Taking stock as we begin a new year


Welcome to 2022! The turning of the calendar presents a timely opportunity to evaluate where we are and set goals for where we’re going for the next 365 days. As I review, I often think of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14 and ask myself these questions:

*Am I still learning and growing personally and spiritually? In verse 12, Paul states, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected.” Paul already passionately followed Christ for many years, but he could honestly say he had not yet arrived at complete spiritual maturity and total Christlikeness.

What was he confessing? I am not satisfied with where I am spiritually. Warren Wiersbe said, “A divine dissatisfaction is essential for divine progress.” When we hold our lives up against the example of the Lord Jesus, we should be dissatisfied with our shortcomings and desire to grow more like Jesus. And we should have an openness to look more like Jesus.

*Am I looking backwards or striving to move ahead? Paul had an ugly past, but in Philippians 3:13 he writes, “. . . one thing I do forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead . . .”

Some things we simply need to let go of if we’re going to make progress. My cousin Wesley Harris posted, “I’m not going to end the year on bad terms with anyone. If you did me wrong, you’re forgiven. If I did you wrong, I hope you forgive me, too. I’m moving on in positivity. No one is promised tomorrow, so live, laugh, love, and put God first in everything. Amen!”

As much as humanly possible, enter the new year with a clean slate. We cannot move forward and look backwards at the same time. And holding onto the past often distracts us from enjoying the present.

*What is my passionate pursuit? Paul wrote, “one thing I do” in verse 13. He wrote, “I press toward the goal” in verse 14. The word carries the idea of intense endeavor. Paul cast away every distraction to strenuously pursue his goal of spiritual maturity. The present tense verb communicates continuous action, also. I continuously press forward communicates a lifelong commitment.

 Karen Clark said, “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” What is your plan for spiritual growth this year? What is your passionate pursuit?

*Am I dreaming big? C. S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” What do you desire to accomplish this year? What is your biggest goal for 2022 and what steps will you take to fulfill it?

Most Januarys, I pull out seminary professor Donald Whitney’s “questions to ask at the beginning of a new year.” Carefully consider these questions as you turn the calendar to 2022:

What’s one thing you can do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

What’s the most humanly impossible thing God will ask of you this year?

What’s the single most important thing you can do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

What is the single biggest time waster in your life and what will you do about it?

What is the most helpful way you can strengthen your church?

For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

What is the most important way you will make this year different than last year?

What one thing can you do to improve your prayer life this year?

What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it?

Maybe these questions will help you set direction for your life in 2022. Happy New Year!

David L. Chancey is pastor at McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family invites you to join them this Sunday for worship at 10 a.m. and Bible study at 11:10 a.m. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for online viewing options and more information. Contact Chancey at davidlchancey@gmail.com)