Happy New Year!

Today I’m sharing a devotional I wrote a few years ago about setting goals instead of making resolutions. Hopefully it will give you some inspiration as you face a New Year.

I pray you and your family have a safe holiday and a blessed and prosperous 2015.

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Clean Dishes

Several years back, I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions. Instead of making resolutions, I started writing out goals.

I have found that if I write down my goals, I have a much better chance of meeting them. I learned this quite by accident.

Several years back I was going through a tough time in my life and didn’t like who I was or how my life was unfolding. So I took some time and wrote down some changes I wanted to see in my life. Some of the changes were financial, some relational, some had to do with my career, some had to do with emotional healing. There were several items on the list.

For the first few weeks, I would go back and read over the list every day. Then it became more sporadic. Eventually I forgot all about the list.

A few years later while packing for a move, I was cleaning out a desk drawer and ran across a notebook. As I was glancing through it, I saw the list.

As I read through it, I was amazed. I had accomplished everything on the list! I had totally forgotten about the list. I had not thought about some of the items on the list since I last looked at it.

But somehow everything on the list had been accomplished.

Since then I have created a list of goals for each New Year. And though I haven’t always completed all of them, my track record is much better than it used to be when I made resolutions on New Year’s Eve that were forgotten by end of January.

But this year I may do something different.

I just read a blog that I follow regularly and it’s making me think.

The blog talked about NOT setting specific goals but instead making it your goal to be the best version of you in the coming year. To be the person you want to be—in every situation you find yourself next year.

Instead of setting goals and focusing on attaining them, your one goal is just to be—to be the best YOU you can be.

Not a bad idea.

SMART goals are the kind of goals we have to set in the workplace. Our goals have to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. S.M.A.R.T.

However, if all I did on my job was what it took to meet my SMART goals, I wouldn’t be a very good employee. There’s a lot more to doing a good job than just achieving a list of goals.

I think that’s what the blog I read was talking about.

We can set goals and focus so intently on meeting those goals that we miss out on living life well.

We can become so focused on external measurements of who we are and what we do that we start believing what we’re measuring.

We either start believing we don’t measure up because we’re not meeting all our goals. Or we start believing we’ve reached the summit. Either place is dangerous because we’re determining our value based on what we do, not who we are. We’re focused on doing instead of being.

This problem hasn’t been created by our fast-paced, media-driven, technology-crazed 21st century society. It’s been around a long time.

In fact, Jesus addressed it on multiple occasions. One example is in Matthew 23.

Jesus is talking to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. These were the Jewish religious leaders of the day. And according to Jesus, they were only concerned with their appearance. They cared about how ‘good’ they looked. They did deeds that made them appear to be righteous in the people’s eyes.

But Jesus knew what they were really like. And He called them out on it.

In verse 25 He says, “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” In other words, you do whatever makes you look good on the outside.

These leaders were very focused on keeping the law. They followed the rules. They met their S.M.A.R.T. goals.

They were focused on external measurements and they believed what they measured.

But Jesus called them hypocrites, blind guides, snakes, a brood of vipers! In verse 23 he talks about how they fulfilled even the tiniest detail of the law but ignored more important matters like justice and mercy and faithfulness.

I think it’s very possible for me to do that.

In fact, I think I have done that. Maybe even this past year.

As I look over my list of goals for this past year, I am again blown away by how many I have accomplished. And none of them were evil goals. They were good goals. Things I’m proud to have done.

But that doesn’t mean I was the best me I could be. In fact, I think I may have been more focused on the externals than the internals.

And that’s NOT the goal I want to accomplish in the New Year.

Jesus has a remedy that He shared with those religious leaders in verse 26. He said, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Good advice. I think I’ll take it.

So for the next year, I’m going to focus on the internals. On becoming the best version of me.

I’m also going to set some goals. And I will write them down.

But my main goal is allowing Jesus to change me from the inside out, becoming the best version of ME, focusing on the internals and letting that spill over into the externals.

Like the cup and dish Jesus talked about.

Got any dishes you need to clean in the New Year?

© Rhonda Fleming, 2012

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