Sick Of FAILING At Your New Year’s Resolutions? Try REDEFINING SUCCESS

Hello All,

I hope you had a meaningful and joyful Christmas and 2024 started well for you and your family.
My mum and our family are progressing well in adjusting to Dad’s absence. We appreciate many messages of condolence and your prayers. Dad’s Thanksgiving service was well attended as we expressed our gratitude to God and celebrated his long life.

Enjoying God’s creation during my retreat

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? How are you going with them?

We were committed. We were determined. We started strong.

A month into 2024, many might be disappointed with their lack of progress.  If you haven’t made significant progress, you are in good company. Research in the USA discovered that 80% of adults gave up their resolutions by February.

Possibly, our resolutions were not SMART Goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

For followers of Jesus, we need to ask additional questions:

  • Would Jesus approve my resolutions?
  • Are my resolutions for my ‘good’?

Our resolutions often revolve around our happiness, self-improvement and a better lifestyle.  The apostle Paul defined our ‘good’ as being like Jesus. (Romans 8: 28, 29).

Sick of FAILING at Your New Year’s Resolutions?

Perhaps it is time to REDEFINE SUCCESS.

Try this: A, B, C.

A. Admit you have harmful definitions of success

This is challenging because we all have blind spots. Recently, I discovered one of mine.

Six months ago, I injured my back, resulting in a disc prolapse or sciatica. I expected a speedy recovery. Friends and I prayed accordingly. Despite medical and physiotherapist treatment, including exercises, the healing was slow.

Through the ordeal, I discovered a blind spot. My definition of success includes being above or quicker than average. As a child of God, if I have faith, pray, and obey, I should heal quicker than the average person.

One of my resolutions was to be above average and get better quickly, and I failed.

Where did I get the idea that I should be better, faster, smarter, and more ‘blessed’ than the average person?

I think this idea is closer to middle-class values than the teachings of Jesus. To always be on the upward and better trend – earn more money, buy more, experience better, achieve the best, or be more … (you can add yours).

Such middle-class values might influence our definitions of success more than the real Jesus of the Bible. But, often, we are unaware.

Yes, Jesus can heal immediately. Sometimes, He does. Often, at least in my life, Jesus opts for the slower, more profound, and more painful.

Quick-fix resolutions can sabotage redefining success according to Jesus and our well-being.

When I was a doctor, a considerable number of patients pressured me for pain relief without knowing the diagnosis. They were after a quick fix. What if the pain was a symptom of something sinister like early cancer or torn ligaments? Psychological pain is similar in that a quick fix is often not the answer. It is better to face and understand the source of the pain. What if the road to recovery initially involves more pain?

B. Be Responsive to Jesus

The Apostle Paul pleaded for a quick fix, for Jesus to remove his ‘thorn in the flesh’. 

An excerpt from Redefining Success According to Jesus, page 147:

“While Paul did not reveal the nature of his ‘thorn in the flesh’, we can guess it was intense! Paul was no wimp. He had been flogged, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned. The ‘thorn’ most likely caused considerable pain and anguish—spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. It might have been embarrassing, shameful or debilitating. It probably hindered his work for the Kingdom. Three times, he pleaded with Jesus to remove the tormenting thorn, but Jesus refused!
How would we respond if we were Paul and Jesus did not remove our torturing thorn?
If He declined our prayers to remedy our suffering, would we become disillusioned, bitter or rebellious? We might be tempted to cajole, persuade or manipulate God. Some of today’s Christians might have exhorted Paul to use a different prayer formula or have more faith — or go to a celebrity preacher. Others might throw away their faith altogether.”

Djoeandy, O. (2021). Redefining success according to Jesus. Ark House Press.

Jesus’ ”No” to Paul was accompanied by a resounding and loving YES, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” The apostle Paul accepted the “No” and understood and experienced the paradox, “When I am weak, then I am strong”.

We can, too, if we surrender and trust.

Eventually, I accepted that Jesus did not heal quickly because he wanted to do spiritual surgery on my harmful definition of success.

I’m seeking to be responsive to Jesus. To be confident of God’s love for me despite the slow healing. To be okay with being below average. To accept my limitations and slow down. To empathise with people who have chronic pain. To exercise and persevere for long-term physical benefits.

2024 can be a significant year for us.

Not necessarily in terms of resolutions for self-improvement and getting more stuff. But in knowing and experiencing more of the real Jesus of the Bible.
We cannot do this on our own. No matter how dedicated and disciplined we are, we will fizzle unless we function in a community.

C. Community

Share your resolutions with others and invite them to share theirs. Listen and give each other feedback. You both might notice a harmful definition of success that might be a blind spot in each other. We need mutual support and accountability with other followers of Jesus.

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