Making New Year Resolutions is an ancient tradition. The Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions. Eventually, Christians thought of the first day of the new year as a time to forget past mistakes and resolve to do and be better in the future. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. This article from History.com gives more details.
Make a New Year Resolution
Then how should we make New Year Resolutions? Goal setting is a healthy practice. Biblically, we need to make sure that we commit whatever we do to the Lord and let Him establish our plans (Proverbs 16:3). Likewise, many more bible verses give wisdom to planning and goal setting. Therefore, setting goals and making New Year’s resolutions are good practices as long as we keep in mind that God wants to work in and through our lives.
What should our New Year’s Resolutions Be?
God cares about every aspect of our lives. Consequently, setting goals to make more money, eat less, or exercise more is not wrong. However, we can sometimes have objectives different from what He is doing in our lives. To set biblical goals, we must align with how He works in and through us to produce the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. He wants us to partner with Him for our growth, not just spiritually but socially and academically. All three of these areas of development are essential in the fruit-bearing process. Using the same steps Little Pot uses to grow a strawberry, we can set successful goals that produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The following is from a goal-setting worksheet used with children and adults in the field of education. Use the steps to growing the fruit of the Spirit to complete SMART goals.
Each part identifies the specific actions needed to accomplish a resolution. We will be following the fruit-bearing steps in reverse. Educators know this technique as “backward planning.”
Step 1. Identify the goal and the action steps. (Bloom Knowledge)
In the center of the flower, write a new year’s resolution to be more loving, peaceful, patient, kind, etc. (See Galatians 5:22-23). We can confidently know that God can grow His fruit. Therefore, whatever characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit we choose, the sentence should read,
” I know God will grow __(love, joy, patience, self-control, etc.)__ in me by _(date)__.”
The fruit grows in seasons. Therefore, this must be a timed goal and needs an end date. Some may work to accomplish their goals in one week or three days. Others may set goals lasting a month or six weeks. It just depends on the age and specific purpose.
While God grows the fruit, we are responsible for the actions or work it requires. Next, write one to three action steps inside the pedals.
Here are some examples I wrote with children over the years.
“I know God will grow patience in me by (end-date).”
- Raise my hand before I speak.
- Let my friends be first in line.
- Patiently waiting my turn at the water fountain.
“I know God will grow kindness in me by (end-date).”
- Share the math tubs with friends.
- Say nice things to my classmates.
- Keep my hands to myself and not hit.
“I know God will grow self-control in me by (end-date).”
- Complete my morning work every day.
- Not get upset if others do not play fair at recess.”
- Not play in the restroom.
Note: Some need to focus on only one action step.
The action steps should be relevant to each child’s abilities. If the end date comes and the child still needs to complete an action step correctly, set a new goal to accomplish the specific action step in a shorter time frame. Step 5 will allow you to celebrate all fruit-bearing that takes place.
Step 2. Identify people in your life that can help you achieve your New Year resolutions. (Leaf Relationships)
In Little Pot’s fruit-bearing model, the leaves represent relationships. Everyone knows that if you share your goal with someone, you are more likely to achieve it. Therefore, select two or three people to lean on at each action step. In addition, be able to identify precisely how the chosen person can help. Set a time to ask each person if they are willing to help and participate in the goal. God sometimes uses complex relationships as our most profitable opportunities. This step is a great way to work at getting along with others. If two friends need to be kinder to each other, they may each be a leaf on the other one’s diagram. Counselors and student advocates are sometimes great accountability partners too. Here are a few more examples:
- “Samuel can help by not sitting next to me on the carpet because I like to talk to him.”
- “My mom can help me by waking me up earlier, so I will not be late each day.”
- Mrs. Jones can help by giving me the single to raise my hand if I begin to talk out of turn.”
- “Cindy can help me by reminding me to get all my supplies before we begin to work.
- “Mrs. Jones can help by giving me a quiet corner to work in alone.”
- Pastor Tim can help by praying for me every day this week.”
Remember: It is never anyone else’s fault if a goal unmet. If at the end date, the person has yet to be helpful or do what they promised, they can set a new plan and choose a new person. We sometimes must pluck leaves off of plants if they are not healthy.
New Year New Goal – Step 3. Commit to it. (Stem integrity)
The stem of Little Pot’s fruit plant represents integrity. Accomplishing goals takes integrity, and honesty is a big part of achieving goals. Some of the action steps may take a lot of work to monitor. Therefore, the participant must be honest and trustworthy. Remind them that the stem connects the different pieces of the fruit plant. Likewise, their integrity will connect all the parts of their goal. They must have strong integrity for the duration of the plan.
Step 4. Be humble, and plant scripture shows you why you need to make New Year Resolutions in the first place. (The soil and the seed)
The soil in Little Pot represents our humility. Therefore, step four is one of the most difficult to complete. It is challenging to admit why the goal is needed. However, it is an integral part of their journey. Likewise, it may be necessary to start with this step—record why improvement is needed and set the goal first.
Once they realize their need for the goal, find a Bible verse that relates to the situation. Below are some Bible verses that can connect the different characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. You may even choose to have the child recite it on the end date.
- Love: John 15:9; 1 Corinthians13; 1 John 4:19
- Joy: Psalm 71:23; John 16:22-24
- Peace: Romans 12:18, 14:9; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Philippians 4:6-7
- Patience Proverbs 14:21; 15:18; 28:11; 1 Thes. 5:14; James 5:8-9
- Kindness: Proverbs 11:16,17; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Luke 6:31; Job 6:14
- Goodness: Psalm 23:6; Ephesians 5:8-10; Galatians 6:9,10
- Faithfulness: Proverbs 3:3, Matthew 23:23; Revelation 2:10b
- Gentleness: Proverbs 15:1; Colossians 3:12, Philippians 4:5,1 Peter 3:15
- Self-control: Proverbs 25:28, Proverbs 29:11, Titus 2:11-12, 1 Peter 4:7
Step 5. Celebrate when you’ve been successful at your New Year Resolutions. (Bear Fruit)
When the end date arrives and you’ve met your New Year resolutions, praise God that He grew fruit through you. Celebrating is an excellent way to practice praising God for the good things that happen in life. Place a strawberry sticker on the chart and dance. Achieving a goal is no tiny feet. Consequently, the more we celebrate, the more eager we will be to set the next goal!
Purchase the complete Goal Diagram (including more detailed instructions, goal worksheet, and reward stickers).
More on How to Grow the Fruit of the Spirit
Want to understand more about how you can grow the fruit of the Spirit? For example, are you hoping to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, or patient? Similarly, becoming kinder and gentler and showing more self-control. These are not just character traits. They are qualities that are produced through us by the Holy Spirit. What if you could help cultivate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? I’m here to tell you. You can!
Understanding how to become fruit-bearing vessels is a God-sized calling and one of our most important things.
This model works! It works because it follows scripture, and I have seen how God has used it to produce the fruit of the Spirit through me and the teachers, parents, and students I know.
Furthermore, I will show you how spiritual, social, and academic growth will lead to fruit-bearing. Consequently, I have created a curriculum and lessons that follow this process. Above all, being a fruit-bearing vessel is what I strive to do every day. It is my greatest passion.
If you join me on this fruit-bearing journey, I promise we will see how God works in our lives and with others around us.