As the new year begins, many individuals (myself included) will begin creating goals for 2022. January is actually a great blessing because it brings an evaluation of the past year, confession of what we could have done better, and development of new habits that can bring success in the new year.
Sadly most of those goals are completely abandoned by mid-January
Not because we don’t want to accomplish them….
But because we try to accomplish too much at one time, or aren’t patient enough
Drew Dyck in his excellent book “Your Future Self Will Thank You” has a quote this defines this problem very well.
While we may be tested in dramatic moments, the fabric of life is stitched slowly, through a thousand tiny choices that end up defining our lives.
Dyck shows that we often look or a massive change that will transform our lives almost overnight. The truth is one decision cannot really do that. Instead change comes through many small decisions done over a long period of time.
This philosophy is backed up by James Clear, who wrote the equally excellent book “Atomic Habits.” One of his major points is small habits done repetitively can make a dramatic change.
But there is a drawback….
You have to wait years.
In the first chapter of his book, James Clear describes how healthy habits developed his freshman year of college had their greatest impact three years later as a senior. A difference can be seen before that time, but the true transformation only comes after repeating healthy habits over a long period of time.
The real question is whether we want “spectacular change” (something that everyone can see) or “consistent change” a habit we continue for the rest of your life. Though the slow change isn’t as glamorous, this is the only true change.
Anybody can work out five days a week in January when the gym is crowded……
few do it in the winter when it’s almost empty.
This principle applies to ministry as well. I recently started a book that emphasises “patience” as one of the most important attributes of a Pastor in ministry. Often we are tempted in ministry to begin changing things right away, but those dramatic changes rarely last. It’s those ministers who consistently bring small changes in over twenty, thirty, or even forty years that make a true impact.
The application is to embrace true change in life.
The goal isn’t to be doing something different tomorrow.
The goal is to be doing something different five-years from now.