The ‘Finisher’ may help you try something new this year.
Story: Zach Zehnder
Revelation 21:5: He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
A new year offers the hope of change, the opportunity to reshape and the chance to reform our habits. People make New Year’s resolutions in an attempt to create new routines and patterns in their lives. The problem is many people’s resolutions look like this:
Stop eating junk food.
Drink less alcohol.
We all know the things we want to stop doing, but we must use tremendous effort and willpower in attempting to stop our bad habits. Unfortunately, research finds this doesn’t work in the long run. So instead, let’s try something new. But what will we do this year?
I want to give you four important steps to doing something new in your life:
1. Replace something old with something new.
Sometimes the best place to look to do something new is to first identify what you should stop or quit. Recognize the cue that triggers the craving, and instead of putting your old habit in there, establish a new routine that will end with a similar reward or sense of satisfaction. If you don’t like a certain part of how you are living, perhaps it’s best to set a new habit to replace that bad habit.
To be honest, most of us probably do have something we should stop or quit this year. I see way too many people that quit doing something for a while, but if it’s not replaced with something else, they’ll just go right back to it. People do this with their sin they are trying to overcome. They fight it for a season, but if it’s not replaced, they’ll just go right back to it.
Some even pray to God and ask, “God, take away this passion for pornography, alcohol, shopping.” God doesn’t want to take away your passion! He wants to move the passion that is being used for habits against His will and use that very same passion to start habits that will grow His Kingdom!
So rather than settling on stopping or quitting as your goal, what if you added or changed one bad habit, and in place of that, you started a good habit this year? What would you add or change? What would this look like?
2. Start with the “who” in mind rather than the “what.”
Who do you want to be? So many people start with “do” or “don’t” goals or resolutions, but what’s most important is to look at who you want to be, because that will inform what you “do” or “don’t” do. Based on who you want to become, what habit do you need to incorporate into your life?
This year you might decide:
I want to appreciate people more. So, you might decide to write a handwritten note each week to someone in your life.
I want to be a better spouse this year. So, you might decide to have a weekly date with your spouse.
I want to be healthier this year. So, you might decide to work out three times a week for 20 minutes a day.
3. Do something small and do it very well.
These small disciplines, or habits, may grow over time. This year, you might write one handwritten note a week, but in five years, you might do one each day. You might work out three times a week this year, but in a few years, you might work out every single day.
It’s not enough for us to just stop our unhealthy habits. To truly see change in our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we must integrate new practices and get into a new routine, which leads me to my last point.
4. Invite God and others into your new thing.
If you keep your goal or habit to yourself, you have much less of a chance of finishing it. When you include others in your goal, you have a much better chance to succeed. I’ve had lots of ideas and new things I’ve started in life. The ones that work out best are the ones where I bring others into it with me.
But just inviting other people into it isn’t enough. Invite God into it. He is the master of creating all things new. Many of us struggle to finish what we start. If we have a problem finishing, then why not bring the “Finisher” onto your team. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He starts things and he finishes things. Even when it looked like He was finished, He rose from the dead! God has the resurrecting, finishing power that you need. And the greatest news is, you can have it for free. Just ask God into your life.
Rather than just trying to stop old habits, do something new this year!
“But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.” – Romans 7:6 ESV
About the writer → Zach Zehnder is lead pastor at theCross Church in Mount Dora. He completed undergraduate work at Concordia University Wisconsin and earned his master’s of divinity from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. In 2017, Zach wrote “Red Letter Challenge,” a 40-day challenge to put Christ’s words into practice. Visit redletterchallenge.com.