It’s time to say, “Goodbye” to 2015 and welcome a new year. With a fresh calendar comes new goals, ambitions, and dreams. Tone those love handles. Read the Bible every day. Watch less TV. The options are endless.
But, be honest. How many New Year’s goals live to see February?
If you want a systematic plan for setting goals and keeping them, I recommend Michael Hyatt’s “5 Days To Your Best Year Ever.” This post isn’t about systematic goal setting.
This is a manifesto.
What is a manifesto? It’s a declaration of values, a statement of principles. A manifesto is bold, inspiring, and often rebellious. It challenges status quo and mediocrity. It says, “My life matters. This world matters. I refuse to waste my days. I will stand for something.”
Goals are good. But most of us suffer from goal-setting fatigue. We need inspiration, at least, that’s what I need. We’re desperate for a spark, something more than “I will lose 20 pounds this year” or “I will read the Bible every day” or even “I will share my faith with one person every week.”
What we need is a manifesto.
Well, here it is, 6 statements that will inspire you to live with passion.
1.) I will seek Jesus first, above everything else.
Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God…and all these things will be given to you.” Most church people are desensitized to these words. Here’s how I know. Take a question, any question. How do I overcome my anxiety? What’s wrong with the church? What are the steps to salvation? What’s the solution to racism?
Now, what’s your first response?
If your first response isn’t Jesus, you’re desensitized to the power of this statement. I know. I don’t understand your problem. Your church’s issues are complex. The Bible clearly says salvation includes “this” or “that.”
But Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God.”
You see, what you seek first informs everything else. Call me naive, inconsiderate, or whatever, but I believe seeking Jesus first radically changes everything else.
This year, pursue Jesus first. Stop placing hope in a series of steps, a new medication, or a newly elected official. Place your hope in Jesus. Devote your conversations to Jesus. If someone wants to discuss other stuff, like why Obama sucks, why the church down the road teaches false doctrine, or why a particular group is to blame for the systemic race problems, politely leave the conversation. This year, your focus is Jesus.
2.) I will place my relationship with number one above all other relationships.
One day, a religious leader approached Jesus with a question. “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” You know the first commandment. But listen carefully to the second (Jesus says it’s equally as important).“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Important point…you will always treat your neighbor how you see yourself. You can’t hate yourself and love your neighbor. Many people have an unhealthy relationship with themselves. They look in the mirror and say, “Dang, I look good. Someone should put a bow on me because I’m God’s gift to women (or men).”
No, you’re not. You’re full of pride (and probably insecurity). Your relationship with #1 is unhealthy.
Then you have the other side of the coin. Many people, sick of their choices, looks, etc., refuse to look themselves in the mirror.
Until your relationship with number one is healthy, your relationship with your neighbor will suffer. When you think too highly of yourself, you look down on your neighbor. When your view of number one is too low, you will raise others to unrealistic levels.
This year, learn to love number one. Refuse to avoid the man in the mirror. Refuse to throw pity parties. You will leave the “woe-is-me” attitude in 2015. Whatever baggage lies in your heart, you will dig it up and remove it. In doing so, your relationships with others will flourish.
3.) I will use my words to give life to as many people as possible.
For Christmas, I wrote Tiffani a book called Words Create Worlds. I won’t bore you with the details, but the premise comes from Genesis 1. Just three verses into the Bible, God begins creating. What’s his building tool?
God speaks, stuff falls into place. At their core, words create. Light is powerful, but it needs an opponent. It’s only effective when darkness is in the opposite corner. Words don’t need opponents. They create from nothing.
Here’s the point. You have at your disposal the same tool God used to create the world. Words. Don’t underestimate this power. I believe words have killed many more people than any “conventional” weapon. Words drain life from your soul. Words also give life to your soul.
You will be held accountable for how you steward this tool. Will you breathe life into others with your words? Will you take life from others with your words? Will you do nothing with your words?
This year, choose to give life with your words. You will not withhold encouragement from someone because it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable. You won’t use your words as a weapon, regardless of the pain you feel. You have a powerful tool at your disposal. Steward it well.
4.) I will live with courage, take risks, and pay no attention to cynics.
“If you don’t live courageously, you will stand by the water cooler and talk about those who do.” I love this quote from Jessica Hagy. It also reveals a lot about courage.
Every day, you have a choice. Live courageously or talk about those who do. The water cooler includes cynics, fearmongers, skeptics, manipulators, and the like. They will talk trash about you. They might even attack your family. But the water cooler crowd isn’t upset with you. They’re upset with themselves because they wasted their lives.
The world has enough commentators. Remove the headset. Get on the field. Take a stand. Jump in the mess and vow to make an impact on the world. God has a plan for you, and there’s a zero percent chance it includes water cooler conversations.
This year, choose to be courageous. You will not allow commentators to distract you. And you certainly won’t allow people who wasted their life to coerce you into wasting yours. As Nehemiah said, “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down” (Neh. 6:3).
5.) I will stop trying to “do” and spend time being “still.”
Recently, I was talking with a family member about “lazy Saturdays.” This family member couldn’t understand how I watched football for three hours on Saturday when there was so much to do. The house needed to be picked up. The cars needed an oil change. Yada. Yada.
I’m not indicting my family member. I understand the mindset. Our culture equates “doing” with production. To sit, rest, or be still is lazy.
After this conversation, I thought about why we hate stillness. Why am I so against doing nothing? Why do I become anxious when I have nothing to do?
I came to a stark realization. Maybe our addiction to busyness has nothing to do with productivity and everything to do with our fear of dealing with ourselves. We don’t like who we’ve become. We aren’t sure who we’ve become. Silence reveals our emptiness.
When will we put down the facade? When will we realize that more tasks won’t equate to more satisfaction? God says we must be still to know Him (Psalm 46:10). He is the power source, the ONLY source of life. Stillness refuels our souls. Prayer is more than talking to God. It’s pumps life into our hearts and minds.
Looking for life and satisfaction by doing more is equivalent to refueling an empty gas tank by siphoning gas from your own tank.
This year, choose to be still. You will not search for satisfaction and contentment by doing more. Even if silence reveals emptiness or forces you to deal with some messy stuff, you will choose stillness.
6.) I will be present, regardless of the events on tomorrow’s calendar.
God created you to live in the present. You don’t have strength or wisdom to control tomorrow. Yet, most of us spend an incredible amount of time controlling future events. No wonder anxiety and worry plague us. Anxiety is the result of trying to control tomorrow.
We eat lunch with a friend, but our mind is focused on the “to-do” list. We draw up worst-case scenarios, hoping to prepare ourselves for tragedy. But we miss precious time with the very ones we fear losing. We pour money and resources into 401Ks and savings account, thinking our fat nest egg will give us future security. Meanwhile, we’re one doctor’s visit or false turn from losing everything.
All the while God is saying, “Why are you wasting so much energy on tomorrow? I control tomorrow. Place your faith in me. I will give you what you need. As it stands, you’re filled with anxiety, worry, and discontent because you’re trying to control something I never asked you to control. Be present. Let me handle the rest.”
God never promises grace for tomorrow. The moment you step away from the present to deal with the future, you step outside of God’s grace.
This year, fight to live in the present. Go to war with our culture’s love of tomorrow. Every time tomorrow’s worries knock on the door, turn the knob ready to scrap. I’m not a fighter, but some things are worth “throwing blows” over. Your joy and peace are two of those.
If this manifesto inspires you, write down the points. Look at them every day. If not, come up with your own manifesto. Regardless, it’s time to stop meandering aimlessly through life. It’s time to live inspired.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!