2021 is almost over, and good riddance. (It feels like I said that exact same thing a year ago.)
This year, like the last, has had some challenges. At the end of 2021, some of us are older and wiser than we were a year ago. Some of us just feel older.
Even still, this is the time of year when we look ahead with anticipation. We turn the page on the calendar and begin to dream about what exciting things may come next. Now is a perfect moment to pause and set our intentions for the next year.
And while this year has shown us that we can never predict what might happen, it’s still spiritually healthy and important for us to look forward and dream about what God might do.
Here are 3 New Year’s Resolutions for Christians in 2022.
1. Resolve to Resist Cynicism.
Y’all, we have been in the thick of it for a solid two years.
COVID-19 has given way to the Delta variant and now Omicron. (I haven’t found Greek letters this troubling since I graduated seminary.) Church leaders, government officials, and citizens have consistently clashed over how to rise to the challenges of the pandemic in order to preserve life and mitigate risk, perpetuating long term uncertainty and flaring tempers at every turn.
Civil unrest continues to ebb and flow with every high profile verdict that does or doesn’t go the way we think it should. A strange assortment of folk heroes have arisen, claiming to speak for Christians but saying and doing things antithetical to Jesus’ values. We have seen constant uprisings and a violent insurrection.
The stories of abuse, both within and without the church, continue to flood in.
People continue to be entrenched in their political convictions, often putting themselves at odds with those they share pews with on Sunday––whether those pews are virtual, in-person, masked, unmasked, or some contentious combination thereof.
All the while, the major political leaders in our country continue to make grand promises while painting bleak pictures. One side promises to “make America great again,” while employing apocalyptic and dystopic language to describe our current circumstances. The other promises to “build back better,” while promising death and illness for Christmas to the unvaccinated.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.
And that’s okay. It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to experience periods of discouragement. But in 2022, we can’t let that take away our sense of hope in what Jesus can do.
It’s easy to be cynical. So make a concerted effort not to be. Don’t let a sense of hopelessness or helplessness seep into your heart. We are not hopeless. We are not helpless. Jesus is our hope and our help, and he is powerful.
Things don’t tend to get better all at once, and some things never get better. But there is still hope for the Church. Even when it seems like everyone is either confused or departing from what you believe to be faithful, God is still working.
Remember that, sometimes, all it takes is a mustard seed.It's easy to be cynical. So make a concerted effort not to be. Click To Tweet
2. Resolve to Think Deeply and Empathetically.
I have heard it said that we live in a time where people have convictions that are “firmly held and poorly formed.” Some friends or loved ones may immediately come to your mind.
It was once thought that if only the masses had better access to information, we would be able to gain consensus on important issues and agree upon beneficial courses of action for the collective good. In December of 2021, I think we can all agree that this theory has been proven demonstrably false.
Our unfettered access to information has really served to overwhelm us. And in our desire for a modicum of certainty, many of us have simply chosen a tribe and abided by its respective narrative, regardless of contrary facts or analysis.
As a result, we tend to shout about how foolish the “others” are in the echo chambers of people who already agree with us. It’s not only ineffective––it’s quite tiresome.
But Jesus has instructed us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” among the wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 10:13). If we are to be wise, we need to stop reacting and start listening, contemplating, and empathizing.
Having knowledge doesn’t mean that we have wisdom. But we do serve the God who promises to give wisdom “generously to all without reproach” (James 1:5).
So in 2022, if someone makes a claim about someone else that seems audacious or outrageous, first be suspicious. Listen, investigate, contemplate, and pray. The world is almost never as black and white as we imagine it to be.
Seek first to love others, even those you disagree with. Never assume they are as evil as your first impression from a third party source would seem to indicate. Be willing to meet people in the middle. Resolve to “count others as more significant” than yourself, and “let your reasonableness be known to everyone” (Philippians 2:3; 4:5).Having knowledge doesn't mean that we have wisdom. But we do serve the God who promises to give wisdom generously. Click To Tweet
3. Resolve to Prioritize Your Health (Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual).
According to a recent report released by Lifeway Research, researchers found that “as people contemplate their 2022 resolutions, more than 2 in 5 Americans (44%) say previous New Year’s resolutions have focused on their health.”
And it makes sense. “After a season in which avoiding sickness was on most everyone’s mind, many Americans say their New Year’s resolutions address their health,” the report says.
This is a good impulse. We should follow it.
Christians are notorious for neglecting their health, particularly those who are in leadership. A number of years back, I was at a church event where a buffet-style meal was being served. All the food in the row was delicious but decidedly void of nutritional value. The pastor who was standing next to me in line looked down at the spread, back at me, took a deep breath, and said, “You know, the church will kill your body to save your soul.”
What he said was true in more situations than just the buffet line. Too often, Christians, and especially leaders, have poor nutrition and inadequate rest, sleep, and exercise. We’re too busy doing the work of ministry to worry about that stuff.
What’s more is that we often think that focusing on the physical is antithetical to being spiritual. But what’s healthy and what’s holy are more closely aligned than we tend to realize. God created your entire being, both the material and immaterial, and he wants you to care for it. In fact, you may struggle emotionally and spiritually if you are not physically well.
As we continue to wade through a pandemic that has been accompanied by a mental health crisis, resolve to take intentional steps toward healthy living. While you may still experience illness of a physical or mental nature, a healthier person is harder to take down. For the sake of your continued effectiveness in the mission that Jesus has given you, pay attention to every aspect of your health as you head into 2022.Christians are notorious for neglecting their health, particularly those who are in leadership. Click To Tweet
Weary or Not, 2022 Is Coming
Most of us are beleaguered by the continued turmoil of the last two years. Many of us started this year hoping that it would be worlds better than the last, only to realize that many of our challenges continued on with us. And the bad news is that we don’t know when (or if) things may let up.
But don’t let that discourage you. Let’s take a deep breath and look to the next year with a sense of hope and grit. God never promised that life would be easy or that he wouldn’t give us more than we can handle. But he did promise to be with us. He also gave us each other.
Ready or not, 2022 is almost here––full of potential challenges and opportunities that we may or may not be ready for. But in the words of Corrie ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
check out some of our other posts
- Why Christians Should Support Religious Liberty for Everyone, Including Non-Christians
- The Great Commission Requires so Much More Than Simply Inviting a Friend to Church
- 3 New Year’s Resolutions for Christians Looking to 2022
- Why So Many People Are Leaving the Church and What We Can Do to Stem the Tide