The last few days I’ve been reviewing this year and planning for the new one. I did the same thing at the end of last year. I reviewed the progress – or lack of progress – I had made, thought about where I wanted to be, and set some goals and strategies to get there. (If you want to set some goals for your spiritual growth see “5 Tips for Setting Spiritual Growth Goals for the New Year.”)
This evaluation and planning, which is primarily for my spiritual health and relationship with God, also includes things like work, relationships, professional development, and service. I met goals in some areas and fell short in other areas. That’s why I am at it again by planning for the year ahead.
Maybe this sounds a bit too analytical to you to be “spiritual.” But Scripture is full of directives for us to be purposeful in our spiritual growth and discipleship. For instance, Paul told Timothy to “train” himself for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Planning and goal setting doesn’t mean God is not in it. The planning I undergo is both prompted and directed by God. Every step is done prayerfully. Haphazard discipleship will always yield haphazard results. But purposeful discipleship, guided by God, will yield spiritual growth and deeper intimacy with God.
Before we look ahead, it’s helpful to reflect on where we’ve been. Although not an exhaustive list, the following few questions will help us evaluate our current spiritual health and the quality of our relationship with God:
- What did I learn about God?
- In what ways did my faith grow?
- How did I purposefully cultivate my relationship with God?
- Was I disciplined in Bible study?
- Was I vitally connected to my local church?
- In what ways did I serve and minister to others?
- Do I have relationships that are strained or need to be repaired?
I Fell Short of this year’s Goal
One of the things I “recommitted” to for this year was SCRIPTURE MEMORY. I’ve always known it was important for my spiritual health, but I’d always been very sporadic with the discipline because it takes time, purposeful effort, and determination. (Why bother with memorizing Scripture when we have such easy access to God’s Word? See “Why I Tackle Scripture Memory & How I Do It.”)
Then in January, God prompted me to memorize part of Philippians 4 to prepare for a conference where I would be teaching from that chapter. I worked hard and memorized Philippians 4:4-13 by the end of January. I was so blessed by having those truths solidified in my mind and deep in my heart, I committed to memorize the rest of Philippians by the end of the year.
I did not reach the goal I set, but I did make great progress! In addition to the verses from chapter 4, I memorized all of chapters 1 and 2. Granted, it was an ambitious goal for someone whose Scripture memory discipline has always been hit or miss. There were times throughout the year where I kept moving forward and times when my efforts stagnated. But, God was faithful to prompt me again.
Even though I fell short of the goal, I was so encouraged by how much I memorized. God ministered to me in new ways through knowing His word by heart. And the truths of Philippians have come alive to me like never before. I plan to finish memorizing Philippians in the new year and hopefully start on another book.
Planning for the New Year
I use a couple of simple, but helpful tools each year to purposefully evaluate my discipleship and plan for the new year. First, I use the “Discipleship Evaluation” form to contemplate the quality and commitment of my relationship with and service to God. Second, I use the “Spiritual Goals Worksheet” to set goals and strategies in a wide range of areas. Looking back at my goal planning worksheet, I realize I met some goals and fell short of others. The missed goals give me a good starting place for the new year.
What about you? Are you doing any planning for the new year? I’d love to hear about how God is directing you to purposeful spiritual growth and service in the new year. As you contemplate this year, you may find the following posts and tools helpful:
- 5 Tips for Setting Spiritual Growth Goals for the New Year
- My 2021 Bible Reading Plan
- Reading the Bible Together Facebook Group
- Online Bible Study Tools
- 7 Tips to Start – or Restart – a Quiet Time with God
- Bible Reading Plans – Why, How, and a few good ones
Find even more tools and resources on my Free Resources page.