The new year has come and gone. I bet now you won’t even hear a stranger wish you a “Happy New Year” at the grocery check out line. Maybe now you think you’ve missed your window to try something new or make a major adjustment in your life because you’ve missed the new year’s resolution phase.
Well, Pastor Derrick Kelsey reminds us it’s never too late to begin a change. In his sermon, Derrick teaches us that with obedience to God we can set a goal, plan for that goal and achieve it. Most importantly it’s never too late to look to God to work our plan.
What follows are the first several paragraphs of his sermon transcribed for you. When you want to hear more simply play the full audio recording of this meaning insight into how to please God…
So, I have had a curious relationship with new years over my life and I was reminded of how I used to be when my son, last night at 12 o’clock, ran upstairs, turned the light on in my room and said, “Happy New Year!“
Now, I told the boy, “it’s about 10 o’clock, so you can stay up, to see the New Year. I’m feeling a bit under the weather and I‘ve got to preach tomorrow.” So I told myself, “I’m going to lay it down now and get a little rest. So we did our “Happy New Year” hugs and shakes and everything, and so I thought we were cool. So here I am, I’m kind of finally dosing off and getting to my happy place and then all of the sudden the light comes on and he’s like “Happy New Year!” He’s so exited and I can’t get mad with him, because when I was around that age, I was really hype about being up for the new year and all of that. So I was like, “OK, don’t fuss at him, don’t cuss him, he’s just exited”. So, “Yes, happy New Year, please turn the light off”, and then I got a chance to play my favorite game of fireworks to gunshots, as everyone was celebrating the new year in that all contextual way.
And so when I was younger, I got caught at not just staying up to midnight but also the idea of a New Year’s resolution. And that just got to the whole gamut of new year’s things and going to my uncle’s house for this big new year’s dinner and I just embraced all of it. And then I got older and hit my twenties and that’s when my “snark” kicked in and my “anti” kicked in. And so I started thinking, I’m like “What’s the big deal with new year’s resolutions?” I mean, if there’s something that you need to do, why are you going to wait to the beginning of the year to start it? Why not start it on August the 4th? Or February the 2nd? What’s so special about January the 1st? And again, being twenty and snarky and knowing it all, but not really knowing much, I just had a bad idea – now we’re trying to kind of clown people, and yeah it just makes no sense. If you want to do something, just do it. Don’t wait to that special date; don’t wait till Monday to start the week. If you need to start something, do it immediately. But then I got older and then my pendulum swung a little bit more to our central location. And I realized that most of us require some sort of external motivation to make some kind of change in our life. Often times we need something, often times it’s dramatic or tragic. So let’s say you get sick, your doctor tells you that you’re on the way of having type 2 Diabetes. And that’s the thing that motivates you to go ahead and cut the collard greens with the ham hocks out of your diet. Or there’s something that happens, in terms of you seeing something going on with marriage, your wife or husband tells “I’m not happy, I’m about the leave.” And that’s when you’re just “OK, I need to work on myself”. Or you see your kids acting out in a certain way or they respond to you in a certain way and that’s when you’re like: “Ok, I need to get up on my parenting, I need to change and grow in this area.” And often times we need these external factors in order to say: ”I’m ready to make a change in my life.”
And so, thinking about a new year’s resolution, it provides that external motivation without some of the trauma or drama that goes along with some of these other events, that motivates us to change. And so now that I’m getting older, I’m thinking: It’s OK for somebody to say “Today, or the beginning of this new year, or the beginning of this new season, I need to think about what ways I can improve myself.” And then I had to look back and clown my younger self and say, “Why was I ever anti somebody saying: I want to better myself”? It doesn’t matter whether you decide to wait to the 1st of the month, or you decide to wait to your 40th birthday, or you decide to wait to New Year’s day 2017. If you’re making a decision and saying, “There are some things that I want to improve in my life”, that’s a good thing. We should be encouraging that, not discouraging people from deciding to make those changes and pursuing those things of success. And so I kind of landed in this position of, “It’s really OK” and now I actually want to encourage those of you who have decided that in this new year: #newyearnewme, then I’m going to encourage you: Yes! Pursue those things! Don’t run from that! That’s actually a good thing!
If it takes a new year for you to decide, that “I want to pursue some things towards a successful or a prosperous life”, then by all means do it! And if you’re one of those hard-core people who can just wake up on a Tuesday and say “Today is the day I want to make that change!” that’s cool too.
But the thing that I got realized is that regardless to what camp you sit in, whether you’re one of these people who needs the first of the month, the 1st of the year to do it or you can do it on your own, attempting to achieve success and prosperity is difficult. There are often many, many things that serve as impediments or potholes in the way that on the path to achieving success. What are your potholes? What are your impediments? What are the things that stand in the way of you achieving success? I thought of a list of a couple of things and maybe you fit into one or more of these buckets. I know that I do and I have over the course of my life.
One of the reasons why it’s hard for us to obtain success or prosperity is that we don’t have a tangible enough definition of what success is. You know, we say “I want to be successful, I want to be prosperous!” But we really don’t know what that looks like. And when it ends up being is more of us saying, “I just want something different than what I’m currently in.” But if you haven’t defined, or you don’t know what success looks like, how will you ever know once you’ve gotten there? How would you ever know how to chart a course to get there if it’s just some nebulous idea of success? Sure, it’s a great thing to want success, but if you don’t know what it looks like, then how do you know how to put yourself on the pathway to get there?
Another pothole that you may find yourself in is that you have success defined, but you don’t have a plan for how to get there. There was a French writer in the early twentieth century who said it like this, “a goal without a plan is a wish.” Has anybody ever eaten a wish sandwich before? Well, you have two pieces of bread, and you wish you had some meat in it? It’s not very substantial. It’s not going to fill you up. So if you want to reach a goal, if you want to be successful at something and you don’t have a plan, than you really are just spinning your wheels and wasting your time, because you will never reach it or never get there.
Another impediment, or another pothole that you may find is that you may not have a realistic goal of success… (listen to full version)