Thinking about the New Year

I’m beginning my annual personal evaluation of 2015. For my family and me, it was a year of transition. We moved to a new church, new preschool, new home and new area where almost everything has been different. We’ve experienced adjustments, and I’m now at the time every year where I begin to evaluate and plan. While I’ll not advocate specific resolutions, thinking on the upcoming new year is a good time to consider your spiritual well-being. Here are some thoughts as we move into 2016.

  1. No one sets a resolution to remain spiritually stagnant for the new year, but spiritual stagnation is often the result of the choices we make. Some things about our spiritual life are beyond our control–circumstances, changes, health issues, family issues, etc. But other things, like spiritual disciplines, we do control. May I make an observation? If your spiritual life did not develop as you had hoped in 2015, do something different in 2016. Don’t remain stagnant. If need be, use a devotional guide like My Utmost for His Highest, or a new Bible reading plan. Begin a prayer journal. Memorize a verse of Scripture every month, etc. In other words, add a discipline to your devotional life this year to avoid spiritual stagnation.
  2. Don’t think of surprises, transitions, or challenges as enemies to your spiritual life. Rather, allow God to use the circumstances you can’t see coming in the new year to drive you to seek him. Having to sense God’s direction with clarity this year forced me to pause, listen and discern God’s will. Instead of complaining or worrying about the unknown and unexpected, embrace it as an opportunity to grow closer to Christ.
  3. Build on your already established good habits. Maybe you enjoy a strong devotional life, attend church regularly, and serve in your church in some capacity. Amen! Continue in those practices and build on them in 2016. If you attend church 2x a month, then build on that habit and try for 3x. You can also use your area of service as a means of developing your spiritual life. God regularly uses my sermon preparation as a means of spiritual correction in my life. Take time to ask God how singing in the choir or praise team, teaching a children’s Sunday school class or serving as an usher can become a place of spiritual growth in your own life.
  4. Explore the God-ordained means of relationships as means of spiritual growth. One of the most important tools God will ever use to mold and change you is another person. Get to know people who are spiritually mature. Take them to lunch or have them over for dinner and ask them about their walk with Christ. Talk with those who have experienced similar challenges and circumstances to yourself. God gives us others so we don’t have to walk this Christian pilgrimage alone.

These thoughts are not exhaustive, but I trust they are encouraging. I hope and pray 2016 will be a year of spiritual growth in your life.

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