Welcome to 2014! It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities of the upcoming year and it’s fun to pray and dream and plan. But it’s also a little overwhelming and I can’t help but feel this intense pressure to come up with the perfect “word of the year” and buy a fancy planner and work sheets to make sure my year’s not a huge flop.
The more I think and pray about 2014, the more I feel God pressing on my heart not to get overwhelmed with the New Year’s hype. Ever so gently He’s reminding me that “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
So instead of coming up with the perfect word or verse or list of goals for this year, I’m looking to the life of Jesus. If Jesus were to have made a few goals for His ministry here on earth, what they would they have been? After looking at the gospels and the life of Christ, here are five observations I’ve made.
5 Ways to Thrive in 2014
1. Make a plan, and then be willing to throw out the plan.
I’m a go-er and a do-er and I enjoy making a plan. But I’ve learned that it’s good to hold our plans with open hands and be willing to abandon them completely when the Father leads us to. More than likely, this year is going to throw us some curve balls and the things we’d hoped to accomplish, may not happen. However, if we’re willing to throw out our plan and go where the Spirit leads us, we’ll move from doing things of temporary significance to being apart of something eternally significance. Jesus himself said He only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19), and this meant He was willing to change the plan (Matt 20:29-34).
2. Ask “how?” instead of “why?”
Lately I’ve found myself asking a lot of why questions, especially on the hard days. “Why am I in this season right now?” “Why don’t I have time for myself?” “Why do I feel disconnected from those I love?” I can tell you that these kinds of questions are getting me no where. This year let’s ask “how” instead of “why”. “How can I make the most of the season I’m in right now?” “How can I make more time for myself?”
How can I connect more?” Suddenly instead of feeling stuck, we are empowered to come up with creative solutions and move forward. So much of how Jesus solved problems and communicated was by asking the right questions.
3. If it’s not driven by love, don’t do it.
Our number one goal should always be intimacy with God – period. Jesus himself says the greatest commandment is to love God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength. How often do we make goals and plans to further our own success, and forget all about seeking the heart of God, and loving a world in need? I’m only saying it because I struggle with this. Jesus wasn’t about gaining power or popularity, status or success. He was about laying down His life, humbling himself, and looking out for the weak. Maybe we need to take some time to look over our goals and ask if they are driven by love.
4. Know that you are ALREADY loved, valued and accepted.
If you accomplish absolutely nothing measurable this year, God will still love you just as much. You are His son, his daughter no matter what you do or don’t do. You are so valuable to Him that He gave EVERYTHING for you – not because He knew you would return the favor, simply because He didn’t want to lose you. Let’s not spend a year striving for something we already have. Bask in His love and out of the overflow, freely live and give.
5. Make people the priority.
How many of our goals are about us, and how many are about helping others? If Jesus were to have a list of resolutions I don’t think too many of them would have been about self-improvement. I do think they would’ve included rest, and staying connected to the Father, but other than that I imagine most of them would be about seeing and loving the people He crossed paths with each day. This doesn’t mean I won’t work on getting healthy, or learn a new skill, but rather, as I do those things I’ll try to be aware of the people I’m interacting with, even in those settings.
Friends, I don’t have it all together and my prayer is that this list won’t make you feel condemned, but empowered! You are so loved and more than anything else, God is after your heart. He wanted your heart on the last day of 2013 and He’ll want it just as much on the last day of 2014. Jesus is excited to have us partner with Him to accomplish the goals God set before the foundations of the earth were laid. Let’s not forget HIS goals and the incredible invitation we’ve been given to co-labor with Him this year.
What is one way you hope to grow this year?