Yesterday I posted a few suggestions that I hoped would be helpful in keeping new resolutions. Upon further reflection, I think there are three more that I’d like to add. If you’ve made some resolutions, or just want to change something in your life, try these additional things, too.
Generalized resolutions are less likely to be executed than specific ones. “I want to be more efficient,” is less specific than, “I will be on time for all my appointments”. “I want to lose some weight,” is less specific than, “I will lose 15 pounds by April.” The more specific you are, the more likely you are to accomplish the goal. Rather than merely promise to be kinder, perhaps you could resolve to work on how you’ll be kinder. Rather than promise to come to church more often, resolve to come to every Sunday morning worship, every Sunday evening assembly, and every midweek Bible study. Instead of just saying that you’ll read the Bible everyday, get a schedule (there plenty of them out there) and resolve to find a specific time to do the reading every day. Instead of saying “I’ll learn more about the Bible this year,” sign up to get the Bible 101 email twice a week (top of the left hand column). Get specific.
Look for a root
Sometimes new Christians come in near despair over the many things that they have to change in their lives. My counsel to them is often to ask them to look for the roots of their sins or problems. Often they discover that many of the sins or problems that they have are rooted in common heart or thinking problems. This is why Jesus told us to keep watch on our hearts, because they are the roots of so many problems. Anger, for example, can manifest itself in many, many ways. Pride, grudges, fear, and lack of self-control are also the roots of a number of sins and bad behavior. Some things that hold us back from doing good things, having good relationships, etc. are often rooted in common issues like irresponsibility, self-centeredness, poor self-image, or other issues. And like any weekend gardner would know, when you want to get rid of a weed, you don’t just pluck off the leaves, you pull up the root. When the root is gone, a number of other things get solved all at once. Look for the root.
Give yourself a reminder
One last thing, provide yourself with a reminder of the promise that you’ve made. We often quite conveniently forget about our new resolutions, and when we remember then again, several days have passed and we’re prone to just give it up. Here’s a little trick that a preacher friend gave me years ago: Write the promise/resolution down on a scrap of paper, wad it into a small ball, and put it in your change pocket or change purse (somewhere you’ll put your hands or go through a lot). Every time you put your hand in your pocket, you’ll feel the wad of paper; at first, you’ll wonder what it is. You’ll take it out and read it again. After a while, you’ll simply know what is on the paper and be reminded of your promise. In time, a new habit will be formed and you won’t need the wad of paper. Give yourself a reminder.
Positive, spiritually upward, biblical change is the essence of Christianity. Do your best to keep your new resolution.