Happy New Year! I don’t know about you but I take New Year’s Eve and transitioning to a new year very seriously. It’s a natural time of the year to consider life as a whole and to evaluate goals and progress. I didn’t do my normal questions from past year, which have been posted in previous blogs. Instead, I looked at a few areas of life and worked through them to help focus some of my goals and plans for 2016. I basically broke things down into these categories: Preparation, Places, People, and Practices.
This area has to do with personal growth. Things that I might want to do in order to become the best representation of Christ and the best version of myself that I can be. This included things like Bible reading, scripture memorization, prayer, exercise, reading other books, etc. We all must look at growing as a lifestyle choice. No one knows it all and everyone hates those who think they do. Schedule time to learn, grow, and prepare for the future. The payoff will be worth it in 364 days.
As I was moving into the new year over the last week, I’ve been considering what life is really about for me and what I feel is essential in making a difference. I came back to Matthew 28:19-20 and was challenged once again about making disciples, not just at “home” but around the world. Whether it’s El Salvador, or India, the point is that I had to look at areas of influence. We all have them. God has given us specific areas where our influence is greater and more powerful. I have the opportunity to travel but just because someone may not doesn’t limit their reach. Take some time and consider how you can reach new and different places in 2016. This could be through social media or your job. Just notice the places you already go and make that a “place” that you want to make a difference in 2016.
Certainly this is one of the most important decisions/areas to look at in 2016. We all have people that we connect with; some on a greater, deeper level than others. As Jesus is our prime example here, He took time and prayed about the people He would spend 3 years of His life discipling. I feel like it’s crucial each year to prayerfully consider the people God has placed in our life and ask how to better serve and influence them in the coming year. There is literally nothing more important than investing in people and developing meaningful relationships. BUT make sure those relationships are healthy and growing and moving in the same direction. Even Jesus had a Judas who misunderstood the relationship completely.
This final area is about taking time for certain things like sabbath, or vacation, family time or traditions. There have to be certain practices in our lives that we won’t compromise. We all need these times in our lives. These include core values and essentials to who we become as people. Determining what your practices will be in 2016 will vastly help in making 2016 successful. How much margin do you have? How much will you set aside for silence and solitude? How much will you give to technology or away from it?
A couple other things to consider as you move into 2016. Choosing a theme or word. Take a few moments and consider what things seem to be happening in your life. Maybe there is a recurring theme or ideal? Maybe there is something the Lord has been reminding you of or about? Here are a few things that may help you. My word for this season…maybe year is “awaken”. With Star Wars The Force Awakens to just feeling like I need an “awakening” in my own life, this is where I am focused right now. Other people have chosen words or themes like these: freedom, peace, joy, liberty, fearlessness, etc. What is God speaking to you about?
Another thought is to make a journal of things that you give thanks for each day. Maybe also take a pic-a-day challenge to record your life in images. Recording your life and daily activities is great in helping stay the course. And even though making a difference is a huge deal, there’s no reason it can’t be fun. So snap away! Write it down. Talk about it. Blog it out. Share your life with those around you and those who are far away. Make 2016 great. Start today!