It’s the New Year and that means it’s time for resolutions. Of course, resolutions can be bad if you make vows you don’t keep or set standards for yourself without relying on the gospel to change you and forgive you. But if done in the right way I find resolutions a helpful way to clarify priorities and goals.
Several years ago, in our pastors group, we decided to be more precise in how we want to be held accountable. So we each set off to write a series of questions. My ten questions are below. Though they are six years old by now, I try to come back to them at the start of each year. No doubt, the questions reflect my own weaknesses, temptations, and priorities. There may be better questions for you and your friends. But perhaps these ten questions will be a good place to start.
After each question, I’ve added a sentence or two of self-evaluation (i.e., how have I been doing with these goals over the past several years).
1. Am I spending time slowly reading God’s word and memorizing Scripture? Lately I’ve enjoyed tracking with the daily lectionary readings (something I’ve not done before). This has been a helpful break from the usual read through the Bible (more or less) straight through. Scripture memorization comes and goes in spurts. I’d like work on Philippians in 2016.
2. Am I having consistent, focused, extended times of prayer, including interceding for others? Yes and no. I pray for others, but getting “consistent, focused, and extended” is more difficult. I’m impressed by people who keep up to date prayer cards or a prayer list. I want to improve in this area. I wish I were more of a prayer warrior.
3. Am I disciplined in my use of technology, in particular not getting distracted by emails and blogging in the evening and on my day off? Better than I used to be, but always a challenge.
4. Am I going to bed on time? I wish it were 30 minutes earlier. But normally I get upwards of seven hours of sleep.
5. Am I eating too much? This has improved a lot (see #6).
6. Have I exercised in the last week? It was encouraging to see that I was asking myself this question several years ago, because there has been a new found discipline in this area in the last 18 months. Now I exercise almost every day. Trust me, it’s worth the time. I’m sure I get more done in less time by making exercise a priority.
7. Am I patient with my kids or am I angry with them when they disobey or behave in childish ways? You’d have to ask my kids. There are good days and bad days. I find things are harder in the winter when it’s almost always dark and the kids can’t get outside as much.
8. When at home, am I “fully present” for my wife and family or are my mind and energy elsewhere? I think my wife would say I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be. She’d probably also say I’m not doing as well as I could be.
9. Am I making sermon preparation a priority in my week or am I doing other less important things first? Not where I’d like to be. I’d like to get in some solid preparation on Tuesday/Wednesday and not leave everything for end of the week.
10. Have I done anything out of the ordinary to cherish and help my wife? Well, I have a date night planned next week for our anniversary, but there’s always room for more in this category.
I praise God that we don’t have to pass a checklist to be righteous in Christ. I also praise God that in Christ he gives us strength to pursue growth and godliness and (slowly) make progress.