Ready or not, the new year is here. Welcome to 2018! We’re only 3 days in to our New Year’s resolutions, and perhaps you’ve already “fallen off the wagon.” So now, get up, dust yourself off, and start again. Remember everyday God’s mercy is renewed toward you, so make a fresh resolve and stay with it, whatever, it is. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Let me challenge you to make your number one resolve in 2018 to never quit working on the goals you’ve set for yourself. Everyone needs a growth plan. What is yours? How do you plan to grow stronger spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally? You’ve heard it before but hear it again, to fail to plan is to plan to fail, and he/she that aims at nothing is sure to hit it every time.
This year abandon the failed “ready, fire, aim” plan. Set your sights on SMART goals and go to work. Not familiar with SMART goals? SMART is an acrostic for the following: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. This is a common way to set goals in business, but I find it to be helpful when setting personal goals as well.
I won’t share my own growth plan, but I will share that the overarching resolve I have made in 2018 is to listen more to God, to listen better to others, and to listen more closely to what is happening inside of me. You know the saying about God giving us two ears and one mouth, right? It’s so we can listen twice as much as we talk. Sadly, I find myself doing far more talking than listening. I’m also drawn in to the incessant noise and chatter all around me from the news, social media, and just our fast-paced, 21st century lifestyle. It’s hard for me to slow down and get quiet, which I know I need to do in order to hear God’s voice.
All my life people have kindly sought to communicate to me that less is more. Often when I preach I can still hear my mother’s voice telling me, “Mark, you preach too long.” When your own mother tells you to shorten the sermon, it’s probably time to shorten the sermon. I’m also told that my blogs are inspiring but far too long. For quite some time we had the front end of the blog on the e-newsletter, but then you’d have to click over to our website to read “the rest of the story.” Some read the front end but honestly admitted they didn’t take the time to click to the link to our website where the ramblings finally finished. As you can see, we wised up and now have the whole post on the e-newsletter, although you can still click over if you’d like to leave me a glowing remark on how much you enjoy my astute comments.
My letters are so lengthy they’d be more aptly referred to as epistles. I’ll let all of the arm chair psychologists postulate why I’m so wordy. The psychoanalysis will probably range from, “Mark just has a lot to say,” to, “Mark is a narcissist and believes everyone is entitled to his opinion.” The why is immaterial. What is important is with God’s help and yours, I will suppress the need to tell you what I think or tell you what you know to be true anyway.
It’s time to do less external processing and more internal listening. So there you have it. If I hadn’t made a resolution to cut short my commentary, I’d give you a quick Bible study from the book of Proverbs on what God has to say about the power of words either written or spoken and what James has to say about the power of the tongue.
Don’t worry. I’m wrapping it up. I wanted to share that my theme verse for 2018 is, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a) My theme word is “LISTEN.” I resolve to listen with my physical ears, but more importantly with my heart that is open to the whisper of God and sensitive to the voice of the speaker. Yes, Lord I know it’s time to stop talking. I have more to say, but “until next time.”