Do you make resolutions each New Year? And a few weeks later, do you find them broken and forgotten amidst a pile of good intentions?
The annual insistence of the New Year resolution seems to me to suggest two acknowledgements: (1) that things are not as good as we would like and (2) that we would like them to be better.
The first of these shows some humility. We admit, perhaps after an over-indulgent Christmas, a stressed December or the January bank statement, that we are not the person we want to be, experiencing the life we would like. There may be a catalogue of blame or self-recrimination – and it’s sadly noticeable that both divorce lawyers and suicide-prevention teams are especially busy at this time of year. But it may also be an opportunity – that acknowledging the problem is the first step to a solution.
The second acknowledgement is that we desire improvement. We want to make things better – whether our own lives or the lives of others. We are not satisfied and we believe that we may have something to contribute to effecting change.
I’m starting with the man in the mirror.Michael Jackson, Bad 1987
We’d love to change the world – who doesn’t want peace across the globe. We’d love to change our country – who doesn’t wish for a more collaborative and constructive politics. We love to change our community, our neighbourhood, our church, our family. But why not start with number 1 – with a personal commitment to growth.
So it is that each year we encourage members of our church family to spend some time in self-reflection. Taking the opportunity of a New Year to evaluate our own lives and commit ourselves to change.
Self-reflection is an important part of Christian growth – taking time to consider oneself and take stock of what we’re really like. It can also reveal changes that have taken place slowly, and so be a challenge or encouragement to us.
Self-examination could easily be mere introspection, but when we reflect we are asking God to work in us. Pray that God would reveal truly what’s going on inside; ask that He would show us where we need to change.
In Psalm 139, King David reflects on God’s knowledge of us
1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.King David, Psalm 139
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar…
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Of course, the aim of any self-reflection is to learn where we are and what we’re like, so that we can more closely follow Jesus,
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.King David, Psalm 139
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
So, let me invite you to join the wider church family in a process of personal review. The attached questionnaire is designed for church members to use privately.