Jonathan Edwards made seventy resolutions for his life. I’m not quite that ambitious, but I’ve got four for the coming year.
To Be Happy in God
George Müller said, “My first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, was to have my soul happy in the Lord.” It’s my primary business too. I want God to answer my prayer from Psalm 90:14: “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
I pray that God makes me satisfied with him so that he is my greatest desire and my greatest joy.
To Number My Days
When I started pastoring in 1991, I announced the retirement date on my pension statement: 2032. It seemed so far away that people laughed. Nobody’s laughing anymore. I find myself calculating how I can preach all the Scriptures I want to preach, how to read all the books I want to read, and how to fit in the important things I’ve got left on my list.
Being aware of my own mortality, and the shortness of life, is a good thing. It humbles me. It makes me aware of how small I am, and how short my life is. It forces me to prioritize the things that matter for eternity. It also causes me to hold on to what’s eternal: God’s Word and God himself.
“Before you long for a life that is imperishable, you must accept that you are perishing along with everyone you care about,” writes Matthew McCullough’s in his book Remember Death. “You must recognize that anything you might accomplish or acquire in this world is already fading away. Only then will you crave the unfading glory of what Jesus has accomplished and acquired for you. And you need to recognize you are going to lose everything you love in this world before you will hope in an inheritance kept in heaven for you.”
To Curate My Attention
I’m more or less in control of my phone, or so I thought. The problem is that Apple came out with something called Screen Time: “With Screen Time, you can access real-time reports about how much time you spend on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and set limits for what you want to manage.” Evidently I spend a lot more time on my devices than I realize.
Tony Reinke writes, “The more distracted we are digitally, the more displaced we become spiritually.” I want to keep using my phone and technology, but I want to be careful in how I use it. I want God’s Word to influence me more than notifications and likes.
To Repent of My Mixed Motives in Ministry
Our motives are mixed. “I cannot pray but I sin—I can not preach to you or to any others but I sin—I can do nothing without sin; as one expresseth it, my repentance wants to be repented of, and my tears to be washed in the precious blood of my dear Redeemer,” preached George Whitefield. I won’t be able to get rid of my mixed motives in ministry, but I want to grow in recognizing them and repenting of them. I want my goal to be loving God and serving others more than measuring my performance.
These are some of my resolutions for 2020 and beyond.