It's that time of year again.
The gyms are packed. The diets go nuts. Facebook friends get engaged...
Oh so many engagements...
January 2017 is right around the corner and you know what that means: New Years Resolution. Everyone is writing their lists of things they want to do, accomplish and achieve for the next year.
And chances are, by scrolling through Facebook, you're feeling a little out-performed by your peers.
I've always been fascinated at how the end of the year can propel us to make frantic changes in out lives. In all reality, it's just another day - but our calendar creates the sense of "seasons ending" and "new beginnings" that motivates us to squeeze in our last-minute moments of inspiration, usually driven by guilt from the prior year's failures.
We are determined to make sure that THIS YEAR WILL BE OUR BEST YEAR YET.
I mean, we're not getting younger, right? There are so many things we want to do but time seems to be unapologetic for ticking by and passing us up.
And with all that in mind, I've come to one glaring conclusion: most of us feel like we're in the same place we were, a year ago, trying to figure out what they heck we're doing.
This is what I call: PLANS INTERRUPTED.
The more people I talk to, the more I realize that the majority of our generation is more confused about their future than they are clear. Life just doesn't look like they thought it would, and it has created a sort of discontent and unrest in their hearts. Many people are wondering if they're ever going to make a purpose or live for something bigger than themselves.
And all the while, we write our "To Do" lists for the New Year, but never really see the things we hope to see... we're always waiting for that next breakthrough.
In my own experience, looking back on this past year, I can legitimately say that nothing in my life has gone the way I thought it would. God has surprised me with so many incredible blessings that I never expected and never planned. But, as a planner, this wasn't always fun and exciting. Most of the time it was grueling and frustrating.
But I love what James says:
"But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
Most of the time, we create "To Do" lists to make our WAITING PERIOD feel more PRODUCTIVE.
But what does it look like to really WAIT WELL?
What does it look like to FOLLOW in FAITH?
How do we PROCEED when our PLANS are INTERRUPTED?
I think it's all about learning to EXPECT the UNEXPECTED.
I'm convinced that WAITING WELL doesn't really have to do with doing more "stuff" or accomplishing more "goals," but becoming more like Christ. In all reality, January 1, 2017 is just another day. It may feel special, but God's seasons work far outside of our own earthly calendar. Sometimes, things just don't happen in the timeframe we wanted them to.
And because of that, I've learned that MY "To Do" list doesn't always match God's "To Do" list for my life. So I've decided that this year, I'm ditching my New Year's Resolutions.
I'm getting rid of my "To Do" lists and I'm writing something else:
A "To Be" list.
This way, no matter what God decides to do in my life, or where He decides to take me, I'll be ready for anything he places in my hands. Instead of getting so focused on a DESTINATION, I'll work on being a good DISCIPLE - so that I can be like clay in the hands of the potter: moldable and malleable.
So in the spirit of 2017, here's my "To Be" List:
- A man consistently seeking God through His Word
- A man of regular prayer & intercession for others, not just himself
- A man who stewards the fire of passion for God, at any cost
- A man committed to loving others selflessly & sacrificially
- A man walking in holiness, specifically - purity of heart, mind & body
- A man who leads others with integrity, compassion, strength & love - modeling Christ well
- A man whom God can trust with anything, anyone and any idea
I truly believe that, no matter where I end up or what I am doing, if I can be THIS TYPE OF MAN, I can be successful because I can honor God. It's more about BEING, than it is about DOING. God has lots of surprises up His sleeve for you this year, but they may look like PLANS INTERRUPTED. They may not fit into your "schedule."
So let's create a new list this year: let's BE.
If you connect with this list in any way, or if you feel like you have no clue where God is taking you but you're committed to WAITING WELL and FOLLOWING with FAITH, I'd like for you to pray this prayer with me:
"God, this year I let go of all my preconceived ideas of how I want you to move in my life and I surrender it all to you, completely. I commit to trusting you in every area of my life and devote myself to becoming a better follower, disciple and child of God. Lead me, by Your Spirit, to be a man or woman capable of living radically for you and modeling Jesus to the world around me. I will go wherever you want me to go, do whatever you want me to do, say whatever you want me to say - but in the times where I don't exactly know what those things are, I will be who you have called me to be: Yours."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jared Ellis was called into ministry at the age of 16 years old, after being delivered out of a life of darkness, depression and depravity. He has traveled all over the world, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ and has worked with some of the leading churches in the nation such as Bethel Church and Elevation Church. He also pastored in Abilene, Texas and grew a youth ministry of 12 students to over 300 - signs, wonders and miracles taking place each week. Jared is the author of "Yes: Simple Response | Radical Results." He travels full-time as an Evangelist, preaching at churches, conferences and events. He is also the GE Coordinator at Christ For The Nations Institute where he teaches and trains Youth Pastors and works as a church consultant. While at home in Dallas, TX, he serves as a worship leader at Trinity Church.