So there we were, a group of close friends, encircling a fire like a belt tightened snuggly around a waist.
The night’s festivities were coming to a close and we were already breathing the fresh air of our first day in 2019.
Although it wasn’t that fresh…We live in Florida. Which means deeply inhaling this air is like standing over a dishwasher machine opened right after its completed its steam cycle.
Two hours into the new year, I somehow managed to catch myself, my freshly built deck, and a can of gasoline on FIRE…. Don’t worry, the gasoline can is fine.
You would think after a stunt like that, one of my New Year’s resolutions would be “taking a class on fire safety”, however the “get out of my comfort zone” resolution took precedence. (that night I found out how uncomfortable fire is when you’re wearing it)
As we sat surrounding that quaint little fire, we decided to take turns telling one another our New Year’s resolutions for 2019. It was a fun activity to hear all of our goals and desires articulated out loud. There was the obligatory “get shredded” resolution that we heard often from the guys (which I found slightly offensive when I think about all the work I put into maintaining my Dad bod). The resolutions covered a spectrum of self improvement, to financial responsibility, to growth in education, new careers, and new business ventures. Every resolution would either improve us personally or improve our lives for our families and our businesses.
They were all good. Even responsible. And all definitely beneficial.
But they were just wishes at best, like coins tossed into a shopping mall fountain.
Unless we invested more than just words into those resolutions, they would still be hanging in the air.
Every resolution requires a response. Resolutions consist of more than just hot air.
Nothing is easier than making one, and nothing is harder than keeping one.
So what’s the secret? Whats the key to bringing these things to fruition? Why is it so easy to give up? Why do the majority of us fail at sticking it out?
The answer is simple, but not easy.
Its found in a little word that starts with the letter “P”.
No its not Pterodactyl…. Although, you were close.
That pesky and problematic word that gnaws at our limitations and reveals our true colors.
The dictionary defines it like this; [pur-suh–veer–uhns] is the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties ,obstacles, or discouragement.
Staying steady is hard. Sticking it out isn’t easy. Slugging it out in spite of the struggles, driving headlong through the difficulties, amidst the debilitating discouragement, is just flat out tough. Its exhausting and excruciating.
But on the other end of all that pain is a promise.
(Imagine the car salesman slapping the hood of “perseverance” and exclaiming “but wait theres more”!)
Thats right, there is an incredible promise for those that persevere.
When Im looking for words to live by, to base my life on to propel me with an existence full of purpose- The Bible is where I look.
Right there in a short little letter from Jesus’ brother James, is this promise about perseverance:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
– James 1:2-4
Heres another translation of this verse by the late great theologian Eugene Peterson:
“So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Perseverance is a process that leads to maturity.
The promise is that if we patiently endure, we end up a complete, fully developed human beings not lacking anything.
Perseverance needs to do a work in us and when its done the results are extraordinary.
The problem that our generation faces is we live in an instant-fast food-amazon prime-cant-wait-for-more-than-a-second-for-anything society.
And the process of perseverance is less like a microwave and more like a crockpot.
It takes time. It takes tears. And it may even take years, but its still doing its work.
I hate to be anecdotal and I’m definitely not claiming to be an expert on the subject of resolutions. However, I’ve discovered a few things that are grounded in biblical principles and modern psychology that may help us stick it out while we are in this perseverance process.
Tip #1. Make your resolutions visible.
There has been an extensive amount of research done on this phenomenon of writing goals down. One study I read found that people became 42% more likely to achieve their goals and dreams simply by writing them down. It has something to do with how our brains respond to the actual activity of writing something and seeing it vividly in front of us constantly.
The Bible even has something to say about this in Habakkuk 2:
“And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming.”
So write those resolutions down. Scribble them on your bathroom mirror. Put them on a sticky note over the speedometer in your car. Nail it on the ceiling over your bed. We are visual creatures with powerful imaginations. We can actually hack our brains to ensure we strive to actualize what we visualize. What we see is what we get. So lets get after it.
Tip #2. Share your resolutions with others.
According to research, a major factor that effectively helps people achieve their goals is accountability. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.
There is power in relationships. The right person in our lives can dramatically increase our ability to persevere and accomplish what we set out to do.
Of course the Bible has a lot to say about relationships. Heres a few of my favorites highlighting this truth.
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough!” -Ecclesiastes 4
“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” – Proverbs 17
Maybe this is why we all love that old song “Lean on me”
Come on in your best gospel voice sing it out loud with me “Lean on me, when your not strong, Ill be your friend, Ill help you carry on….For! it won’t be long, til Im gonna need somebody to leeee eannn on”
“Just swallow your pride”!!!!!
OK you can stop now…. It was getting a little out of hand… and your neighbors may be wondering why it sounds like a raccoon with a bad case of strep throat is screaming in your house.
But its true! We all need somebody to lean on! And I believe if we surround ourselves with the right people, we can achieve absolutely anything.
Tip #3 Don’t Quit.
You know what diet works the best? The one we stick to. You know what budget system has the greatest results? The one we stay committed to. There isn’t a magic formula. There isn’t an easy button. There isn’t an App that you can download to remove all the difficulty from life.
We will inevitably fail and fall however the greatest and ultimate failure is if we just give up.
The Bible has an awesome reminder in Proverbs concerning our failures.
it says “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.”
Regardless how much we get backtracked or sidelined due to hang ups and unhealthy habits. Don’t quit. Stay the course.
If you fall, fall forward and get back up. If you relapse then return to your plan and see it through. If you mess up and make a mistake, shake it off and sharpen your will and try again.
Whatever you do, don’t quit.
Hold tight. Hold fast. Jumping ship isn’t an option.
Dave Ramsay says it like this “The only time you get hurt on a rollercoaster is if you try to get off before the ride is over.”
Ride it out.
Remember that “P” word?
We must Persevere.
Plan on pain. Predict that there will be problems. But never for second allow the option to quit.
You know Perseverance had a second definition in the dictionary that I thought may be helpful as well.
Its described as a “continuance in a state of grace to the end”.
the Bible describes Grace as God’s enabling power at work within us.
Thats right. We aren’t on our own. We don’t have to do this by ourselves. We’ve got help.
“Our help comes from the Lord” the psalmist declares.
God will work within us and through us to accomplish what He has enabled us to do.
Grace supports and sustains us.
Like fuel for a fire, like oxygen to our lungs, like blood in our veins,
it is the electric current surging through the life of every believer,
it is a force to be reckoned with as it moves and animates our lives.
There is never a time where we exceed the need of this Grace, and there is never a moment where we steep below the reach of this Grace.
We constantly abide in this ever present, ever persistent, empowering Grace of God.
God won’t give up on you so don’t give up on yourself.
Heres to all my Resolutionaries!