January 17, 2017
In the ‘New Year’, there is an incredible amount of discussion with others and internal dialogue that we engage in regarding what we are going to do new, different, or change in the next 365 days. Some of us come up with an exhaustive list of all of the ideas we want to implement, changes we want to make, and habits we want to form. What we do not do, however, is think about and discuss these goals, or resolutions, in a realistic way. We say phrases such as “I am going to lose 50 pounds this year” and “I am going to read a chapter of the Bible every day, or every week” or “I am not going to do such-and-such ever again.” What we do not realize is that we are setting ourselves up for failure – grand failure. We are either setting unrealistic goals for ourselves, or we are failing to plan out how exactly we are going to achieve these goals.
If we do indeed fail at achieving our goals initially or by a set period of time, many will simply drop the goal entirely for the entire year until the ‘new year’ comes around again. Thus, because we have failed to achieve our goal, we choose to ignore whatever it is we wanted to change for almost an entire year. We are quite literally choosing to make zero progress, to move forward no further, to sit idly by, and wait for nothing, essentially.
The Bible has a few things to say about setting goals, so, stop and take a moment to read these passages in the Word of God and consider their meaning:
Luke 14:28-31 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him?”
Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.“
Proverbs 21:5 (NIV) “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.“
While it is sometimes difficult and painful for our pride to examine ourselves and judge ourselves as the Bible says, it will help each of us to align ourselves with the Word of God and achieve our goals. The two main takeaways from these scriptures are: first, to actually go about setting proper goals without taking any shortcuts or making excuses (Proverbs 21); and second, to consider how you are exactly going to accomplish your set goals with the given time and resources (Luke 14).
Let us take the goal of reading a chapter of the bible every day, or even every week, and apply these scriptural requirements to our goal and consider these questions. Do you have the time to read one chapter every day? Do you have the discipline to read one chapter every day? Will you read to understand the word and meditate (to think on and apply to your life) on it, or read simply to say that you have read? Have you considered what happens if you miss a day, or a week of reading: will you choose to stop reading entirely or simply pick back up where you left off? What happens if someone opposes your goal or criticizes you?
When you consider these questions, one may very easily become overwhelmed with the acknowledgment of the possibility that you may not be able to achieve these goals, and worse that you might fail once you have begun. How then, can we be diligent, wise, and plan a goal so that we may finish it?
I say – start with one. Only one. Exactly One. No more than One. One. Just, One.
You may acknowledge that you will have a hard time reading one chapter a day, let alone remembering and applying that chapter to your life. But, what happens if you read, examine, and meditate on only one verse a day? One verse – no more and no less. No one, not one person, has an excuse that would actually support the idea that they are unable to read one verse a day. Reading one verse will likely take you less than a minute complete. To then stop and consider that verse for a few minutes after you read it and then at other points throughout your day will add up to maybe 10-30 minutes of combined time depending on the person – all of us have that kind of time.
Following this idea through the end of the year, you will have read over 300 verses (give or take missing a few days). But, you will not only have read those 300 verses, those are 300 verses that you will know, have studied, have applied, and have seen work in your life. I would even argue that many of you will have increased the number of verses you read in a day and even double those verses in a year. How much more would we know about the Word of God, and how much more of a relationship with our heavenly Father would we have if we took this into practice and read one verse a day instead of failing to read and study the Word of God with consistency and, by our inaction, choose to do nothing at all? With the start being the hardest part of starting anything new, I am challenging you to remember what Luke and Proverbs says and make a goal that you can complete.
The best part about the idea of one is that it is by no means a new idea. The benefits of setting micro-goals are well documented, and the idea of one has been written about, discussed, and taught on many times – even at our church. The hard part is actually doing it, and it is almost comical how we (myself included) have such a hard time just starting even a small new action. We can all relate to this idea regardless of if we are in school or any kind of working professional. If we would simply stop for five minutes and write the starting paragraph to a paper or report, begin the draft of a new architectural design, tape the trim on the next wall for paint, or lay that first brick while we have the time, then we will be so much further along at the end simply by starting. So, whatever you are going to do in this new year, start small and ‘do’ one. However, take it one step further and go to the Lord in prayer and ask what is that ‘one thing’ you can do each day or each week. Regardless of what that answer might be, we can all choose to read one more verse, pray for one more minute, or do one more thing.
Find someone to help keep you accountable to this idea of one, and do not quit if you miss one or a few of whatever you are doing.
– A Millennial’s Thoughts