Will you ask God what to do for your New Year’s resolutions?
The New Year, 2022, is upon us.
2021 was full of ups and downs, challenges and victories. And it’s time to say goodbye.
At this time of year, a lot of folks like to, or think they should, make New Year’s resolutions. For some people, this is a very helpful exercise to get them focused on what they need to do in the New Year to improve themselves, to make changes in their lives and behavior, and to progress as a person.
However, all too often, we tend to make resolutions which are unreasonable, either because of how much change or what kind of change we think we’ll bring about because sometimes, we just make unrealistic goals for ourselves, then quit trying when we don’t achieve these goals.
I have certainly done that.
Choose a quality
More recently, a lot of my friends are choosing a quality or attitude to focus on for the whole year and bring it to bear on all they do. It’s more of a resolution on how to think than a resolution for specific behaviors.
I love this idea because it’s about the way we think; it’s about our mindset.
To get at the heart of what causes us to act the way we do, we need to examine our thinking. To bring real and permanent change to our behaviors, we need to change our mindset.
The book of Proverbs points this out, referring to how our thoughts influence not just our behavior, but who we become:
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
How do you see yourself?
The way you see yourself, the way you identify yourself, or as the proverb says, how you think in your heart about yourself, what you accept as true about yourself, is how you end up acting and who you become.
Think of some of the people you know. How do they identify themselves?
I had a friend years ago who always told everyone how clumsy he was. He really saw himself as clumsy and it was kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. He often did some pretty clumsy, awkward things.
I’ve had other friends with a variety of attitudes about themselves, ranging from being self-confident, always able to find a solution, to thinking they were incompetent at almost everything.
How do you see yourself? How do you identify yourself?
And, when you take an honest look at yourself, is there something you’d like to improve on during the New Year?
Is there a quality you’d like to focus on, like humility or equanimity, gentleness or mindfulness? There are certainly lots of possibilities here.
What to do in 2022
As you’re thinking and praying about how you want to approach 2022, I want to encourage you to go beyond just looking at your life and you deciding what you need to work on or improve.
You may come up with some great ideas for New Year’s resolutions or qualities to immolate in this process, but there’s another approach that will be more effective and bring much bigger blessings.
If you’ve been listening to The Bible Speaks to You Podcast for a while, you’ve probably noticed my focus on living with the mindset of Jesus in daily life.
So I’ve been thinking about what kind of New Year’s resolutions I could and would make if I were fully imbibing the mindset of Jesus.
Follow Jesus’s example
Well, not that I know of. He always did the right thing. He did what the Father told him to.
Jesus didn’t have his own personal agenda of what to accomplish while he was here on earth. He did have a master plan of what he would do, but everything on that plan was dictated and orchestrated by God. Jesus just did and said whatever God told him to.
If we are striving to follow Jesus, maybe we should try to follow this approach in our own lives.
I know, that’s a pretty big high bar to reach for, but if we’re going to follow Jesus, we have to start somewhere.
There are a couple of place where Jesus explains to his followers that he came to do what God wanted him to:
So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. John 5:19 NLT
I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.
And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” John 12:49, 50 NLT
These two passages in John give us some really deep insight into the mindset of Jesus. He only did what he saw the Father doing.
That means everything he did, he must have seen God doing.
He only said what God told him to say.
That means when he looked out on the crowds and had compassion on the people, he must have seen God loving these folks. When he healed Bartimaeus of blindness or Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, he must have seen God healing and restoring them first, or he wouldn’t have been able to do it.
When he spoke with compassion and mercy to people whom the Pharisees considered common or miserable sinners, it was because God told him exactly what to say and how to say it. He saw God loving them, so he loved them as well.
And it must also be true that when he rebuked the Pharisees, it was because he heard his heavenly Father’s command to rebuke their self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and pride.
Jesus never spoke unless God put the words in his mouth. Jesus never acted unless he saw God act first. What if we would do that just 5% of the time?
Ask God what to do with your New Year’s resolutions
So what does all this have to do with New Year’s resolutions?
Instead of trying to figure out how to change or what to focus on in the New Year based on your own or others’ opinions and recommendations, what if your resolution was simply to ask God what to do and say all year long?
What if your prayer was to see what God is doing in every circumstance, instead of trying to figure out what you want to do?
What if your New Year’s resolution was to ask God what to say in every situation, even right in the middle of a conversation, hear what God is telling you, and then say nothing else?
How do you think this would affect your life?
Samuel heard God’s voice
There are some great examples in the Bible of people listening to God and doing what he told them, sometimes even when they thought something else was right.
When King Saul had not been faithful, God told the prophet Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the new king of Israel. (See 1 Samuel 16:1)
When Samuel got to Jesse’s house, he saw the oldest son Eliab, and thought he must be the new king. Eliab looked the part. Samuel was impressed with his physical appearance.
But God told Samuel this was not the right one to be king. Samuel looked at seven of Jesse’s sons and God said no to everyone until God told Samuel that David was to be king.
The point here is Samuel heard God’s voice. He was able to hear God’s voice because he had the kind of relationship with God that he heard God’s voice. And he obeyed it, even when it went against his own preconceptions.
David heard God’s voice
Later when Saul was searching for David to destroy him, David asked God specifically whether Saul would look for him in the village of Keilah and if the townspeople would deliver him to King Saul. God told him Saul would come to the town and the people would deliver David and his men to Saul, if David came to that town.
David asked God what to do. He heard God’s voice and didn’t go to the town of Keilah. (See 1 Samuel 23:10-14)
Another time David asked God what to do in a specific situation. He heard God’s voice and was obedient.
It happened after this that David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.” 2 Samuel 2:1 NKJV
As it turns out, while David was in Hebron, the people anointed him as king over Judah. This was a pivotal moment for David as he united the kingdom.
In these two situations, there was no way for David to know what to do. He asked God and did what God told him.
Will you ask God what to do in the New Year?
Now I realize these aren’t exactly examples of New Year’s resolutions, it was just the way Samuel and David lived their lives on a daily basis.
Well, most of the time. There were times when David did things God told him not to, but most of the time he asked for God’s guidance and was obedient.
It’s the spirit of how Samuel and David asked God what to do and then obeyed God’s voice, that I’m talking about as a guide for how you and I can make resolutions for the New Year, as well as how to live our lives on a daily basis.
I’ve already mentioned how Jesus was the supreme example of this. He did not come with his own agenda or opinions of what to do or how to do it. He listened to God. He obeyed God. He did what God told him to.
He often pointed out to his followers that he did not come to do what he wanted but what God wanted.
I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. John 5:30 NLT
For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. John 6:38 NLT
Are you willing to follow Jesus example?
To what degree are you and I willing to adopt Jesus’s mindset as to how we live our lives?
Are we willing to set aside our own will, our own agenda, our own hopes and dreams, our own desires, our own actions, and our own assessment of a situation or person – are we willing to set all these aside for God’s will for us and for what God sees and does?
As you think about your plans for 2022, please consider setting those plans to the side long enough to ask God what His plans for you are. What is God’s will for you in the New Year?
What will God be doing in 2022?
Will you see what God does this coming year and do likewise?
What will God say to you throughout 2022? There’s no way to know right now.
Will you listen all year long for His guidance? Will you only say what he tells you to?
I know, this is a very high standard to reach for. There will be times when we fall short. Don’t be hard on yourself if you mess up a little or a lot. Focus on the times you do listen for God’s voice and obey it. Be grateful every time you see God at work and you act accordingly. Rejoice over the times you only say the words God puts in your mouth.
The more you practice this mindset of Jesus, the better you’ll get at it.
And as we do this, 2022 will become the Year of the Lord for us.
My goal for 2022 is to give this whole year to God, let God set the agenda, let God decide what I need to do and when to do it, where I need to be, who I need to talk to, and what to say.
I invite you to join me in this grand adventure.
What will God tell you to do in 2022?
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
John 5:19 NLT
19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.
John 12:49, 50 NLT
49 I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.
50 And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
1 Samuel 16:1 NKJV
1 Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”
1 Samuel 23:10-14 NLT
10 Then David prayed, “O LORD, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here.
11 Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him?[fn] And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O LORD, God of Israel, please tell me.” And the LORD said, “He will come.”
12 Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?”And the LORD replied, “Yes, they will betray you.”
13 So David and his men—about 600 of them now—left Keilah and began roaming the countryside. Word soon reached Saul that David had escaped, so he didn’t go to Keilah after all.
14 David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.
2 Samuel 2:1 NKJV
1 It happened after this that David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.”
John 5:30 NLT
30 I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.
John 6:38 NLT
38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.