Whatever your dreams and goals were for 2018…they landed where they landed…Mine too. We just turned the page on 2018, and we’ve landed in 2019. For all of us that means something totally different. For some of us, we’re stoked out of our minds for a new year and have a sense of anticipation for what’s to come. For others, 2018 was really hard, and we’re just glad and relieved we made it.
No matter where we’re coming from, the calendar change does give us a chance to reset a little bit.
As I’ve been thinking and praying about the new year, what’s really on my heart to share with you all is five important questions that you need to ask, to both maximize and simplify 2019.
(This is Part 1, so we’ll get to the first 3 questions today, and stay tuned for the other 2 next week).
I realize we could ask ourselves 50 important questions, but you’d be here all day if I gave you 50 questions…You know how I like to ramble.
But anyway these first 3 questions come from the fact that we all live in 3 directions…upward, inward and outward. Now, I wrote a book by that name, but it’s all based off Jesus’s teaching in the Greatest Commandment.
So the first question is about this Upward idea: What single upgrade can I make to grow closer and deeper in my relationship with God?What single upgrade can I make to grow closer and deeper in my relationship with God? Click To Tweet
Pay attention to that word “single…” That means it’s just one thing. I really struggle with this because I want to make a list of ninety things. But this question is getting at that one thing — that if we took that particular step in our walks with Jesus, we would grow deeper and closer to Jesus…We would find our hearts and souls anchored in the Lord in a more profound way.
I want you to write that thing down and text it to yourself. Just say “this is one thing that I want to do in 2019 to grow closer to Jesus.” What I find is that for most of us if we ask ourselves for just one thing…we already know the answer. It’s the thing that God’s been ministering to us all along. Our relationships with God drives every other thing that we do in our lives…The upward drives the inward and the outward. So if our relationship with God is a little crooked, then the way we see ourselves is going to be a little bit crooked and the way we see the world is going to be crooked. Upward is the pacesetter. It’s the true north for each one of us.
The second question brings us to Inward. Ask yourself: What single change can I make to become a healthier person?
Again, this is one change. Just one thing that will help us all become healthier individuals and be able to love ourselves with the love that God has for us. One of the weird parts of the fall of Adam and Eve is that we end up living into the destructive side of our personality – what the Bible calls the flesh. And that is the default condition of humanity. What I have learned is when you put your faith and trust in Jesus, you’re forgiven for all of that flesh…but there is still the reality of our flesh at work in all of our lives. We know sometimes we don’t live into it, but the temptations are still there. And other times we actually do give into them. So what is just one single change you can make that will help you become a healthier person? That you can see yourself, and live out the reality of what it means to be a child of God?
You know I always say that if we live inward without first living upward, (if we love ourselves without first loving God, we end up with narcissism and entitlement and self-centeredness. Which is in some ways what our culture is doing right now…our culture is living inward without living upward. But we always start upward: who God is changes the way we see ourselves. And we’re all learning how to love ourselves the way that God does, and to see ourselves the way that God does.
The third question is Outward: What single thing can I do to have the biggest transformational impact on my community and my world?
Just one thing. What’s just one thing we can do that will help us have a greater transformational impact outside of our world? We all want to make an impact. And Jesus said that we’re more blessed to give than receive. But I think what happens for many of us is the outward piece is the thing that gets lost in the shuffle because we start to feel like we’re overwhelmed with the upward and the inward. But God has redeemed each one of us to be a light in the darkness, to be a city that’s set on the hill that cannot be hidden, to be salt and light.But God has redeemed each one of us to be a light in the darkness, to be a city that's set on the hill that cannot be hidden, to be salt and light. Click To Tweet
I always say, does any meat get seasoned if the salt is still in the salt shaker back in the spice cabinet? The salt only fulfills its purpose when it’s added to something. And a light bulb has no value on a shelf in the closet. It only adds value when it’s actually twisted into the light socket and turned on…God has good works that he’s prepared beforehand that we would walk in them, as he continues his work in our life. And so what’s one thing you can do that will help you to have the biggest transformational impact in your community and your world?
So these 3 questions are a start for all of us. And I think for each one of these questions we’re looking at, sometimes the hardest thing about growth is just accepting what’s right in front of you…but the best way for all of us to grow is to acknowledge where we’re at right now, and then take simple steps from there. So this week, let’s all start by answering these 3 questions and making 3 simple changes to our daily lives. And next week, I’ll have 2 more questions for you!