Sticking with Your New Year’s Resolutions

Every year, the pastors at our church challenge us by asking us about our “Word for the Year.”

The “Word for the Year” is essentially a word or theme for the year that describes the spiritual growth step the Lord wants us to take during the year.

At the beginning of 2014, I felt the Lord wanted me to focus on the word “Invest,” after hearing a few sermons in a week and that word was prevalent.

So how can you get started so you can choose a word for this year? Obviously, prayer is the first step. Pastor Jimmy gave us some examples of how he prayed:

  • “Lord, what do you want to do in my life this year?”

  • “Lord, what do you want to teach me this year?”

  • “Lord, how do you want to change me this year?”

  • “Lord, what do you want to be true in my life or more true in my life in a year from now?”

These are my own goal categories each year: spiritual, home, personal/social, marriage, financial, family, health/physical fitness, and ministry.

The good news is I wrote down my 2014 goals that included investing in my health by exercising at least three times a week for 30 minutes, investing in my finances by refinancing my mortgage and investing in my spiritual life by memorizing Philippians.

The bad news is I didn’t put the goals in a place that I would see them every day. I started off well and did well in certain categories, but overall my 2014 year in review came up short of accomplishing my goals. Yet, I learned a better way to achieve personal and spiritual growth goals for 2015.

It is helpful to remember with any goal this important insight from Scripture:

“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Pastor Jimmy recommends writing your “Word for the Year” on 3x5 cards and posting them on a mirror, desk or refrigerator so you can constantly be focused on that word and praying through that word for the year.

In addition, conduct a word study of how that word is mentioned throughout the Bible. BibleGateway offers an easy way to do this with their search engine.

So, how do you measure spiritual growth and maturity?

Pastor Jimmy said it was simply by asking ourselves, “Is our life honoring to God and attractive to others?”

Our goals shouldn’t move us into legalism, but grace. Are we growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Philippians 1:6 is a reminder that God is not finished with us yet.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Next Steps

What goals or resolutions do you have for your spiritual growth in 2018?

Rich began his journalism career as a newspaper correspondent for his local paper in Ohio. He covered city council meetings, wrote features and took photos. Rich served with Worldwide Challenge magazine from 2008-2016. Now, he writes field reports for another Cru ministry. Contact Rich at

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