I used to avoid making New Year’s goals like the plague. My philosophy has long been that if I set goals for the year, I will likely not be successful in accomplishing them, and then I’ll just feel like a failure. So better not to set them at all, right?
While my logic there may be questionable, I do think January naturally lends itself to evaluation. Even if I can’t get behind official New Year’s goals, self-reflection is always a good thing. It’s important to regularly refocus on big-picture goals, and I find that approach more helpful than smaller yearly goals. I’ve been inspired by some reading recently to evaluate where my focus is, what goals I am working toward in each area of my life—and whether I’m working toward the right things. Specifically, I have been convicted that I don’t always want what I say I want.
I would say that ultimately I want to glorify the Lord and work toward honoring Him with every part of my life—but do I really act like that’s what I want? What would it look like to be pursuing God’s glory and making room for Him in each of the areas below?
We live in a culture that values busyness, the “hustle” so to speak. But what are we hustling for, as Christians? Personally, I’ve realized that when I’m busy, it’s not necessarily with things God has called me to. I have been working on weeding out my schedule to make sure I have the time and energy to serve my family well, spend time in God’s word, and allow Him to lead me into the activities and conversations where He can use me. Once the schedule is simplified, I think it’s also important to evaluate my time. My schedule consists of the things on my calendar, but my time is the nuts and bolts of where my daily minutes go. If I added up all the hours I spend on my phone per day, it would probably be scary.
But aside from wasted time, much of my time during the day is taken up with things that on the surface are good, like taking care of my family. However, if I were to look a little deeper, am I performing my daily tasks in a way that honors the Lord? Do I serve my family with joy, as if I were serving Christ, or do I have a grumbling heart? And is my time in God’s word an important part of my daily routine, or an afterthought? Our habits matter, because our habits eventually turn us into a certain kind of person. I, too, often give myself a pass because this season with young children is busy and hard, but I think perhaps making a habit of spending time with the Lord each day is more important now when it’s hard than ever.
There are two ways I find that my home is often used for my own purposes instead of God’s. First, it is, after all, where all my stuff resides, and if I’m honest the pursuit of things turns my eyes away from Jesus more often than it should. There is nothing wrong with having a nice, comfortable home, but am I content with what I have, or always seeking more? Am I putting my worth in these things or finding my worth and purpose in Christ? The second thing I do too often is to use my home as a shelter from the world when it would be much better used as an opportunity to invite others in. If my home is nice and comfortable, I don’t want it to simply be for my own enjoyment, but in order to provide a welcoming environment to minister to those around me in the name of Jesus. I want to view my home as a tool God has given me to reach others for Him.
This is where I could very possibly step on some toes, but just know I am stepping on my own, too. If someone were to look at my monthly credit card statement, would there be any room for Jesus there? Would they see anything that would make them think that I serve Jesus? What am I worshipping with my pocketbook? I want to cut out lesser things, and make room in my finances for what really matters, which is serving my King and furthering His Kingdom, instead of mine.
This year before setting goals, I want to encourage you to join me in taking a hard look at these areas to see where your priorities are – not just where you think they are, or where you know they should be, but where your actions say they are. What do your time, home, and finances say about your priorities? Where do your actions in these areas point—toward glorifying God or your own vision of flourishing? And if it’s the latter, how do you get oriented back toward what truly matters, what will last? A fun (and pretty) tool for this evaluating is A Simplified Life by Emily Ley. Though most of the book is not focused specifically on spiritual matters, each chapter encourages reflecting on different areas of your life. I am looking forward to working through it myself to see what things I can refocus and simplify. Only you can figure out what needs to happen to fix any areas that are out of whack. But I think the first step is to start thinking about it, and I hope this post encourages you to join me in doing just that.
Despite the title of this post, I don’t want to just eke out some room for Jesus in the New Year. God became a man to save us by dying in our place. For those of us who put our trust in Jesus to save us from our sins, He deserves so much more than some time squeezed in between all our other pursuits. He should be the point of all our other pursuits. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We aren’t to enjoy everything the world has to offer now and then start enjoying and glorifying God when we get to Heaven. The glorifying and enjoying God should start now, in every area of life. He deserves more than just making room in our lives for Him. He deserves our whole lives. That is why we’re here.
How can you make room for Jesus in your life this year?