Are Resolutions Unbiblical? How to plan in a God-honoring way.

new year goals
Many people set goals for the new year, but sometimes we can plan God out of His leading in our lives. How can we both plan and yield to his leading? Here's some suggestions.

The New Year rings in loudly—not just with fireworks and clinking glasses of bubbly, but with the expectation of setting resolutions and summitting our goals.

But a few years ago, I realized I’m leery of declaring resolutions or assuming I can reach the top of my yearly dream list. How can we know what tomorrow brings? In some ways, resolutions are unbiblical to assume we can foresee the next 12 months and lay it all out neatly on a calendar (see James 4:13–15).

However, let’s not throw out our vision casting and planning with the leftover charcuterie. Instead, let’s follow biblical guidance in planning the next 12 months. Here are some truths to consider.

God prepared in advance the work we are to do.

Ephesians 2:8–10 might be for me what some people call a “life verse”. But packed into these few lines of Scripture, we find encouragement that we are saved by grace and not by earning our salvation (good news for a “doer” like myself), but we also see “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (v.10).

I find this verse especially comforting as I stare down the shadowed corridor of another year. I hope some certain things will happen. I plan for some goals to be met—but only God knows the work He has prepared in advance for us to do. And we can have confidence that if we seek Him and follow Him (see Proverbs 3:5–6), we won’t miss the good work that He marks ahead, months from now.

Valuable ministry happens in unplanned moments.

My favorite unplanned ministry moment this past year was with a new friend, Lauryn.

I pushed aside the legos and piled laundry on the couch to sit with a cup of coffee with my new friend and listen to her faith story.

As she shared, she said, “I don’t really know what the Bible is about, what can you tell me?”

What an opportunity!

I didn’t plan this moment. I didn’t prepare charts or talking points, I just shared the story of the Bible from the truths hidden in my heart through years of studying.

At the end of our conversation, she surrendered her life to Jesus and place her faith in His work on the cross for her salvation. I baptized her the next weekend.

Now, unplanned ministry moments like this are few and far between for me, but let’s remember: not all valuable work is planned through goals and resolutions.

In fact, one of the things I love about Jesus’ ministry is many of the miracles and profound moments of teaching occurred as he was on his way to do something else, such as the healing of the bleeding woman (Luke 8:43–48) or healing of the lepers (Luke 17:11–19).

Leave margin in your days for the leading of the Spirit in unexpected ways.

-Seana Scott

It’s good to have a plan.

Numerous places in Scripture mention the valuable habit of making plans. Here are three scriptures for us to consider in goal-setting this year:

  • Proverbs 16:3 – Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
  • Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
  • Proverbs 15:22 – Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.

In fact, God also is a planner.

The Lord of all creation had a plan for humanity (be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, subdue it and rule over all creation, Genesis 1:28). He also had a plan for salvation, promised in Genesis 3:15—that one from the line of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. And that is just the beginning of Scripture!

God’s word is God’s plan unveiled page after page.

So too, as imager-bearers of God, I think God created us as planners so we can “finish the work God gives us to do,” just as Jesus finished the work the Father gave Him to do (see John 17:4).

Yet, let’s keep God the focus of our planning and living.

Let’s be sure in our planning, that we don’t plan God’s leading out of our lives.

-Seana Scott

Grab a Healthy Rhythms Guide to help you plan for your new year.

So, how should we approach planning the new year?

There are many ways you can approach planning the new year, but I encourage you to include at least these three things:

  1. Prayer. Plan in a place of humbled intimacy with the Lord.
  2. Priorities. Make an honest assessment of what you think are your God-given priorities for this season of life.
  3. Plan openly. Set your goals. Plan you rhythms. But keep them all with open hands to the Lord, who can lead you in any unseen direction.

May you be led by the Lord in all you do this New year!

Grab a Healthy Rhythms Guide to help you plan for your new year.

Download a free e-book that includes the process I use whenever I am entering a new season:

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