Writing a Simple New Year's Resolution for Christian Youth
There was one summer when my mother sat me down to review what I should have learned in school the previous year. I don’t remember what words she used, but I do remember the emotions; she was rather upset when she found out I could not spell my name. We then practiced the multiplication table and I redeemed my illiteracy with a flawless recital of the multiplication table from two all the way to nine. In my defense, she never made me practice writing my own name, while I had to constantly recite the Korean song that sings the multiplication table (you can see an example here, although the one I had to sing was much duller and more tedious).
Like spelling or multiplying, there are things that become easier the more times we do them, such as riding a bike or playing the guitar. On the other hand, there are things that remain just as difficult regardless of how many times we do them; like going to the DMV, taking the trash out in the winter, or filing taxes, just to list a few. You know what else fits well into this second category? Writing and achieving a New Year’s resolution.
New beginnings present a chance for renewal and a fresh start. However, writing New Year’s resolutions can be quite a daunting task — especially for students, who often feel that their lives are already full of assignments and commitments. Some make the mistake of writing resolutions so monumental or complicated that they give up before they even start! A New Year’s resolution for Christian youth needs to be simple enough to achieve, while also presenting a personal challenge to grow in living out the Word of God.
At Enlightium Academy, we encourage students to use the task of writing a New Year’s resolution as an opportunity for contemplation; think of it as an Old Year’s Reflection. Students should consider some attainable resolutions that will benefit them throughout the year. Here, I give you three examples of resolutions that I consider simple enough not to give up, but also challenging enough to require continual effort throughout the year. You can just take these and make them your resolution for the upcoming new year, or you can use them as a starting point for your own unique resolutions. Either way, I hope reading these will be of help to you!
Academic - “I will maintain a thankful attitude towards my education.”
I think it is easy to lose patience or motivation (or perhaps even both!) when it comes to a particular lesson in a course, or the course as a whole. This is especially true when it is a class I’m completing as a requirement, not of my own choice.
Whenever that happens, I think it’s important to remember that God’s will for our lives is not that of dreading the task at hand, but instead to “rejoice always, pray continually, [and] give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a). This includes the circumstance of being in school. The Apostle Paul clearly tells the believers that, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, [you must] do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Remember that everything we do can be done in a way that glorifies God. When we work on the tasks that He has entrusted us, we are serving God and benefiting ourselves, not just trying to please a teacher, earn a grade, or get through school.
Personal - “I will take time each day to pause and spend time with God.”
It has become part of our culture to be busy. We use our busyness to measure our productivity, and we consider our productivity to be our value as a functioning citizen. It is now common to see people identify themselves with their job, when as Christians, we know that our true value and identity is that of a beloved child of God and citizen of heaven (Galatians 4:6-7, Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 13:14). There is a story in the Bible that very well describes the difference in priority apparent in the lives of those who love Jesus more than their busyness: the story of Mary and Martha found in the gospel of Luke.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed— or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42).
Notice how Jesus does not reprimand Martha for her busyness and tell her to be more like Mary. Jesus knows that we can’t live just by not doing anything but sit at His feet; someone does need to cook and do the dishes! But at the same time, we also need to make sure we pause and rest appropriately. So this year, take at least ten minutes a day to sit or lie down and be still. Let the busyness rush past you and do not bow to the stress.
Relational - “I will find ways to serve my neighbor at least once a day.”
The Bible makes it clear that being saved is not by what we do, but only by faith (Romans 3:28). However, it also says that the things we do should reflect that we are saved (James 2:24). We see many times that Jesus taught His followers to love one another (John 13:34), which is the external action (intentionally being Christ-like to others) of an internal decision (accepting the grace of God).
And although love begins as a decision in your heart, it extends to how you express it. Just a few verses before Jesus commands His disciples to love one another as He has loved them, we see Jesus washing His disciples’ feet! He tells them to do as He has done, because He has set an example of how to show love (John 13:15).
Additionally, whenever the Bible tells us that “Jesus felt love” towards a person or a group of people, we see that He shows that love by serving them. After he tells the reader that Jesus felt compassion for a large crowd, Matthew also immediately follows that statement by telling the reader that Jesus healed their sick (Matthew 14:14).
To be a Christian is to be Christ-like and follow what Jesus taught us to do. We must love one another, not just as an inward decision, but also as an outward action. I encourage you this year to begin the habit of intentionally finding ways to show love to other people.
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