An Unexpected Resolution for 2020
Every January brings a new year and, for many, a set of New Year’s resolutions. According to Inc. Magazine, here are the top 5 resolutions given in a recent survey – and they’re all the expected usual suspects:
- Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)
- Exercise more (65 percent)
- Lose weight (54 percent)
- Save more and spend less (32 percent)
- Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent)
These resolutions have one thing in common: they are “me” focused. They have to do with improving you, your health, and your lifestyle.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with these, we should balance resolutions like these with something a bit more unexpected … resolutions that are others-focused in order to cultivate a lifestyle of serving others.
In fact, we should not only make serving others a resolution, we should make it a lifestyle.
The primary reason we should focus on serving others is that Jesus modeled and taught this approach. He summarized in Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Paul continued this theme in Philippians, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
The bottom line is that if we are called to follow Jesus’s teachings, model, and ministry, our lifestyle should include serving God by serving others and making time to get to know them and share the gospel.
This can be challenging. With limitations on time, focus, and money, we must be intentional about making others a priority.
Here are a few suggestions on how to cultivate and grow an “others based” lifestyle:
- Make the Lord your primary focus. Our communion and commitment to God is crucial to our outreach and ministry to others. As we spend time with Him and walk with Him, the Holy Spirit provides the desire to serve others, awareness of opportunities, freedom from selfishness, and joy we find in our service.
- Recognize the battle. As you seek to expand your witness and service to others, expect opposition. Satan will oppose your efforts with distraction and other tactics, but also expect opposition from yourself. Our selfish nature is probably our number one obstacle to serving others. The Lord has given us His Spirit, His Word, and other believers to help keep us accountable and encourage us along the way. Don’t neglect these resources.
- Simplify. Cultivating a lifestyle of serving others requires time and energy. Since most of us are already maxed out in these areas, we need to consider what to take off our plates, schedules, and budgets in order to make room for new endeavors to put on our plates, including serving others in a greater way. Comb through your calendars with the Lord with the following questions:
- Does this activity help, hinder, or distract me from following Jesus and loving others?
- Am I called to do this?
- Does God approve of this or is it just “filler”?
- Will this matter in eternity?
- Take advantage of the opportunities you currently have. Whether it is at your workplace, in your neighborhood, or at the store, keep in mind that everyone you meet and interact with is a potential opportunity. As you interact with people interact with the Lord in prayer asking for direction and boldness in your conversations. One specific prayer I pray when interacting with others is, “Lord, how can I lead this person one step closer to you (for non-believers) or one step further in their walk with you (for believers)?”
- Explore additional opportunities. Evaluate the service opportunities at your church as well as other non-profits in your area. Most of them would love to give you a tour and explain their mission and volunteer needs. Prayerfully review them asking the Lord, “Where and how do you want me to serve?” My own experience is that expectant prayer and a patience search will yield opportunities that you are not only passionate about, but also make use of your gifts, talents and background.
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