By Mark Dance
What if this year you made life-changing New Years’ resolutions instead of a bunch of lame ones that you’ll eventually blow off?
Some pastors are resolution rebels who discourage others from making any resolutions by pointing out the high rate of failure. They’re probably the same grinches who grumbled at the pre-Halloween Christmas revelers.
Some resolutions and goals fail because they’re unrealistic. Others set goals that don’t quicken their pulse, and they lose interest.
- What if you only had four simple goals to focus on for 2020?
- What if those goals actually changed your life?
- What if both Moses and Jesus put those goals right above the rim for us to dunk?
A scribe asked Jesus:
Which command is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31).
This scribe already knew the answer to his question because he’d quoted that passage twice a day his entire life. So had his parents, grandparents, and relatives back to the day Moses penned the Shema 1,500 years earlier.
Today, there’s still no greater command—or resolution, goal, purpose, value, or mission—more important than loving God.
A Simple Plan
Ocean rip currents are responsible for hundreds of drownings, and more than 100,000 lifeguard rescues on world beaches every year.
They’re dangerous to swimmers because even though they’re as strong as river currents, they don’t pull you under the water or give you any resistance at all. All you have to do to drift into danger is—nothing.
2020 can be a breakthrough year for you spiritually, but it can also be another year to do absolutely nothing but drift.
If your resolve is to love God more in 2020, then I want to encourage you to write out a simple, practical plan to make that happen. Then model that for a year and teach your church how to make and reach that same resolution in 2021.
Healthy churches are led by healthy pastors and leaders who love God with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. I want to prime your pump by sharing what my Great Commandment goals are for 2020.
1. Heart Health
I will stay spiritually healthy by starting every day in prayer and Bible study.
The most important commandment in the Bible reminds me of my most important relationship. I aspire to put Jesus first by devoting myself to prayer and ministry of the Word before I allow myself to connect with others on social media, phone, email, etc. Everyone else can and should wait in line behind my first love.
2. Soul Health
I will stay emotionally healthy by connecting with my wife intentionally every day.
Jesus is my king, and Janet is my queen. My simple goal is to connect with her intentionally every day, date every week, and take her on a fun trip every quarter. Your goals need to match your stage of life, not mine.
My accountability partners and mentors also help keep a close watch over my soul each month, although they can’t meet my emotional needs as Janet can.
3. Mental Health
I will stay mentally healthy by reading one book a month.
My reading list includes classics, novels, and business journals and magazines. Last year I started listening to more books on Audible in my travels. I use a filtering system at home and at work to keep tempting media out of reach. I also limit the amount of time I listen to or watch toxic news channels.
4. Physical Health
I will stay physically healthy with two runs and two weight workouts a week.
It’s hard to love Jesus with all of my strength if I have depleted it all. Janet and I often jog together and are equally committed to eating healthy at home and on the road. Set and share fitness goals that are specific and realistic.
Healthy churches are led by healthy pastors and leaders who love God with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Without a biblical, practical plan, you’re simply walking into another year with a wish list.
MARK DANCE (@markdance) speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats—often with his wife Janet. Mark has contributed to several books and offers weekly encouragement at MarkDance.net. He’s currently serving as director of pastoral development for the Oklahoma Baptist Convention.