New Year’s resolutions aren’t really my thing– every January 1st morning, I give up sugar, and by every January 1st evening, I am trying to hide the chocolate on my face from the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups I found in my stocking. However, all joking aside, there is certainly great value in taking inventory of the year behind you and looking forward to the year ahead of you. As the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and dreamers, let’s start this year by reevaluating our commitment to some of the most basic, yet fundamental responsibilities of a believer.
In essence, let’s hit the refresh button and prepare ourselves to think, dream, and lead for Jesus in 2017. Are you with me?
1. Read the Bible: “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
Of course this sounds obvious, but in an age of Netflix, iPhones, Facebook, and Instagram, the simple act of reading now requires serious self-control. Put aside the phone, open the Bible, and make time for a status update really worth following. Spending time in the Word of God and being obedient to what He says is essential to living a life full of purpose. To challenge yourself this year, consider reading through a One-Year Bible or using a Study/Reference Bible as you read. Call me old school, but there is just something about scribbling notes in the margins of your Bible!
2. Memorize Scripture: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
To speak Scripture over all circumstances is powerful. We are all bound to face a variety of situations and emotions in the year ahead and I pray that in these moments we will recall Scripture and speak truth. In the good, let’s shout, “Lord, you are abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15)” and in the bad, let’s take comfort knowing this is still “the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).” Isn’t that the truth? Be diligent to memorize Scripture so you may know God and feel His presence.
3. Find a mentor and be a mentor: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
It is helpful to tackle the year alongside someone who has already walked the road you’re walking. Seek out a good mentor who will provide seasoned insights, honest guidance, constructive criticism, and challenge you to grow personally, professionally, and most importantly, spiritually. Also, keep in mind that you’re always older than somebody, so vice versa, always be on the lookout for opportunities to inspire and invest in others.
4. Serve others: “...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, so find a need in the world and fill it. Maybe you’re passionate about veterans, refugees, the poor, the disabled, the lonely, the hurting, or the persecuted– whoever it may be, serve them and serve them well. Take some time to consider what you can give this year: time, money, or assistance? Remember, we have been given a great gift that is Jesus Christ and through Him we have the privilege of giving back and making a difference in Jesus’ Name.
5. Love others: “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
You know what blows me away? That Jesus meets us right where we are and offers His indescribable love, no matter who we are or what we’ve done. He doesn’t see the color of our skin or the contents of our résumé. He just sees His creation in need of salvation. In the same way, we are called to love others. You may not have the same politics, the same background, the same language, or the same hobbies, and that’s ok. Love others, build genuine relationships, and be ready to start conversations about the greatest love of all.
6. Be a soul winner: “Go and make disciples of all nations...” Matthew 28:19
Don’t ever pass up an opportunity to share with others about salvation through Jesus Christ. I can’t imagine doing anything else more imperative or meaningful this year than evangelizing. There is nothing more important than being an influencer for the Kingdom. There is no greater joy in life than ushering people to Jesus and into the fullness of His love.
Alright, refresh button hit. Now, who’s ready to think, dream, and lead into the new year?
I have every confidence that God has something beautiful in store for you moving forward. My prayer is that you will embrace those many unexpected possibilities and moments that will come your way and will be willing to step out in faith in answer to His calling, wherever that may lead you.
2017, here we come!