Are you into New Year’s resolutions? Have you given up on resolutions because you break them so quickly?
I’m not that into New Year’s resolutions. I am into analyzing my daily rhythms of self-care and my relationship with others. Here are three relational rhythm resolutions I am committing to for 2023. I invite you to do something similar.
1. Cultivate relationships among people with whom you disagree.
Our world is so polarized. We say it all the time. Yet what do we each do about it? Often nothing, other than complain about the problem. Be a small part of the solution by cultivating a relationship with at least one other person with whom you disagree.
The disagreement could be around religion, politics, or how you’re raising your family or leading your church. The possibilities for disagreement depend on what is currently giving you the most pain. Identify the pain point. Find someone who represents that pain, and go and love them like Jesus.
This may mean you’re going to need to forgive someone who has wronged you.
This definitely means you’re going to have to listen more than you talk.
Pray to feel love for someone who is different from you…just like Jesus’ live demonstrated.
Jesus cultivated relationships among people with whom He disagreed.
Jesus didn’t always agree with the disciples…but He loved them anyway.
Jesus didn’t agree with the young rich man…but He loved him anyway.
Jesus didn’t agree with the Pharisees…but He remained close enough to them so that some would be led to repentance by the truth.
My commitment this year, on either Lead Time or American Reformation podcast, is to interview more people with whom I may disagree. It’s easy to interview, and even befriend, those who share my perspective. I’m excited to learn from those who view the Church, mission, and confession differently from me. I’m hoping to discover that our differences might become a caricature of the truth. I’m hopeful to see that we agree on far more things than those on which we disagree.
2. Put the best construction on everything.
This rhythm resolution deepens the first, but it is more personal. The human mind is exponentially more prone to think negatively—put a “doomsday” perspective on anything that could be neutral. Too many Christians believe the axiom, “If it could go wrong, it probably will.” This should not be for you.
Case in point. Our church does a remarkable job with events. Yet when we gather to debrief the respective events, we spend excessive time focusing on the negatives of the event. We start with the good stuff but quickly migrate our conversation to the “growing opportunities.” Still, everyone knows we “missed” somehow on that respective detail. I confess—I contribute to this exercise.
I don’t think this is just our church. I think it is a part of the human condition.
Luther tried to warn against this perspective in his explanation to the Eighth
Commandment: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Luther says (as I’m sure you remember from your catechism days), “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”
I really want to do this in 2023. I pray you do, too.
3. Ask Jesus for more joy.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
Jesus yearns to give you more joy. Jesus is joy. The incarnation, miracles, cross, and hope of the Resurrection prove it. Take Paul’s words to heart. Always. Rejoice always. The coming year is not going to be perfect. Expectations and goals will not be met. People will let you down. Ministry will be hard.
Jesus is with you every step of the way. Ask Him, especially in the hard times, to replace anger, fear, or worry with His joy! He wants you to receive it and live in it. When you choose joy, by the Spirit’s power, it will be infectious and spread like Holy Spirit wildfire.
I pray you’ll join me in these three resolution rhythms! Please comment if you’ve got different resolution rhythms for 2023! Let’s grow together!
Happy New Year from the Unite Leadership Collective!