Encouragement for Today - Jan. 5, 2011
Keeping My New Year's Resolutions to Myself
by Glynnis Whitwer
"The king of Israel answered, ‘Tell him: "One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off."'" - 1 Kings 20:11 (NIV)
I'm done with announcing my New Year's Resolutions. I know some people thrive on accountability from announcing goals. I'm not one of them. Once, I announced on my blog I was losing weight, and I gained five pounds. There was something seriously wrong with that situation.
Recently, I heard successful entrepreneur Derek Sivers explain why some people shouldn't announce their goals. According to several scientific studies, it seems some of us get mental gratification just by talking about our goals without actually doing the work. While this opposes common understanding of accountability, I can see the truth in it.
There have been times when I've taken pride in myself for identifying a worthwhile goal. It's like there's this striving little part of me that puffs up ever so slightly when declaring what I'm going to accomplish. It's definitely a cousin of boasting, only so much more refined. Do I imagine your admiration just in the speaking of my goals? Does it make me seem smarter or bolder than I am?
You'd never know from the surface these thoughts dance around my subconscious. It doesn't even happen to me all the time. But for some reason, New Year's Resolutions are the worst. It's so much easier to declare a grand resolution than do the steadfast daily marching needed to cross the finish line.
Whether it's neglected resolutions, sales pitches that don't pan out, or political promises, we live in a society of sometimes lofty declarations. Yet I've learned the hard way that words are empty without the steadfast commitment to live them out. Time and truth go hand-in-hand.
The Bible is quite clear that actions speak louder than words. There's an interesting statement made in 1 Kings 20:11 that rings true. It's spoken by Ahab, king of Israel, when he faced attack by Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. Ben-Hadad sent threatening messages, trying to intimidate Ahab. Kind of like an athlete boasting assuredly that he will win tonight's game.
In the face of the final threat, Ahab said to Beh-Hadad's messenger, "Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.'" In other words, save the talking for after you've accomplished the goal.
Now those are words worth memorizing. And they speak vividly to me today in the face of yet another year of potential and promise. The biblical principal behind them is: Do not boast - and if you boast, boast in Christ. In our age of status updates and tweets, it can be tempting to make ourselves seem more interesting, important, ambitious or productive than we really are, yet.
I'm not saying it's wrong. It's just not right for me. So instead of making a public declaration of any New Year's Resolutions, I'm choosing to invest in my standing orders from God, while listening for His future assignments.
And I'm not telling anyone about it. Except you.
Dear Lord, thank You for the truth found throughout Your Word. Help me to grasp hold of this truth and apply it to my life. I long to be a faithful, diligent servant - one You can trust to do what she's asked. Help me be that woman. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Resolutions aren't bad, but the idea is to back them up with diligent work. Identify one goal you have and the next practical step you can take toward completion....
What are your thoughts about announcing goals? Have you ever announced something, only to quit before completion?
Should a Christian have a different approach to setting New Year's Resolutions? If so, how should we be different?
1 Peter 5:10, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (NIV)
Proverbs 16:2-3, "All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." (NIV)
© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.