We all want to find what is really important in life. As we look forward to 2017 and consider our goals and New Year’s resolutions, how many of them are built around what we want to accomplish instead of who we want to become? In which approach do we find meaning and significance?
Sanctification, Resolutions, and How Calling Shapes Who We Become
In his book The Call, Os Guinness writes of an amazing truth:
The truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.
Guinness differentiates between our primary and secondary callings. Our primary calling is to become a disciple of Christ. This is not some list of resolutions we can check off.
Primary calling is about a significant, transformational process that is happening to all Christians as the Holy Spirit shapes their characters to the likeness of Christ. Theologians call this process sanctification.
Guinness suggests that with everyone, everywhere, and in everything we should think, speak, live, and act entirely for Christ. Our primary calling “to be” should lead without fail to what we do. These two are inseparable.
Who we are drives what we do, not the other way around.
Developing Character Goals
It is through these secondary callings “to do” that we fully integrate God’s primary call into all areas of life. For followers of Christ, these secondary callings should lead us to find our unique life purpose in order to use our particular gifts and abilities to their utmost for God’s glory, in four distinct areas:
1. Our families.
2. Our churches.
3. Our communities.
4. Our vocations.
As we think through our goals for this next year, we should not leave out character goals. These goals are vital to our growth as a spouse, parent, child, friend, boss, or employee. Try asking yourself these questions:
1. What would I like to become?
2. What one thing would I like God to change in me?
3. What character quality would make me a better parent, sibling, friend, etc.?
However we answer these questions, we need to see the importance of what we are doing from a different, eternal perspective.
A Larger Perspective for Our Lives
The Apostle Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award unto me on that day.
Paul saw everything he accomplished flowing out of his relationship with Christ. This is the larger perspective we need for our lives.
Christians need to reject our culture’s insistence that the ends justify the means. We need to reject the belief that the only thing that matters is what we have accomplished. This is truly the road to ruin.
In 2017, let us, as Hebrews 12:1 exhorts, throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.