It’s that time of year again! Every January we’re reminded to take advantage of the new year and to make better choices than we did last year. Now is the time to lose weight, start exercising, conquer that bad habit, heal those broken relationships, dream big, set goals…
I have nothing against getting fired up for a better life. I’m a believer in making positive changes, and an even stronger believer that it takes strategic planning to get there. However, reaching my goals is not really a problem for me. God has blessed me. I’ve been able to set many significant goals in my personal life and as a leader, and through God’s grace I have achieved them.
I emphasize through God’s grace, because I am often my own worst enemy when it comes to achievement. I am driven. I don’t relax when there is unfinished business. My mind is constantly on the move, and I am given to anxiety. I act as if I am in control and the success of everything I am a part of depends on me.
Yes, I need to be responsible. No, the world doesn’t rest on my shoulders.
This approach to goals sabotages my energy and health. Years of living this way have taken a toll. Now when the stress is too great for too long, my body shuts down, I cannot function, and I have no choice but to stay in bed. I wish for a different approach for you, before you reach this point. And I wish for a different approach for me, to truly place Jesus in the driver’s seat of my life.
As I have prayed and pondered about this, I have sensed the Lord showing me what this different approach looks like.
Live fully in this day. Didn’t Jesus say not to worry about tomorrow, because today has enough worries of its own? (Matthew 6:34) Stress builds when we add tomorrow’s projects and next week’s deadlines to today’s plate. It also distracts us from the things at hand. When we approach this day (with its interruptions and unseen twists and turns) as a blessed adventure, we are in the flow of God’s grace, and not working against it.
Love the person in front of me. Loving our neighbor as ourselves means we pay attention to the person in front of us. They are not here to make our lives better and simply a means to achieve our own agendas. That person is more important than any goal looming over us. That person is someone whom Jesus loves deeply. We must care about their needs, and look for ways to be a blessing. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35).
Look for Jesus in this moment. There is a story in which a young man asks Jesus why He doesn’t do great miracles anymore, like He did in the Bible. During their conversation, the young man is blessed with a bottle of water when he is thirsty and a reward for finding and returning a wallet. However, he overlooks these blessings, thinking they just happened or are coincidences. Jesus then tells him, “How do you expect to see me in the big things, if you miss me in the little things?” Jesus is actively working in our lives. Let’s keep our eyes open to the little things with hearts of thanksgiving.
In this month of new beginnings, I invite you to join me in discovering a different approach to goals. May we be directed by the Holy Spirit and walk in God’s grace each day.