Many of us start each new year with a plan. We have clear goals in mind, and we know what it will take to accomplish them. But then that initial burst of enthusiasm we felt on January 1st wears off. The year doesn’t feel bright and shiny and new anymore. We gradually lose our motivation and slip back into our old patterns. We forget about our goals or despair of ever reaching them. We encounter some difficulty and give up.
To follow through and reach our 2020 goals, we must constantly renew our minds. We must wake up each day and recommit. After a setback, we must pick ourselves back up and keep pressing on. When achieving our goals seems impossible, we must keep going.
That’s why we focused on mindset this week. In the daily devotionals, I highlighted verses that can help you maintain your faith and resolve throughout the year as you pursue your goals.
Here’s what we talked about:
Rejecting the Spirit of fear
We all have fears. It is inevitable that you will, at some point — or, more accurately, several points or even during long periods of time — feel fear. But we do not have to be controlled by our fear.
The voice inside you that whispers fear and doubt into your heart is not from God. The voice that tells you you aren’t good enough. The one that says you can’t do big things. The one that discourages you from setting goals and going after them with everything you have. The one that urges you to avoid all risk. The one that keeps you from being real and vulnerable. The one that constantly worries what others will think. The one that is terrified of failure.
That voice is a liar. It may seem like it’s building a wall between you and the world to keep you safe, but it’s really building a wall between you and God to keep you stagnant. As soon as you put your fear in the driver’s seat, you’ll start drifting away from the path God has laid out for you.
Action step: Refuse to be ruled by your fear. Instead, allow God’s spirit of power, love, and self-control to guide you.
Building With God
There are two ways to pursue your dreams: with God, or without Him. Obviously, the latter is the wiser choice. Why? Because any happiness or success we achieve without God will be fleeting.
This truth brings to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:24-27, where he speaks of the wise man who built his house on a rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. After the storm, only one house was left standing. The other builder, as it turned out, had labored in vain.
Your foundation matters. That’s why Proverbs is full of exhortations to seek God, trust Him, and align ourselves with His will. When we take that advice to heart, we can labor confidently rather than anxiously and find rest even as we work hard.
Action step: Instead of making your plans first and then asking God’s blessing, invite God into the planning stages. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance.
Taking Care of Your Soul
As Christians, we know the here and now isn’t the whole picture. We know that below the surface, we each have an internal life — a soul — that needs God in the same way our lungs need air. And we know it is our souls that will endure long after our earthly achievements have been forgotten. Our souls are eternal.
It can be so easy to neglect your spiritual health when you’re chasing after physical, professional, or financial goals. However, our soul should always be our top priority. In both the Old and New Testaments, Scripture reminds us that when we focus on our spiritual growth, everything else tends to fall into place.
Action step: Take time to care for your soul. (I also highly recommend reading Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg.)
To accomplish big goals, we must have faith. You have to step out in faith, and you have to follow through in faith.
Scripture is full of stories where, in His name and through His power, God’s people accomplished big, impossible things by faith. Think of David defeating Goliath, Elijah calling down fire on Mount Carmel, or Gideon’s army routing the Midianites. These people certainly felt fear, but their faith was strong enough to overcome it — and that didn’t happen by accident.
You’ve probably heard the saying, often attributed to Sitting Bull, that compares “good” and “evil” to two dogs fighting inside us. The lesson is that the dog we feed the most will win. This principle applies to the struggle between fear and faith, as well. If we don’t feed our faith, it won’t be strong enough to overcome our fear when we need it to.
Action step: Be intentional about nurturing your faith, and see what you can accomplish.
Remembering the lord and fighting
We serve an awesome God. The same God who parted the Red Sea. The same God who toppled the walls of Jericho. The same God who made the sun and the moon stand still. The God who fights for His people and keeps His promises.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of just how great and awesome our God is — not so that we can feel warm and fuzzy inside, but so that we can push through our fear, doubt, apathy, or anxiety and FIGHT.
We can find several examples in Scripture where God worked miracles for His people. Time and again, we witness God working miracles, removing obstacles, and leading His people to victory against seemingly insurmountable odds. He fights for us and with us — but only when we step out in faith.
Action step: Whatever goals you set for 2020, step forward in faith and fight for them. When you feel like giving up, remember how great and awesome your God is and KEEP FIGHTING.
As we conclude our Gearing Up for the New Year Series, I wanted to leave you with one final challenge:
Make your relationship with God your number one priority. Don’t leave your faith on the sidelines or turn it into just another item on your to-do list. Instead, make it a central part of your plans. Commit to taking care of your soul, growing your faith, and seeking God in everything you do.