While most of us have different routines as we approach the end of the year, one thing we have in common is our New Year’s resolutions. Whether we call it a resolution or not, we have that moment when we reflect on the current year and state how the next year will be different. In 2019, a common phrase we heard was having a 20/20 vision in 2020. However, no one envisioned being quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Or maybe it was that pledge to do something different, lose weight, complete our book, or something similar, and we realized at the end of the year that we didn’t meet those goals. One of the common reasons why we do not meet those goals is that we have the vision, look forward to the victory, but seldom plan for the journey in between.
So, why is it that we seldom focus on the journey? Well, it is in that journey that we have to do the work. It is that area in which we face ups and downs, challenges, and setbacks. Let’s be honest; we’d much prefer to have a vision, wake up the next day, and find ourselves at the finish line. So, what can we do to ensure that the journey is something we can endure? One of the best things to do is to plan for the journey. We often have a vision or goal, and we either get started immediately or get overwhelmed because we do not know where to start. Moving forward with this mindset can often lead to failure, where most of us give up and stop working towards our goals. But there is wisdom in God’s Word that can help us understand what we can do.
Therefore, let’s look at this from the most critical perspective in life: becoming a disciple of Christ. We can have goals of owning businesses, taking trips, exercising, losing weight, writing a book, and so much more. But our most important goal is to be a disciple of Christ as we live in God’s kingdom as His child. Jesus tells us in Luke 14:28-33:
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
I won't turn this into a deep doctrinal study because this blog may become a book. So, instead, I will summarize by saying that Jesus wants us to understand what we are getting into, what it will take to get it done, and to be willing to commit to the plan. In other words, there is more to being a disciple than just confessing Christ. We must know what we will leave behind as we journey into His kingdom. What are we willing to sacrifice? What are we ready to leave behind as we press toward the mark of the high calling? Jesus is telling us that if we do not understand these things, we’ll never truly become His disciples. It’s like going on an airplane trip, and all you plan to take is an overhead bag. If all you do is pack it full, you run the risk of having to check it in as luggage, resulting in paying a fee. Thus, you’d need to check with the airline to ensure that your luggage has the correct dimensions and weight and that nothing packed is prohibited on flights. You will also need to decide what items must be left behind to ensure it doesn’t exceed the weight limit. That will ensure that you will be able to take your carry-on luggage and be able to store it successfully on your flight. In the case of Jesus’ message, it would mean finding out what we need to leave behind as we journey into the kingdom to ensure that when we get there, we won’t have to pay the price or face ridicule and failure. And this is something we do not want to face when being judged in heaven.
Finally, as we take this wisdom from God’s Word, we can apply it as we focus on what we plan for next year. Take a moment to reflect on this current year and learn from your successes and failures. Use that to help you plan for next year. The key word is, plan. Next, consider what you need for your journey and what you must leave behind. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you may need to find a gym, someone to help create a workout plan, and someone to help make a diet. You may have to leave behind that person who wants to go to the all-you-can-eat buffet. Trying to lose weight without an effective plan can lead to failure. Inasmuch, here is something that we often do when making our New Year’s plan: we choose an unrealistic goal or plan. So, is it realistic to say we will lose 180 lbs next year? We could adjust that to make it more reasonable because a healthy weight loss is 1-2 lbs per week. Losing weight too quickly can lead to muscle loss, gallstones, nutritional deficiencies, and a drop in metabolism.
Please take a moment to study the SMART Goals system because it will help you understand that our goals should be specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, and timed. Combining the wisdom Jesus shared when discussing discipleship with the SMART Goals system can enhance our chances of reflecting at the end of next year and celebrating that we accomplished our goal. So, let’s end this year with a bang by having a sound vision for next year! Let’s use wisdom and SMART goals to plan it. Then, let’s execute it and press towards the mark until we reach our goals. Let us be better disciples next year and ensure we experience vision to victory with every journey we take.
Penned from the heart of your brother,