Since childhood, I’ve attempted New Year’s resolutions, not spiritual resolutions but self-improvement promises to myself.
Resolutions are great, but unfortunately, I don’t think my resolutions survive through January.
Some of my New Year’s resolutions include: stop biting my nails, stop chewing gum, don’t hang out with certain people, find good friends, read more, lose weight, exercise, eat less junk food, eat more vegetables and the list goes on.
Do you remember New Year’s resolutions throughout your life? Have some of them stuck?
I hope you had better results than I have.
One year I stopped making resolutions and the exercise faded from my annual to-do list. Until someone would mention their New Year’s resolutions and I would think about it for a minute.
In the last few years, I’ve pivoted my view of New Year’s resolutions and focused on spiritual resolutions by examining my spiritual growth and relationship with Christ. My strategy has been to think of resolutions as more internal.
I don’t discourage New Year’s resolutions because positive goal setting is important, but adding spiritual depth and significance keeps the focus on spiritual resolutions which have an enduring impact on your identity and your connection to Jesus.
“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 AMP
An identity firmly rooted in Christ makes you spiritually healthy, producing ‘fruit of the spirit’ which enables you to embark on a new year or new adventure with courage and confidence.
If you want to deepen your faith and strengthen His presence within you in the coming year these strategies might be worth a try.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT
What is a Resolution?
A resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something. Resolutions require steadfast determination, perseverance, discipline, and desire.
Spiritual resolutions require the same sense of purpose focused on our spiritual life which ultimately affects our whole life.
“Strive to be in the minority of people who keep their New Year’s resolutions. But know even if you don’t keep everyone, the act of making them and striving toward them will have positive effects for you and others.”
Most New Year’s resolutions focus on detrimental activities or behaviors that we want to stop. Resolutions can also focus on positive, beneficial behaviors that we want to start or increase.
My success rate with resolutions was low because they were shallow, spontaneous decisions that lost steam and faded. Resolutions should be rooted in an authentic intentional desire to change and grow.
I didn’t take the time to seriously examine my New Year’s resolutions until I married them with my faith.
Spiritual resolutions are decisions or goals to ignite your spirituality and grow closer to God. If you are feeling spiritually drained, stale, questioning or doubting your faith, confused, or want to grow a deeper faith then read on.
Remember spiritual resolutions are not the secret to a contented authentic life, they are tools. As Rick Warren emphasizes the true secret to change and joy is a relationship with Jesus inspired by the spirit-filled words of the Bible.
“God uses the truth of his Word to make you complete. The secret to personal change is not willpower. It’s not about making resolutions. The secret to personal change in the hard areas of your life is knowing and applying the truth—which you’ll find in God’s Word, the Bible.” Rick Warren
4 Strategies for Spiritual Resolutions
Here are four strategies to help you plan your spiritual resolutions.
- Look Back
When making spiritual resolutions it is important to look back at your spiritual practices and how they connected you to God. What was enriching? What helped you surrender and trust God more? What was a stale practice that may need a reboot? Take time to talk to a friend or mentor as you evaluate your spiritual practices.
Purging sounds harsh but sometimes we need to remove activities, people, or thoughts. Spiritual fatigue can fall on us before we realize our faith is struggling. Before we can move forward with our spiritual resolutions, we need to reduce distractions.
Serving is a great way to show gratitude to God and others. But at times we serve for the wrong reasons or in the wrong places. When making spiritual resolutions, consider if there is a service opportunity that you can purge to make room for another one.
The purpose of serving is to spread the good news of Jesus while meeting the real needs of others. Serving points us to God and ignites gratitude and generosity.
- Plan Ahead
Look at your upcoming schedule and decide what spiritual resolutions are realistic in your life. Often with New Year’s or spiritual resolutions, we are not considering how we will accomplish our goals. It sounds good on paper but will be difficult to accomplish.
- Choose a Word for the Year
Several of my friends, love choosing a word for the year. I resisted this practice at first but in 2019, joined this inspiring practice.
I have been surprised at how God has spoken to me through my words.
I pray about the past year and what God is showing me and doing in my life. I also pray for direction for the coming year. A word or phrase is revealed in my spirit and I follow up by researching the word and corresponding scriptures.
My first word for the year was a phrase, “embracing the goodness of God” which carried me through the turmoil of 2020.
My second word for the year was two words, “take root”. It served as a reminder that for anything in my life to take root and grow to its fullest potential it needed to be aligned with the true vine…Jesus.
My third word for the year was “pivot”. Even though we are grounded in God, we may still need to rotate or change directions in life.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
Romans 12:1-2 MSG
10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Spiritual Life
If you are still deciding on your new year and spiritual resolutions, here is a list focused on spiritual growth that may be helpful.
- Read books that ignite and foster spiritual growth
- Spend time with spiritually hungry people
- Go to church regularly
- Serve regularly
- Pray without ceasing and worship God in songs and actions
- Study the Bible
- Reduce screen time
- Take inventory of your relationships and limit relationships that deplete your emotions and your ability to stay positive
- Write your story of how Jesus changed your life
- Tell someone your story of how Jesus changed your life
“We should make plans—counting on God to direct us.”
Proverbs 16:9 TLB
I hope these insights shed light on your new year and spiritual resolutions.
Do you have any strategies or spiritual resolutions to add to the list? Would love to hear from you in the comments.
Mary Rooney Armand
Mary is the creator and writer for the faith-based blog ButterflyLiving.org. Her writing has been featured on multiple Christian websites and she is the author of the book, “Identity, Understanding, and Accepting Who I am in Christ” and Life Changing Stories, a devotional collection, available on Amazon.