The second habit in Stephen Covey book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is ‘Begin with the end in mind.’ As we are at the start of a new year we naturally tend to take stock of what we’ve accomplished in the past year. We also naturally shift our attention to the new year and hope for better things. No one I have ever met sincerely hopes that next year will be a more difficult year. We don’t naturally hope for worse. We naturally hope for better. So as we look towards a new year, what are your hopes and dreams?
New year’s is a time of resolutions. It is natural for us to look at the things we don’t like about ourselves and to seek to make a change. More people decide to quit smoking at new year’s than any other time of the year. The same goes for the gym. The new year is the time when lots of people determine that they desperately need exercise and get themselves a gym membership. The truly committed keep it up and the rest fall away after 6-8 weeks.
As a Christian, I will suggest that we need to approach the new year differently than non-Christians. Where the non-Christian is convinced that their problem is a lack of will to do or not do a particular habit a Christian should know better. Right behavior is not a matter of willing ourselves to do it. When we try we are doing it in our own strength. Is it any wonder then why we fail time and time again? No, a truly converted Christian will realize that they can do nothing themselves. We will learn the lesson that Jesus taught us when he was on earth.
“So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” – John 5:19.
Jesus was God. He had potential access to his divinity. All knowledge (Omniscience) and all power (Omnipotence) yet he didn’t take advantage of that access. He trusted in his Father by faith for every need and that is exactly what we need as well. Where we may not have the power to quit smoking God has that power. Where we might not be able to free ourselves from our addiction to alcohol God can do it immediately. Where we don’t have the power to stop sinning by disobeying God’s laws, God can live inside of us and give us that power.
“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” – 1 John 3:9
Which brings us back to Steven Covey and Beginning with the End in mind. Think about the major life change you want to accomplish for the new year. This year though, instead of trusting in your own willpower to free you from that bad habit or to get you out of bed in the morning for that trip to the gym, ask God in prayer for the strength. Trust that He will give you the power to do it. Place yourself in his capable hands. You won’t regret it. It may even happen that God will immediately take away all cravings and temptations. Even if He doesn’t though, he will give you the strength to get through it. Not by your power. Not for your glory but for God’s glory.
As you face this next year, spend some time thinking about where you want to be at this time next year. Do you still want to struggle with the same bad habits a year from now? Do you want to live in regret for what could have been? Instead of that, why not spend some time visualizing what God wants from you in the coming year. Then, once it is clear in your mind, start praying to God so that He will make it happen. Through this whole process though, let me caution you. It isn’t about forcing your ideas of what you should do on God. It needs to be about what God wants you to do.
Will you trust Him to do the changing you need done? Will you give Him all of your life? Will you ask Him for what you need and then be willing to wait on Him to deliver it?