It’s easy to make goals. Really easy. Our culture has trained us to think this way, and all of us will at least make one goal this year. But there are a few problems with my normal goals and resolutions–they are all about me. They are about my success. I have goals to be a better husband, father, boss and author. I’ve planned out how to become a better businessman, blogger and seminary student. And so far, I haven’t made any goals focused on benefiting others. Even my goals for being a better husband and dad have selfish motives–I want to feel good and successful as a spouse and parent.
Each of us struggle with our default mode of goal making–we make goals that directly benefit us. It’s natural for us to want to be more successful, healthy and efficient. It’s not a bad thing to see weaknesses in our lives and want to fix them. But, as intentional Christians, we are to live lives of service toward others.
I didn’t come up with this idea, Jesus started it. In Philippians 2, we see Jesus described as a humble servant who gave up his throne in Heaven to accomplish the will of his Father. Ultimately, he allowed himself to be killed for our benefit. That was Jesus’ resolution for his life on earth. Interestingly, Paul’s point in this passage is a challenge to us–to imitate Christ, and reflect the same humility that Christ showed. Paul tells us that we are to intentionally look past our own interests to the needs of others.
As you think through your goals for this year, make some resolutions for how you will better serve others in 2017. How can you make a difference in someone’s life? How can you serve orphans, widows, foreigners and neighbors? How can you intentionally take on the same nature of Christ–the nature of a servant–and humbly “count others as more significant than yourself” (Phil. 2:3)?
If we are going to be intentional Christians in 2017, these are the most important goals that we can make.
One final note: I don’t think your goals for helping others should be something you come up with on your own. I think that God needs to speak those into your life and heart. In other words, don’t just pull out a journal and try to come up with goals for how to better serve other people in 2017. Instead, meditate and pray on Christ’s humility and Paul’s encouragement to imitate Christ in this way. As you think and pray, write in your journal all the things that God lays on your heart to do.
May God give you eyes to see and ears to hear what he would have you do this year. May God bless you in 2017. May his face shine upon you. And may you find rest and peace in him.
Happy New Year!