I have never been particularly fond of New Year's resolutions. I find them to be a rather artificial way of attempting to make improvements in your life. As a Christian, I also find that they don't typically take the gospel and power of Christ into account. The power of the gospel in changing lives really has nothing to do with our resolve (stay tuned for an article that digs more deeply into this topic).
That being said, the gospel does change us, and often in ways that we don't necessarily think of (in our flesh) as “spiritual matters.” God's work in your life can't be bottled up and released when it is convenient for you (another reason I find New Year's resolutions, or any resolution, lacking). God will work in his time.
Despite the distaste for New Year's resolutions, the beginning of a new year does seem an appropriate time to think about progress in my life. The timing of some of these things happen to correspond with this natural time of introspection. Following are a few of the things that have been happening in my life. Some of them don't seem to be “spiritual” on the surface, but God works even through seemingly unimportant things.
Being more involved in the Church. Over the years I haven't been involved in the Church as I know that I should be. At the same time, I didn't want to just do things for show or out of duty. While we sometimes have to do things we have no desire to do, God is glorified when we serve Him because of who He is, not because we feel obligated by pressure from others in the Church. This is probably why most attempts I have made at being involved haven't really taken hold. God has been working so that I am more willing to be involved with the Church on a number of levels. My relationships with other believers have grown quite a bit, both on social and spiritual levels. I've also become involved with the committee that is looking for ways to encourage growth, involvement, and leadership in the men of the church. As part of this, I'm leading the men's Bible study on Wednesday nights for this “semester.” I think my growth in this area is very tightly linked to other underlying areas of growth. I may expound on this more in a future article.
Writing more. I'm not referring here to increasing the number of articles I write, or the length of the articles, although that may happen. What I'm talking about is actually physically putting pen to paper. I'm not really sure why I feel the need to do this, but it seems like an exercise I need to undertake. I'm even attempting to do some of this writing in cursive at this point, although I'm beginning to think that may be an exercise in futility. I've written most of this in cursive up to this point, but I can't seem to get it down very well. I've even acquired some Moleskine journals and a pocket notebook to facilitate this.
Getting things done. I'm not a big fan of books that promise systems that will make your life easier in 4 steps, or 7 steps, or whatever. However, I've read quite a bit about Getting Things Done by David Allen, and decided that I would take the plunge and read the book. I need to better organize the various things I have to do so that I stop just sitting around thinking of all the things I have to do and actually get something done. I've barely started reading this book, but it starts out making it clear that the author is not claiming some magical multi-step process, but giving time-tested ideas that can be adapted as necessary to fit your lifestyle. Most of the things I've read from others are ways to customize the system to fit your needs. I think that this is something I need to tackle both on practical and spiritual levels. I have a tendency toward procrastination, more accurately called laziness. While God is working on me in this area, I have far to go.
Eating and exercise. I don't like exercising much, and it shows. Part of my problem is not just the lack of exercise, but the consumption of too much food (especially in the past). I grew up a glutton. No one really complains about a teenage boy eating lots of food, and to some extent it was necessary. But I was still a glutton—it just didn't show physically because of my high metabolism. It was a spiritual problem that persisted well into my college years. Even now, despite tremendous improvement in that area, I still struggle with gluttony. Often it takes the form of eating when I'm stressed or bored—trusting food instead of God.
In regards to the exercise portion, I think God would have me be a better steward of my body. I haven't been getting any fatter really lately, but need to do more. I tried for a while a few months ago, but hopefully I'll stick with it better this time.