At the beginning of the new year, we dust off our journals, find our workout clothes, and throw away the junk food in our pantry in pursuit of accomplishing a goal. While setting goals is not bad, many people quickly lose motivation or forget about their goals entirely.
What if there was a better way of thinking about and implementing New Year’s goals and resolutions? What if, instead of setting a goal because “everyone else is doing it,” we consider creating goals that equip us to share the gospel with our local and global community?
Implementing Devotional Habits into Our Lives
One of the most important goals a believer can set is daily devotional habits. Devotional habits, particularly Scripture reading and prayer, help us “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) and equip us to “make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
We are called to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), but how can we make disciples if we ourselves are not first being discipled by the Word of God?
As you pray about your devotional habits for the New Year, I encourage you to consider the following questions.
Am I reading God’s Word, or allowing others to do it for me?
Always read the Bible and do your own work of interpretation and then consult other resources. Consider using a devotional commentary and Study Bible to start. By reading God’s Word and seeking to understand it, you will not only grow personally but also your ability to share the gospel with others will be strengthened.
Am I setting realistic, achievable goals for my devotional time?
As you set New Year’s resolutions, many know the goal they are aiming for but do not plan the small steps necessary to achieve the goal. Just as no one can climb Mount Everest without extensive preparation, the same can be said about devotional habits. Start small and grow over time.
Psychologists have suggested that it takes a minimum of 21 days to develop a new habit and stick with it. For example, if you’ve never set a regular devotional routine, consider setting a goal to read the Bible and pray for 15 minutes each day for the first 30 days of the New Year. Once you reach the 30-day mark, consider increasing the amount of time to 30 minutes for another 30 days. Not only will this help you set aside time for devotions each day, but it will also help you set short-term goals with the long-term in mind.
How can I use my time in God’s Word to live missionally in my local and global community?
As you grow in “grow in grace” through daily devotions, there are many ways you can apply your knowledge by sharing the gospel in your local and global contexts.
If you are married or have children, consider choosing a book of the Bible to study with your spouse or children or a passage of Scripture to memorize together. As you have conversations around the table, think of a verse of encouragement you can share, along with how that particular verse has shaped your knowledge of God and the gospel.
If you are involved in your local church or community, there are many opportunities for sharing the gospel with others. Consider serving at your church’s food pantry, a homeless shelter, or mentoring an at-risk student from a local school. These are avenues through which your witness can open up doors for conversations about Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel.
As you read Scripture and pray, take time to specifically pray for missionaries around the globe, especially those whom you know personally or your church supports. Ask God to give you opportunities to encourage missionaries through a mission trip, financial support, or regular prayer. Additionally, ask God to cultivate in you a heart that desires to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), whether in your community or abroad.
As you enter this new year, go ahead, dust off your gym shoes and toss out the junk food. But find your Bible, too.
Living Missionally Isn’t Just for Missionaries
As you enter this new year, go ahead, dust off your gym shoes and toss out the junk food. But find your Bible, too. Sit down and prayerfully set your goals, committing to know Jesus above all else. Make it your primary objective to be discipled by the Word of God, and in so doing, always be prepared to share the gospel with those around you.
Missional living is not just for missionaries—it is for all of God’s people. If you are God’s child, make it your goal this year to know him and make him known.