My advice is to get rid of the resolutions for the New Year. Resolutions are often nothing more than wishful thinking. They are lofty dreams and empty hopes.
Then replace the resolutions with a growth plan. A growth plan is a well thought out course of action. It is a determination of what is most needed in your life to get you from point A to point B and the steps necessary to get you there. A plan is a set of goals with a strategy for completing them.
But, let’s be honest, we procrastinate big time when it comes to setting them. Less than five percent of Americans have written down goals for their lives. Surveys also show that the five percent that do are the top five percent wage earners in our culture. Those who set written goals have greater income. It’s a correlation. They know what they want in life and they go for it. .
We have exited the old year and entered the new. Here’s the question, “How will 2010 be better than 2011? The key is this; you’ve got to have a plan. You don’t just enter 2011 and say, “I hope it’s going to be better.” You’ve got to have a plan to make it better.
Proverbs 17:24 says, “An intelligent person aims at wise actions, but a fool starts off in many directions.” That means they have a goal, an objective, an aim, a target. Have you set any targets for 2011? Or are you just going to walk into this year and hope it’s better? You’ve got to have a plan. Growth does not happen by chance.
Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Alan Lakein echoed a similar thought, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”
How about a growth plan that follows the model of Jesus? If you are a Christ follower then your greatest desire in life is to be like Jesus. This is what the Bible says about Jesus and I believe that in these words is found the most balanced growth plan a follower of Jesus can pursue.
How did Jesus develop? Luke 2:52 tells us four ways “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and favor with man.” If I want to become like Christ, I need to develop in the four areas Jesus developed in.
- He developed in wisdom – that’s intellectual development or knowledge plus application.
- He developed in stature – that’s physical development.
- He developed in favor with God – that’s spiritual development.
- He developed in favor with man – that’s social development.
1. Set a wisdom target. Wisdom is knowledge plus application.
It is extremely difficult in our culture to grow in wisdom without reading. You can develop wisdom by attending every seminar you can find, but who has the time and money? Reading is key. It is depositing knowledge into the brain. Application must follow but without the knowledge there is nothing to apply. What is your plan to grow your brain power?
2. Jesus’ model also says, set a stature-physical development goal.
I just turned sixty a couple weeks ago and I have never felt better, physically, in my life. It is not by accident, only by plan and design. This morning I ran five miles in less than an hour. Not only am I sixty, I have had surgery on both knees and have a pacemaker. What is your excuse?
There are two reasons why I am so determined to keep myself in good physical shape.
- I want to enjoy my years, especially the latter years instead of just endure them.
- My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I want to take good care of God’s dwelling place. 1 Cor 3:16-17 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. What is your physical development target?
3. Jesus also grew in favor with God, in His relationship with the Father. So that means we need a spiritual development target that causes us to love and obey God more.
Here are three element of a healthy spiritual development plan.
- Weekly worship; make it a non-negotiable part of your week.
- Daily time with God; without exception my daily time with God is the most important key to my consistency and spiritual growth throughout the years.
- Serving God in a consistent and committed way. One of the most important lessons I have learned in life is this, “Impression without expression leads to depression.” Impression—knowing what God wants us to do, without expression, doing it—serving God and others, leads to depression—spiritual depression. I would add, and eventually falling away from God. People who sit and soak without serving will eventually bail out on God all together.
What’s your spiritual growth target?
4. And fourthly Jesus grew in favor with Man; Jesus developed socially. He was connected with others on a regular basis. Even though he took himself away from the crowd to be alone with God he reconnected with people and was socially connected. In fact he devoted three solid years to the development of twelve guys. And much of that time devoted to the deeper development of just three of those men, Peter, James and John.
Jesus’ example indicates that healthy social development involves two key components.
- Interaction and involvement with a small group of people; a group around the size of Jesus’ group, 12-15.
- Connection with an even smaller group of two to four people where more accountability can take place.
So, what will it take for you to sit down this week and write out a growth plan or set some targets in these four areas of your life? If you do, you will find yourself in the five percent category. Doesn’t that make you feel special? So get on with it.