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New Years Resolutions for Missions Leaders

Each new year brings the opportunity to practice one of the most loved and hated R words in the English language: resolutions. Forty-one percent of people make resolutions each year, and only 8-9 percent keep them. The highest enrollment of gym memberships (10.8 percent) happens in January. There’s all kinds of science and studies around why this happens that you can explore for yourself. This article isn’t predominately about how to keep resolutions, but here are a few tips for sticking to your goals this year:

  1. Remember that you are human. As Westerners we often forget this. We struggle with the idea of moderation in everything from eating, drinking, work, exercise, etc. Many of us struggle with the idea that we can’t do something.

  2. Be self-aware. Shoot your shot. Underpromise and overdeliver. Don’t take on a resolution that’s not really you.

  3. Don’t give up when your humanity shows itself. Whether it's an exercise plan, a Bible reading plan, a diet, or some other goal, a key to keeping resolutions is to be able to restart when you fail. If you have two cheat days instead of one, celebrate that you didn’t have five cheat days. If you read your Bible five times a week instead of seven, celebrate that you are reading more than the three days a week you read last year.

  4. Check the motives behind your resolutions. Too often our motives for resolutions can be vanity, people pleasing, or comparison to others.

  5. Create a system of reminders so the resolutions become habits.

Now, what should you actually be doing? You might be tempted to go all in and come up with a list like Jonathan Edwards’s famous seventy resolutions. While it’s great to be inspired by lists like this, we need to be honest with ourselves and realize most of us can’t start out with something this lofty. I mean, look at these:

  • 40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.

  • 10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

  • 27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

Dude was a stud, that’s for sure. Read the other sixty-seven and you will feel like a baby in the faith compared to this giant. Your list might not seem like much compared to his, but, thankfully, we don’t have to be Jonathan Edwards to make meaningful resolutions for the coming year.

I’m sure I could come up with a whole bunch of great challenges for you as a missions leaders. I have many opinions about what others should do with their lives (most of which I’m sure are way off). If you have not had the chance to read our most recent blog, “Reflecting as a Missions Leader,” you can find a list of ideas there. But before we can make our resolutions, we need to take time to reflect on what God has already been doing so we can look at what’s next.

Did you go back and read it?

I wasn’t kidding. Go read it.

You’ve read it now? Ok, good.

Building off of that article, let me pose some questions for you to consider for a fruitful 2022:

  1. What can I resolve to do to become healthier physically, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally?

  2. How can I resolve to live and work out of the strengths God has given me instead of reacting to what others want me to do?

  3. How can I live in a state of trust and rest instead of a state of hurried striving?

  4. What are ways that I can show greater personal love and care to our Sent Ones this year?

  5. What are areas of ministry I should start, continue, or stop?

  6. How could I be better at having hard conversations with those in the Sending Pipeline and those overseas?

  7. How can I lead other leaders in our church to love the nations in a winsome, non-manipulative way?

Our performance and accomplishments do not affect God’s love towards us. Our forgiveness was bought for us on the cross 2,000 years ago, and the ability to overcome sin was placed on us through the perfect life of Christ.

I heard a great phrase some time ago that describes our overall standing in this world: “Cheer up! You’re worse than you think!” What? How is that supposed to be good news? It is good news for believers everywhere and for missions leaders who are working hard to help a complacent world see the need for Christ among the nations. Our performance and accomplishments do not affect God’s love towards us. Our forgiveness was bought for us on the cross 2,000 years ago, and the ability to overcome sin was placed on us through the perfect life of Christ.


In light of the gospel, we can step forward into a new year with great hope and power to accomplish the goals before us and great freedom from condemnation when we don’t (Romans 8:1). The most important thing to remember as you make your resolutions is that you belong to the One who has fulfilled all righteousness for us. He loves us on our good and bad days and gives us the power to do what’s right and to overcome sin. May God be glorified through your life this coming year as you seek to work hard for His glory out of a place of rest and trust in Him. May Jesus’s words in Matthew 11:29-30 rule your hearts in 2022:


“Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


What are some of your news years resolutions as a missions leader? Add them to the comments below to encourage and challenge others.

 

Mike Easton is the International Program Manager for Reliant Mission. Prior to that Mike was the Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, for eight years, where he got to experience the ins and outs of being a sending church. He served on staff with Cornerstone 2006 to 2022 in varying roles–from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for two years. Mike is the Director of Content for the Upstream Collective. Mike, his wife, Emily, and their four kids continue to live in Ames, IA, and serve at Cornerstone.


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