The New Year is young, and whether or not we have made official resolutions we all have an idea of the kind of person we would like to be. Many of us would like to be healthier, wealthier, or happier in some other way. For Christians, a common desire is to be more spiritually mature. However, our efforts to attain these goals often weaken and die before any actual growth can take place.
On the other hand, there may be habits that we would like to break; unhealthy patterns that keep us from growing spiritually. In spite of our best efforts, these ingrained patterns can persist until we give up fighting them from sheer exhaustion.
If this sounds familiar, let's consider a new approach. Instead of setting large goals for ourselves, let’s think smaller.
The small choices you make every day are votes for the kind of person you will become. Let’s say we want to be the kind of person who wakes up early and spends an hour reading the Bible. This is an excellent goal, but when we wake up we immediately find ourselves facing many obstacles. Maybe we automatically reach for our phones to see the time or the weather and quickly find ourselves distracted by social media or emails. Or maybe we see the trashcan is overflowing and decide to empty it. Whatever the distraction, one will lead to another and we are no closer to becoming more disciplined in reading the Word.
The problem is we are focused so much on the large battle (reading for an hour) that we neglect the smaller skirmishes against the distractions that block our path. It’s the small choices, not the large goals, that shape the person we are.
"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” said writer Anne Dillard. It’s a sobering statement when we consider the many distractions that pile up on all sides throughout each day, many of which we give in to. But with prayer and patience, progress can be made.
Think ahead to the end of your life. What kind of person do you want to be when you die? Consider how that kind of person spends their days, the kinds of activities they enjoy, and the things they prioritize in their lives. What small choices does that kind of person make every day? Those small choices add up into days, the days add up into years and the years into a full life. Identify the direction you want to move in, and plan for each obstacle, no matter how small.