By Barry Howard
The start of a new year is usually perceived as a season for clean slates and new beginnings. Depending on your perspective, you might consider New Year’s Day as a time to turn over a new leaf, a time to start that post-holiday diet or a time to generally clean up your act and put your life in order.
I am not usually inclined to compose a list of New Year’s resolutions, but in 2009 there are some specific goals I want to work on personally and professionally. As I prepare for 2009, here are my big five resolutions … more or less:
1. Eat less and exercise more. My physician keeps reminding me that I can increase the probability of enjoying prolonged good health if I begin now to eat a little less (reducing 200-300 calories per day) and to exercise more (30-45 minutes per day.)
2. Talk less and listen more. Several times in children’s sermons I have emphasized that God created us with two ears and one mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we talk. As I grow older, I am discovering the need for me as an adult to limit my speech and to be more intentional and focused in my listening.
3. Meet less and minister more. In recent months, the church I serve has taken some strategic steps to minimize the number of meetings we ask leaders and workers to attend and to increase the number of ministry opportunities we provide. Even as a church staff member, if I am not careful, my time can be consumed in meetings where my presence is not really needed. In 2009, I want to spend more time engaged in ministry action.
4. Criticize less and encourage more. Maybe it’s the after effect of an election year or maybe it is a side effect of the recession, but I have heard enough criticism in 2008 to taste its toxicity. While constructive criticism may be of great value, negative and petty criticism tends to be contagious and demoralizing. Our local and national leaders, our ministers and our neighbors need our prayers and encouragement more than they need darts of criticism flying their way.
5. Spend less and save more. As I experience the challenges of the current recession and as I think about retirement possibilities down the road, I am persuaded that I need to spend a little less this year on frivolous things and to put a little more in savings to provide stability for the future.
As I prepare to ring in the New Year, there some things I need to do a little less often and others I need to do a little more frequently. How about you?