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With New Year's Resolutions, focus on 'better' and not 'more' says Georgia Baptist state missionary

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2017, like every new year, holds promise for improvement. But a Georgia Baptist state missionary suggests to not focus on just sticking to a schedule and checking off boxes. GETTY/Special 2017, like every new year, holds promise for improvement. But a Georgia Baptist state missionary suggests to not focus on just sticking to a schedule and checking off boxes. GETTY/Special

It's Jan. 6, not even a week into 2017. How are you doing at keeping that New Year's resolution?

So far you've probably stuck to it fairly well. In fact, Americans aren't as lousy at the annual rite of I'm-going-to-do-better-at-blank that you'd think. In a Marist Poll last month, 68 percent of respondents said they kept at least part of a goal for 2016. Granted, "part" is about as ambiguous as you can get and speaks to our determination in claiming some success. It's possible you're one of the 32 percent who didn't even sniff victory regarding weight loss or getting your finances in order. 

While importance can be found in the usual list of resolutions, Christians wanting to grow in faith add a few more. And while there's nothing wrong with setting lofty goals for Scripture reading or praying every day, something can be said for quality over quantity.

Increase doesn't always bring the increase

That's the position of Marty Youngblood, state missionary in Church-Minister Relations for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. In his experience, the most popular spiritual resolutions people want to add to in the upcoming year are:

  • Pray 
  • Read Scripture
  • Share their faith
  • Go to church
  • Tithe

"It appears people are more apt to want to prayer and church attendance," he said. But, he cautioned, focusing on simple addition won't always bring the result you want.

Marty Youngblood Marty Youngblood

"I would advocate that in the areas of praying, reading, and sharing one's faith, they concentrate on doing things better, not just more often. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide them. Read Romans 12:1-2 and commit to personally live out Paul's challenge within these verses for the new year."

Youngblood added that to prepare for 2017, it was best to look back on 2016.

"During the Christmas season I reflect over what Christ did for me personally, from the manger to the cross. I realize He gave all to deliver me from sin and give me abundant life on earth and eternity to come. Therefore, I assess my previous year's journey with Christ. Then, I look at my current relationship with the Lord. 

"Where I have failed I make adjustments and 'resolve' to bring Him greater glory in the New Year."

Youngblood gives suggestions for increasing your chances in growing in Christ:

Don't go it alone. "Seek God's help to keep your resolutions (Ps. 121:1-2). Get a friend to to hold you accountable and encourage you biblically and emotionally."

Use technology. "To help with my devotional life, I use Twitter feeds from Christian leaders and ministries such as Georgia Baptists, Oswald Chambers, NAMB, OneCry, and apps like Bible.Is, YouVersion, and iDisciple."

See how others have done it. Youngblood's example goes back a little further than you might expect. "Go online and research how great Christians through history have resolved to glorify God in their everyday lives. For example, one of Jonathan Edwards' personal resolutions was 'Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake."

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