A lot of us — myself included — will make New Year’s Resolutions about money or family or career, maybe even about learning a new skill. (I keep saying I’m going to learn to play guitar.) But does the Bible have anything to say about this kind of thing? Is this a secular pursuit?
Getting Ready for the New Year.
Dear Getting Ready,
Welcome to the New Year, and thanks for your question. Making plans and setting goals is something that we all do throughout the year, so beginning 2016 with a list can be a great way to make sure that you’re moving in a direction that can change your life and the lives around you for the better. But in scripture, the question isn’t really whether we should set goals (we should) but about what we should do next.
First: God’s word strongly recommends that we plan carefully and commit to completing what we choose to do, so that it will be a job well done.
In Luke 14: 28-31, Jesus says: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand.?”
You can see in this passage, that Jesus urges us not only to plan but also to plan for a total commitment to a good outcome.
Second: The Bible advocates getting some good advice so that your plans can succeed.
Proverbs 16:20 notes, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” Or consider Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
More than 40 years ago, Larry Burkett founded Crown Financial Ministries because he recognized that people needed the practical principles and counsel from God’s word, to meet their goals whether you’re building a business, trying to get out of debt or re-thinking your career.
Third: With a plan in place, ask God what He thinks and whether our plans are in line with his.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” A few verses later, in 9, we read, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” This should be our greatest prayer, that we are following His lead, not our own.
Fourth: Don’t be so afraid to fail that you won’t try to do something great in the New Year.
Even hard times have a purpose. Sometimes our greatest life-changing events begin in tremendous difficulty. I’ve had good years and bad, but collectively, those experiences drew me closer to God and taught me some valuable lessons.
In Ecclesiastes 7:14, King Solomon notes, “In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider — God has made the one as well as the other.”
In James 1:2-4, we read: “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”
It’s possible that as you work toward a goal, the struggle itself is teaching you lessons God wants you to learn.
So please do make some New Year’s resolutions, without fear of failure, but for the hope of seeing God do great things in and through your life and the lives around you.