New year’s resolutions are seldom sustainable because they are generally about ourselves and our own happiness. We should know by now that we are all terribly conflicted about personal happiness. While a small waistline and a more sculpted body might make you happy, so does cheesecake and sitting on the couch. When your setting yourself as the center of change the odds are stacked against you having the sustainable motivation to eat less, pray more, work out, or memorize scripture.
The Apostle Paul and an unlikely ally, Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, figured out what creates sustainable success in attaining lofty goals. Have you noticed how whenever a microphone gets stuck in the face of a New England Patriot, they all sound the same in one respect and that is they all talk about the team and not themselves. When a famous Hall of Fame wide receiver began to let it be known that he was unhappy he wasn’t getting the ball often enough, he was gone from here within days.
The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive. “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Scroll down the page to 1 Corinthians 11:1 and you will read him saying, “follow me as I follow the example of Christ.” The obsession of Paul’s life and the obsession of the New Testament church is “the good of others,” and reproducing the beauty of Christ likeness in others.
If you and I will get focused on what we are making happen in others we will never lack the resolve to be the better people that we know we need to be. Personal happiness and satisfaction will come but they will be products of the team win, not personal advancement. Self absorption and a lack of clarity about the improvement of those around us are the twin cancers that are robbing us of the energy to get out of our chair and be all that we can be. Feel the pathos of Paul through the colorful filter of Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible. “Do you know how I feel right now and will feel until Christ’s life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth. Oh, I keep wishing that I was with you. Then I wouldn’t be reduced to this blunt, letter-writing language out of sheer frustration.” Galatians 4:19-20
The great Apostle never expressed personal goals apart from the blessing and improvement he strained to see in others. Coincidentally, I have never heard Coach Belichick and his players talk about personal goals apart from the success of the team. I am not going out on a limb to say that I am convinced the impartations of affirmation, blessing, righteousness, and Godliness into others is a Biblical obsession from the Gospels to the book of Revelation.
So before you make a new year’s resolution, look around you and join a New Testament relational revolution. Simply decide, it’s not going to be about me this year. If you go to the gym and change your diet (2 things I highly recommend) it’s not so you can be happy or look better it’s so you will have more energy for the people that matter in your life. Think about what would cause your family, your friends, and the members of your church to be more affirmed, blessed, righteous, and Godly and throw yourself into those activities.
I said this yesterday in my sermon on A Reproducible Life, “Every human being that God connected with me needs to know that my work, my resting, my favorite beverage, my favorite way of relaxing, my favorite food, my preferred schedule, my preferred music, my preferred entertainment, my preferred conversation, my preferred level of privacy is less important than them.” If the team doesn’t win, I lose, period, end of story.
P.S. Here’s the link to Last Sunday’s sermon, to be posted later in the week. http://www.bccma.org/sermons/