I doubt any of us could have foreseen the events of 2020. In the same way, we have no idea what the next year will bring, but we can rest fully assured in the sovereign One who orchestrates and ushers in each new day of 2021.
Even as we live under God’s wise plans, we can seek to grow in our relationship with Him and with one another through practical ways. I’d like to share five ways I hope to mature in the coming year, and I hope you might find some of these helpful to your own growth as well.
It can be helpful to set measurable goals in specific realms of our lives, such as spiritual, physical, financial. Setting achievable short-term goals all along the way will help us meet seemingly impossible long-term goals. Perhaps you want to see yourself read through the Bible for the first time this coming year? Try setting monthly goals, or weekly goals, and persevere day by day. Or, maybe you want to eat more healthy foods, or begin exercising. Maybe it’s time to challenge yourself by memorizing a chapter of Scripture?
Write down those big goals and divide them up into smaller chunks–rewarding yourself all along the way for motivation. Asking a friend for accountability, or to join you in your goals, is even better!
Know God more and more.
At the end of each year I like to evaluate how I’ve seen God work in me. How have I grown to trust Him more? How do I understand who He is better? How is the fruit of the Holy Spirit more and more evident in me? Evaluating where we are spiritually, and seeking to grow through the power of the Holy Spirit, is important to our vitality as followers of Jesus Christ.
This coming year I am planning to focus on one attribute or a name of God daily. I will find Scripture speaking of this attribute or name, then meditate throughout the days on these truths about God. I will also pray that God will show me how to apply this knowledge of Him to my daily life. In the past I’ve seen God show Himself more vividly to me as I’ve meditated on Him as my Sustainer, as my Defender, as the One-who-sees, as good, and near to the broken-hearted. Would you like to join me in focusing on God like this daily?
Invest in friends.
Growing in our relationship with God will provide a solid foundation for growing in our relationship with others. Sometimes it can be easy to take close friends or family for granted, but be diligent in the coming year to make regular time for one another. Set up dates with your husband, with your children; make a regular “appointment” with a friend. In addition to time with one another, remember to pray for one another, or with one another. How might you “water and grow” a friendship in 2021?
Make a book plan.
Smart phones have caused me to read books less and less. How about you? As I’ve become accustomed to reading short news articles or social media posts, I have less of an appetite for longer reads. However, I don’t want to lose this skill, and it is going to take some effort to regain it (and to fight against the ease of short online stories). So, I’m going back to a previous habit of mine, and that is to list specific books I want to read each month of the coming year. In January of 2021, the Unshaken Podcast will be featuring more about reading good books and making this a priority. I highly recommend taking a listen!
Of course, reading the Bible systematically each year is a must as it establishes a firm foundation that we build our lives upon. So, let’s be purposeful to make God’s word the primary read of our days.
Less ____________ More _______________
This final way I want to encourage growth in myself by the end of 2021 is sort of like “Plan Your Own Adventure”. What do you need less of in your life? And, in turn, what do you need more of? I’ll share some of my specifics:
- Less phone, More books
- Less complaining, More gratitude
- Less sitting, More exercise
- Less live-stream/zoom, More real life
- Less me, More Jesus
I love the end of a year because I love reflecting and making new plans. For those who follow Jesus, we must be purposeful to grow and ask God to reveal our hearts to see what might be keeping us from growing.
In 2021 may we stand fast upon the truth of God’s word, be awake and sober-minded, and deny ourselves. In this I pray God is glorified greatly!