If you haven’t yet made your New Year’s resolutions, today’s the day! It’s easy to focus on things like weight loss and nail biting – but have you thought about spiritual goals for you and your family?
Here are 5 big resolutions to consider!
1. Make this the year you actually start loving and reading the Bible regularly.
There is one New Year’s resolution that will likely impact the spiritual life of you AND your children more than any other – and that’s based on cold, hard data. The Center for Bible Engagement surveyed 40,000 Americans on their various spiritual activities and found that reading the Bible 4+ days per week is the number one driver of spiritual change. If you don’t believe that reading the Bible multiple times per week is highly important for your spiritual life, please take a moment to read my summary of the research.
As a side note, if you’re someone who struggles to actually enjoy reading the Bible despite knowing you “should,” my next post this week is for you. Stay tuned…
2. Make more spiritual space in your family.
If you don’t have a daily time scheduled for your family’s spiritual development (e.g., prayer outside of meal times, Bible study and conversations about faith), it’s time to start. I call this dedicated time “spiritual space.” We schedule everything else that’s important to us (piano classes, sports programs, meetings, etc.) – why wouldn’t we schedule daily spiritual time for the family? (For ideas on getting started, check out two posts I’ve written on what our family does: How We Worship Daily as a Family and 8 Tips for Developing an Impactful Family Worship Time.)
If you think you’re working faith conversations into your family life without the need for a scheduled time, you might be interested in a couple of statistics. First, the average American family engages in less than 15 minutes of direct parent-child conversation each day. That’s hardly enough time to have casual conversation about the day, much less engage in deeper conversations about faith! Second, a study of 11,000 teenagers from 561 congregations found that only 12 percent of youth have a regular dialogue with their mom on faith or life issues…and just 5 percent have regular faith conversations with their dads. For the vast majority of families, faith conversations aren’t casually getting worked into the day. It has to be intentional. Make it a priority in 2014. (When I start my series on 65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer next week, you’ll have a lot you can choose to talk about!)
3. Take ownership of your spiritual doubts.
I suppose there are some Christians in the world who never, ever have a doubt about their faith. I just haven’t met one. Perhaps it sounds funny given the nature of my blog, but I have struggled mightily with faith doubts myself. If you are going through one of those times right now, let me tell you something I have found to be really important in my own spiritual journey: you need to take ownership of your doubts. The temptation and default is to wallow in what you perceive as unresolvable and monumental spiritual tensions. In fact, it can get so comfortable in that perpetual state of “I’m having trouble believing because (fill in the blank),” we would rather stay there than actually challenge ourselves to proactively search for answers. If you’re struggling, decide to take ownership of your doubts this year, rather than let your doubts take ownership of you. Commit to 1) identifying your biggest questions and 2) systematically studying the answers offered by any number of thoughtful theologians. (And go read this: Doubting Your Faith? So What?)
4. Identify and get out of your prayer ruts.
It happens to us all. “Dear Lord, Thank you for this day. Thank you for…(list of other thank yous). Please forgive me for my sins. Please, please (fill in the blank top of mind recurring prayer request). Amen.” Are you feeling uninspired by your prayer life? Only praying when something goes wrong? Not praying at all? When our prayer life goes dull, our entire relationship with God can go dull. Identify the problem and search for some creative solutions. (Check out my post, “5 Family Prayer Ruts and How to Get Out of Them” for some ideas.)
5. Commit to deepening the intellectual side of your faith.
John Piper, in his book, “Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God,” beautifully summarizes the relationship between loving God with your heart and mind:
“The main reason that thinking and loving are connected is that we cannot love God without knowing God; and the way we know God is by the Spirit-enabled use of our minds…If love does not come from knowing God, there is no point calling it love for God. There may be some vague attraction in our heart or some unfocused gratitude in our soul, but if they do not arise from knowing God, they are not love for God.”
Spiritual goals about prayer and Bible study are probably more obvious for most people than this one. But given the challenging secular environment our kids are facing today, this goal is extremely important for Christian parents! We can’t train our kids if we aren’t trained ourselves. I’m really excited to start my series next week on the 65 apologetics questions Christian parents need to learn to answer. I pray it will challenge you and give you exciting jumping off points for working on this New Year’s resolution.
What spiritual goals do you have for 2014? I’d love to hear!