Debbie Salter Goodwin
Growing into a New Year
How can we make 2022 a year of spiritual growth. Nothing helps our world, our family, our communities more than become a growing follower of Christ. However, spiritual growth won’t happen automatically. We must be open to it and plan for it.
While there are lots of strategies to help you make a growth plan for the New Year, here’s the one I try to use.
1. Start with last year’s lessons.
Select 3 of your most important lessons from last year. Usually those are the ones you need to take deeper. If you try to address too many, it overwhelms. Better to start small and add more rather than start big and give up.
These lessons act as "arrows" as I learned a key lesson from Emily Freeman, author of The Next Right Thing. Last year’s lessons become the arrows that point me to how I could deepen growth for the New Year.
2. Ask God to help you write 1 action step for each lesson.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or all new. The action step could be a way to continue your growth in a specific area of your life. It’s not an I-hope-I-can-grow goal. It'a realistic and forward moving.
For example, one of my lessons from last year had to do with out I let my expectations drive my spiritual goals. When I struggled to achieve the goal, I made the startling realization that I had started with MY expectation, rather than God's. So my action step for this lessonl is to take my expectation to God before I emotionally or strategically incorporate them into my goal.
3. Regularly review your action steps.
This year I want to review my actions steps on the first day of my week. Sometimes that will be Sunday. Other times it will be Monday morning before I begin my writing morning. Maybe I’m just more forgetful than you, but a weekly reminder of how I want to make use of last year’s lessons is the only way I can stay open to God about them. This gives Him permission to nudge me when I am acting on my unguarded actions and thoughts.
4. Be willing to edit actions steps that don’t work.
Sometimes the very process that I think will lead me to growth simply frustrates and doesn’t help. Recognizing when something isn’t working is a growth step by itself. Pat yourself on the back for recognizing it. One year when I tried to address a new devotional rhythm, I had to re-write my action step a couple of times before I found what worked. That’s a normal picture of the growth process. Embrace it!
Do you have to write all of this down? No. There’s no rule about it. However, new learning requires integrating more than one sense. If you think it, write it, see it and say it, you will more likely remember it. Besides, it opens a way for the Holy Spirit, our Truth guide, to remind you.
Need a good prayer to start? Nothing directs us better than scripture. The following are two of my favorites. Just pray them until God makes them specific. Remember, our spiritual growth is God’s specialty. Listen to Him