New Year…New Opportunity…New Growth

New Year2016 is here!  How is it going thus far?  If you are like me, your New Year’s resolution might be a work in progress in your mind versus an actual resolution.  I am still fleshing out what I am thinking I would like to do this year, hence this blog.  The good news is I am thinking about it.

Now, some take an entirely different approach to New Year’s resolutions.  For instance, my sister-in-law said she is going to focus on doing things that are spiritual.  For her, the New Year is a chance to refocus on her relationship with God and how that impacts others in her life.  I like it!  I see that as kind of like a pre-Lenten commitment plan.  Still, others tend to typically focus on self-transformation such as with their body image and physical health.  This is very good as we must always remember that our “bodies are temples of the holy spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).   But we must also remember, as St. Paul exhorted St. Timothy, that physical exercises have limited value compared to the spiritual (1 Timothy 4:8).

There are many who are resolving, as we speak, to get out of debt in 2016.  Some will be concentrating on their careers and attempting to advance themselves in new ways and through renewed efforts.  These are good of course and we should be attempting to grow and improve ourselves through our careers.

Okay, so what am I thinking about doing this year?  As a perfectionist, I am constantly self-evaluating.  I take others opinions and thoughts very much to heart.  I have been at times both the beneficiary and victim of the critiques and feedback of others during the past 13 years of full-time ministry.  When others offer their input, especially when it is coming from people I greatly respect, it always penetrates the depths of my soul.  As I strive to best serve the Lord through the call He has given me, I am amazed at how distracting all the feedback can also be at times.   There is a danger in trying to please everyone and so one can easily be derailed from their mission from God.  This is a slippery slope for me to be on as my weaknesses and faults are many.  So, I am thinking about resolving to get off that slippery slope.  I am planning to take a year off from over thinking and second guessing.   The problem is I don’t know how to do that?

So here’s my consolation and hope for you this year.  I got this from the January issue of Magnificat and St. Gregory Nazianzen:

Let each one of us, no matter what his walk of life or circumstances, offer to God all that he can on every occasion according to the measure of his capacity, according to the gift bestowed upon him, in order that by displaying virtue in all its forms we may secure all the heavenly abodes, reaping all that we have sown  or rather, storing up in God’s silos all that we have garnered.

Let one contribute his riches, another is abject poverty; one his zeal, another his appreciation of the zeal of another; one a commendable deed, another a perceptive thought; one a timely remark, another eloquent silence; one unimpeachable instruction and a way of life to match; another an open and receptive ear; one virginity that is pure and severs all contact with the world; another a marriage that is devout and in no way divorced from God; one fasting that is not tainted with pride; another feast tempered by restraint; one unbroken prayers and spiritual hymns, another the care of the poor; all of us our tears, all of us our purification, all of us our upliftment and straining forward to what lies ahead.

My take away from these words are resolutions are good if they have an element of offering to God.  In other words, yes, you should get out of debt so that you can be free to serve God more in all that you do and not be burdened by the stress of living outside your means.  Of course you should strive to get healthy so that you can be free to live and love others as long as God wills.  Certainly pursue career advancement so that you can be free to help others pursue their own dreams and fulfill God’s will in their lives.

So for me, I am going to offer to God my zeal for helping men become the true leaders, protectors and providers they are created to be.  I am not going to allow distractions to that mission take my zeal or focus away.  When burdened by overwhelming feedback and criticism, I am going to offer up my tears and purification and see this as an opportunity to grow closer to God and further forge my contribution of zeal.  How will I measure how I am doing?  Simple…my peace will or will not be disturbed.

Sounds good right?  I will check back throughout the year to let you know how I am doing.

Have a blessed and healthy New Year!