer is that all of us will take to heart this admonition to become more like Jesus, one change at a time. At the end of the year, we can look forward and say with renewed confidence, “Happy New Year!”


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