By: Steve Wilmot
Several years ago, I gave up making New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that I’m against setting goals or that I don’t have any changes to make in my make-up as a man.
It’s just that I’ve found from personal experience and listening to others, the resolutions we make usually don’t last much past the end of January — if we even keep at it that long.
That’s depressing and frustrating, and why attempt something that we’re 95 percent sure we’ll fail at? Better to not try, right?
So, I’ve chosen to follow the suggestion of a North Carolina pastor which he gave to his church in 2007.
Here’s a summary of what he told them: “The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD.
This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing.”
He suggests taking some time before the new year to pause and ask God to tell you what your One Word for 2024 should be. It’s a great suggestion.
I’ve done that exact thing in recent years and the results have been amazing. One year I sensed God give me the word Engage because I’m one who likes to sit back and watch rather than to engage with family and friends.
One year, God gave me Bold. Another year First as my One Word. I’ve made much greater success changing important areas of my life employing the One Word approach than in all my feeble attempts to keep resolutions before combined.
I read a blog a while back from a youth pastor named Greg Stier. He, like the North Carolina pastor, had been frustrated with the poor success rate of the New Year’s Resolutions approach. But with Stier it’s more than an issue of success or failure. Listen to his perspective:
“Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet? Best of luck (cough, cough) because you will need it trying to keep your resolutions.
Not because you are a bad or lazy person, but because you are actually called to something much more noble than a shallow list of self-improvements.
“That’s why I would suggest you make a riskolution, instead of a resolution…why? Because when you add risk into the equation, you take on a higher calling that can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside you.”
Called to something more. And that always involves risk. Stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s Noah risking his reputation by becoming a boat builder in his old age… in a desert… with no body of water for hundreds of miles.
It’s Abraham leaving his home, family and friends, comfortable life, and everything that was familiar simply because God asked him to.
If that wasn’t risky enough, God’s call carried an even bigger risk: “Go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12.1). He didn’t even know where he was going when he packed up and began following God. (Try explaining that to your wife!)
It’s Moses risking his life by returning to Egypt, where he was wanted for murder, to obey God and lead three million people from slavery to the Promised Land.
It’s Mary risking her upcoming marriage and potentially death by stoning to say yes to agree to carry the Son of God in her womb.
By comparison to these men and women, my risks amount to nothing. Still, I hate risks. I prefer the safe. The predictable. The sure thing.
But as I look back on my life, the times of my greatest growth have come when I’ve taken a risk. I’ll bet it’s the same for you.
So, what do you say? Let’s make a riskolution for 2024. Take a risk that can only succeed when energized by your active faith in an all-powerful God. Me? I’m combining One Word with riskolution this year.
I’m challenged by some of the last words Paul ever wrote found in 2 Timothy 4.7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”
I’m choosing Fight as my One Word for this coming year. Not fight as in starting arguments or being combative with people who disagree with me or don’t like me.
But fight for what God has called me to be. Fight to aggressively do what God asks me to do. The Christian life is a fight.
We have an enemy dedicated to ruining our lives and distracting us from hearing and following the voice of God in our lives.
He is determined to trap us in sin and not let us go free. He wants to break up our marriages and destroy our homes as a safe haven for our children.
He will not leave us alone because we play nice. He’ll bother you even if you don’t bother him. So why lay down our weapons and let him run roughshod over us year after year? He will only leave you alone if you stand up to him and fight. That’s my One Word riskolution for 2024. What’s yours gonna be?
Steve Wilmot is a former Edgerton, Ohio area pastor who now seeks “to still bear fruit in old age” through writing. He is the author of seven books designed to assist believers to make steady progress on their spiritual journey.