Ten Pastoral Resolutions
New Year’s Resolutions can be a bit hackneyed. But it’s a good discipline for Christians to think and plan prayerfully for how they believe they should grow and deepen in their faith and service. Adrian Reynolds shares his ten pastoral resolutions for 2018.
It’s not anti-grace to make plans for the future, nor to pursue sanctification with all your might.
Perhaps most famously, Jonathan Edwards committed himself to 70 resolutions which he read once a week. They range from the profound (“Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life”) to the somewhat enigmatic (“Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live”).
I’ve found that, despite the caricature of the emptiness of New Year’s resolutions, using the beginning of the year to prayerfully plan how I believe the Lord wants me to grow to be a useful exercise.
So, here are my ten resolutions for 2018. They are unlikely to be yours – but perhaps reading them might spur you on to think about your own spiritual growth and where your godly effort needs to be focused?
I’ve expressed them as Edwards might have done himself.
- 1. Resolved: to read the whole Bible through. I do this every other year rather than every year. For 2018 I’m doing it with a fresh translation (Christian Standard Bible) and alongside my wife who is doing the same.
- 2. Resolved: to refresh my PrayerMate prayer lists. I find the PrayerMate app to be an invaluable tool for praying but I always need to keep prayer fresh by renewing the list of those I pray for. Often this is about moving someone from an occasional list to a daily list or vice versa.
- 3. Resolved: to plan a holiday/short break with just my wife for company. We’ve tried to do this every year of our 27 years of marriage. It’s been good for us, sometimes a life-saver. I’m cheating by including it because the break is already booked (Prague, since you asked); nevertheless, I have included the resolution to remind me of its purpose.
- 4. Resolved: to keep pursuing personal evangelism. We have made some ground getting to know neighbours in our new area, but it is frustratingly slow. I must not give up. Moreover, I’ve got one or two other ideas to pursue to develop more personal contacts.
- 5. Resolved: to read something which will give me some cultural insight. Last year I read Generation Z: Their voices, their lives by Chloe Combi. I was put onto this book by Pete Woodcock. It’s an extraordinary revelation. I don’t know what this will be yet for 2018. Answers on a postcard…
- 6. Resolved: to study an unfamiliar book of the Bible thoroughly for my own good, not for a sermon series, Bible study or book writing exercise. I’m tempted to go with Lamentations which I previously made a start on, but for various reasons could not complete.
- 7. Resolved: to switch my phone off regularly. I’ve started doing this in the evenings (sorry if you’ve been trying to ring me). It’s a good self-discipline and makes sure I’m not feeding the social media monster.
- 8. Resolved: to read something Christian that I will probably disagree with. This is a necessary discipline to keep my mind sharp. Dick Lucas used to tell me that some of the most helpful commentaries he used were by liberals because they forced him to think carefully about what he really thought, without being spoon-fed answers.
- 9. Resolved: to take intentional steps to develop friendships. All Christians need good friends. Pastors do too, but often find it harder to cultivate and maintain meaningful friendships. They tend not to happen by accident but require deliberate investment.
- 10. Resolved: to book myself on a conference which will stretch my thinking. There are lots that will do this, but this year’s for me looks like being the THINK conference in July on complementarianism.
What would your list look like?