Beginning the Year with Purpose

Sunrise in Nepal last April
Sunrise in Nepal last April

Let’s start at the end. Who do you want to be when 2014 is over?

Have you thought about that? I am not talking about resolutions that will be forgotten by next month – this is about constant, gradual growth that results in ending a year different from who you were when the year began. One of the most important lessons I have learned about growth is that it does not happen by accident. Very rarely does someone look up after plodding the same path year in and year out and realize that they have become a different person. Growth requires intentionality, a pursuit of knowledge, and the willingness to try life in a different way than you have done before. Change comes when we resolve in our heart to think, act, speak, and live with purpose.

As each new year begins, I sit down with the Lord and answer three questions:

  • How did I grow in the previous year?
  • In what ways did God provide for me as my Jehovah-Jireh? (We are given an example all through Scripture of taking time to remember God’s faithfulness to us, and celebrate what He has done for us. This is a beautiful way to begin a new year!)
  • How do I want to grow in the new year? 

 

Last year, I chose Proverbs 31:25-26 to serve as the theme for my growth and development. The verses say “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue”. As I stood on the brink of a year of major change, my prayer was that these two verses would be reflected in my life: that I would face each new day with strength and dignity, and my lips would speak with wisdom and kindness.

2013 was a significant year, because for the first time my trust in the Lord and in His plan was so much stronger than my own will and desires. O, Praise Him! Slowly, slowly, I am learning to trust the One who is eternally trustworthy. So often my own feeble will rises up and declares that I know better, that I can manage my own affairs; yet time and again my way fails. The gospel enters then, reminding me that even my best effort is worthless, compared to Jesus. In His grace, the past 365 days have brought me deeper intimacy with Jesus, a greater reliance on Him & insight into His will and plan, and a few steps closer to becoming like the One I have chosen to follow.

Another noteworthy area of growth over the past year was in seeing my singleness as a gift, and choosing to embrace this time in my life. Recognizing that marriage is not the holy grail – it is a gift from the Lord, full of its own challenges – but singleness is also a gift, one to be treasured and used to bring God glory, a time full of potential and hope! And whether married or single, my focus and my treasure must be in Christ alone.

This year as I prepared to work on answering the questions, I was challenged by speaker and author Tim Elmore to take it one step further and write out a plan for each month of ways to grow in the specific areas. As an almost OCD-planner type, I can’t believe I haven’t done this before. I am so excited for 2014, and to see where I am in 12 months!

2014 Growth Plan:

Theme Verses: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35.

Areas of Desired Growth:

  • Leadership
  • Writing & Photography
  • Community
  • Priorities
  • Relationship with Christ

I have written out specific ways I want to grow in these five areas, and have picked out 25 books to read during the year (two for each month, with one extra) on a wide variety of these topics, decided what conferences I am going to attend, and located areas in my life that need change in order to re-adjust my priorities.

The Lord has designed each one of us differently, and maybe all of these lists and having so specific a plan sound like torture to you. Everyone’s growth plan should look different, because we all grow in different ways. My challenge to you is to live this year with purpose. To start by asking the Lord to help you know who you are right now, and what He wants your life to look like by the time the year ends. Whether you answer the three questions above, or completely different ones, the goal is to dream big, and trust the Lord to grow you in mighty ways this year. As we grow, our impact on His kingdom most often grows along with us! What joy to experience growth brought about by the Holy Spirit, and make an eternal impact on the world.

Happy New Year! May the Lord richly bless you this year as you walk in obedience with Him.

2 thoughts on “Beginning the Year with Purpose

  1. What an inspiration to begin 2014! Thank you for your thoughts. I will certainly be using some of what you said to start this year off with a bang and finish the year different than when I started. Praying for blessings on your life as you seek Him, Emily!

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