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Sub—I’mNeverGoingToKeepTheseResolutions—liminal

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Will Cunningham, our Family Ministries pastor, and his wife, Cindy, are sharing their wisdom about parenting and relationships on a new blog, Fire at Will. You can read more of their responses here at his blog or send them a question.

Hello, friends. Recently, Cindy and I received a question from a parent who seemed overwhelmed with the possibility of a brand new year. Her question went like this…

“I’m a young mom with three children. Every January, I feel obligated to set some new goals––particularly when it comes to being a better parent or wife. But inside my head, a voice keeps reminding me they’ll all be broken by February. So, I wind up setting no goals at all. Is it normal to hate New Year’s resolutions?”

When I read this question, my heart went out to this young mother. Something in her words implied she felt all alone, stuck between her desire to improve and her fear of failure––a captive of her own subliminal messages. In the next few paragraphs, I’m going to suggest something to this mom, (and perhaps to you, too), that may revolutionize the way you look at goals. Here is my revolutionary suggestion…

Restrict yourself to ONE GOAL!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. If I take to heart Will’s revolutionary suggestion, what will become of multi-tasking? Or three-point sermons? Or being a parent, a lover, a businessman, a friend, an entrepreneur, and a Christian… all at the same time? If I focus on just one thing, won’t a lot of other things suffer?

Not if your one goal is a matter of character, rather than behavior. That’s why each New Year, Cindy and I set only ONE GOAL for ourselves––and that one goal has nothing to do with what we do, and everything to do with who we are.

Let me illustrate.

By nature, I am a “kind” man. I can do “kindness” with my eyes closed, because it’s the way God made me. My father possessed this same trait. Today, his body is buried in a tiny, country cemetery in Piedmont, Oklahoma, and on his gravestone are etched the words, “He was kind”. Thus, “kindness” is not only part of my nature, it was part of my nurturing, too.

On the other hand, “toughness” comes less easily for me. Don’t get me wrong––I’ve done many brave things in my life, and accomplished feats that required deep resolve. But somewhere in my DNA, there is a toughness gene that is underdeveloped. It shows mostly in my relationships with the people who depend on me to handle life’s common pressures with tough repose. That’s why even before 2017 begins, I’ve taped a note to my mirror that reads, “Be Strong”.

Every morning in the year to come, I will see that note while I am shaving, and it will remind me to strive toward my one important resolution. Everything else in my life, however, will continue on exactly as it was before I set this one goal. I will still try to eat more healthily, exercise with greater consistency, memorize God’s Word daily, and so on. The hope is that EVERYTHING I do will be effected positively by this one, over-arching, excellent aspiration––“Be Strong!” And in the end, I know I will be more excellent myself because of it. Remember…

Excellent people do one thing excellently!

So, to that mom who feels defeated before the New Year has even begun, we say… take heart! The answer to New Year’s resolutions is not to avoid them altogether. The answer is to set ONE goal, instead of many. And when you find that one goal that seems to fit you perfectly, make sure it is a matter of your character, instead of an action you must accomplish.

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