Archives For New Year’s Resolutions

We are once again at the time of the year when we reflect on the past year and look ahead towards the next.

Reflection brings clarity.

Reflection brings conviction.

Reflection can bring new commitments.

Let me reflect on one thing I’ve learned over the past year and share a commitment I’m making for the next year.

I was privileged to be able to take a 9-week sabbatical this past summer after 27 years of ministry. It was one of the most important things I’ve ever experienced in my ministry.

Side note: Here are a few random bits of advice if you are blessed to take a sabbatical.

1. Do whatever you need to do to properly care for your soul. I was advised to stay home, leave home, travel, do nothing, do something, write a book, don’t write a book, etc., etc., etc. I ended up traveling around the country and speaking a few times. I went to 18 different states. Each trip was planned for a special purpose and with special people. My wife and I traveled to the Northwest to be mentored by someone I deeply respect. My entire family took a 3-week road-trip to see family in the Midwest. My sons and I spent a week in the mountains at cross-country camp. I spent a week by myself on the beach in Southern California. My wife, two daughters, and I took a road trip to Indiana. I wouldn’t trade a moment of my sabbatical. I owned it and the reward was renewing.

2. Budget to spend time being mentored by someone you respect in ministry. I paid a renowned author and leader for a couple of days of mentoring. It was an unbelievable blessing and set the tone for the rest of my sabbatical.

3. Budget for your sabbatical. Make sure you have enough money to do what you need to do and for your church to cover your absence.

4. Disconnect from work in every way. For 9 weeks I didn’t take calls, texts, or emails from my staff or from church members. A few people snuck through the “firewall” early on–which only served to remind me of why I needed a break–but…eventually…people gave me the much-needed space I needed to rest, reflect, and be renewed.

5. Ask the Lord to speak to you and then listen for His reply.

I did this and very clearly heard Him say (through sermons, Scripture, wisdom from friends, songs, and through nature), “Be still and know that I am God.”

Back to the point of this post…

To me, going on sabbatical and then coming off sabbatical, felt like stepping off the belt of a fast-moving treadmill, but remaining on the treadmill, and then trying to step back onto the racing belt.

If you’ve ever trained on a treadmill you’ve probably experienced what I’m referring to. You’re running at a fast pace–trying to reach a time or distance goal–but your phone rings, or buzzes, or your neighbor on the next treadmill over wants to chat and you don’t want to fall and be catapulted into the stack of free weights behind you, so you lift yourself off of the fast-moving belt and rest your feet on either side of the belt while the belt keeps turning. When you’re done with your “important” call or text you may have done what I’ve done in the past with varying levels of success: try to get back on the treadmill while the belt is still turning so as not to pause your workout and have to start the clock all over again.

Most of the times this works, but not always, and I don’t recommend it…ever!

Getting off the “treadmill” for my sabbatical was refreshing.

Getting back on the “treadmill” after my sabbatical was stupid and I don’t recommend it!

Life is busy for most of us. It’s just how it is. But, the pace at which I was living before my sabbatical was unsustainable. Even so, shortly after coming off my sabbatical I realized I was getting back onto that racing treadmill again and it scared me.

I know it’s unsustainable.

It scared me with how easily I could forget what God had clearly spoken to me over my time away: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Based on my actions, as I got back to work in ministry, it was as if I’d really heard the Lord say, “You better get busy because I can’t do this without you.”

Activity does not equal vitality.

I want my ministry to His church and His people and His world to be vital and only and all about the Lord and His will for my life, so I’m getting off the treadmill and getting on the path.

A path is the best metaphor there is for how–and where–we should invest our time and energy as we live this side of Heaven.

Psalm 23:1-3

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Proverbs 3:6

In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

Jeremiah 6:16

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.

Here are some important truths about a path in comparison to a treadmill and reasons why a path is a much better choice than a treadmill.

Paths vs. Treadmills

Treadmills are, by nature, exhausting.

Paths are, by nature, refreshing (or they should be) because they are generally in nature.

Treadmills take you nowhere.

Paths take you somewhere.

Treadmills can only accommodate one person.

Paths can accommodate as many as necessary for the journey.

Treadmills are designed to move you along at a pre-determined pace.

Paths are enjoyed at a pace of your choosing.

Treadmills cost money to use (either through a gym membership or through purchase).

Paths are free.

Technology is required for treadmills to work properly.

Paths require no technology.

Treadmills run you.

We run paths.

Well, that’s enough for now. I think it’s time for a walk. It’s something I’m now committed to.

Can you think of any other differences between treadmills and paths that clarify the importance of getting off the “treadmill”? If so, share them in the comments section.

©2017 Arron Chambers

 

 

 

Advertisements

2011-year-resolution-400x400

So, the gym has been crowded for the past couple of days with all of the people who have resolved to exercise more this year.  I’ve worked out most of my adult life and I can make a prediction: the gym will not be as crowded this time next month.

With good intentions we make resolutions to do more, be more, and eat less, but old habits are hard to break and…very few resolutions will survive the winter.

I’m goal-oriented and most of my goals will take years to realize–and I work towards them year after year–so I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions for a specific year, but if I were to make New Year’s resolutions here are a few things I would do to ensure that they have the best chance of being realized.

Resolve to Pray Before you Say

Pray about your resolutions before you say what you’re going to do differently in the coming year.  God’s plans always take precedence. Too often we bring our plans to God and ask Him to bless them rather than asking Him to bless us by revealing His plans for our lives.

Make Realistic Resolutions

Too many of us get unnecessarily discouraged because we fail to fulfill resolutions that are just not realistic.  Make resolutions that are doable, reachable, and attainable.  It’s realistic to resolve to stop smoking, stop swearing, spend more time with your kids each day, read more, get more involved at church, etc.  Goals that are measurable are–in my opinion–the best kind of goals.  Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.  A realistic goal is to memorize one scripture a week, but you might find yourself unnecessarily discouraged if you unrealistically resolve to memorize a book of the Bible each month and then fail to do so.  Unless you’re my wife’s cousin (my wife’s cousin Keith memorized entire books of the Bible for Bible Bowl), this is a pretty tall order.  As you make resolutions, resolve to make changes that are attainable and then celebrate when we reach them.

Make Unrealistic Resolutions

Too many of us don’t dream big enough dreams for our lives.  As you make resolutions for the next year make sure that at least one of your resolutions is a stretch…personally, spiritually, or physically.  You know the big changes that you need to make in your life and–as you pray–God will make these evident too, so why not pick one of them and tackle it in the next year?  Aim high, dream big, and shoot for something that will radically change your life and then when you reach the goal…celebrate!  Let me give you an example of what I’m saying here.  Have you ever read through the Bible?  Why don’t you try to read through the Bible in the coming year?  Here’s a good plan you can follow to read through the Bible in the next year: One Year Online Bible. That may, at first thought, seem like a completely unrealistic resolution for the next year.  “I could never read through the Bible in one year,” you may say, but I would say “People do it all of the time.”  As you pray about God’s plan for your life for the next year, ask God to reveal at least one “unrealistic” resolution that you can add to your list.

Well, I better finish this post so I can get to the gym and get my workout in.  It’s been crowded lately.

So, the gym has been crowded for the past couple of days with all of the people who have resolved to exercise more this year.  I’ve worked out most of my adult life and I can make a prediction: the gym will not be as crowded this time next month.

With good intentions we make resolutions to do more, be more, and eat less, but old habits are hard to break and…very few resolutions will survive the winter.

I’m goal-oriented and most of my goals will take years to realize–and I work towards them year after year–so I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions for a specific year, but if I were to make New Year’s resolutions here are a few things I would do to ensure that they have the best chance of being realized.

1) Resolve to Pray Before you Say–Pray about your resolutions before you say what you’re going to do differently in the coming year.  God’s plans always take precedence. Too often we bring our plans to God and ask Him to bless them rather than asking Him to bless us by revealing His plans for our lives.

2) Make Realistic Resolutions–Too many of us get unnecessarily discouraged because we fail to fulfill resolutions that are just not realistic.  Make resolutions that are doable, reachable, and attainable.  It’s realistic to resolve to stop smoking, stop swearing, spend more time with your kids each day, read more, get more involved at church, etc.  Goals that are measurable are–in my opinion–the best kind of goals.  Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.  A realistic goal is to memorize one scripture a week, but you might find yourself unnecessarily discouraged if you unrealistically resolve to memorize a book of the Bible each month and then fail to do so.  Unless you’re my wife’s cousin (my wife’s cousin Keith memorized entire books of the Bible for Bible Bowl), this is a pretty tall order.  As you make resolutions, resolve to make changes that are attainable and then celebrate when we reach them.

3) Make Unrealistic Resolutions–Too many of us don’t dream big enough dreams for our lives.  As you make resolutions for the next year make sure that at least one of your resolutions is a stretch…personally, spiritually, or physically.  You know the big changes that you need to make in your life and–as you pray–God will make these evident too, so why not pick one of them and tackle it in the next year?  Aim high, dream big, and shoot for something that will radically change your life and then when you reach the goal…celebrate!  Let me give you an example of what I’m saying here.  Have you ever read through the Bible?  Why don’t you try to read through the Bible in the coming year?  Here’s a good plan you can follow to read through the Bible in the next year: One Year Bible Online. That may, at first thought, seem like a completely unrealistic resolution for the next year.  “I could never read through the Bible in one year,” you may say, but I would say “People do it all of the time.”  As you pray about God’s plan for your life for the next year, ask God to reveal at least one “unrealistic” resolution that you can add to your list.

Well, I better finish this post so I can get to the gym and get my workout in.  It’s been crowded lately.