A new year. A new goal. Ever wonder why we all love to set new goals in the new year?
What’s new year resolution?
New Year’s resolution history is fascinating. As with most of our modern-day traditions, we can trace them back to pagan worship. It was the Babylonians who are believed to be the first people to make New Year’s resolutions. History.com has a fascinating article all about it.
Are New Year’s resolutions biblical then? After all, goal setting is a healthy practice we should all take part in. Biblically, we need to make sure that we commit whatever we do to the Lord and let Him establish our plans (Proverbs 16:3). There are many more bible verses that give wisdom to planning and goal setting also. Therefore, I do not think that setting goals or even New Year’s resolutions are wrong, as long as we keep in mind that God wants to work in and through our lives. He wants us to partner with Him for our own growth, not just spiritually, but socially, and academically. All three of these areas of growth are important in the fruit-bearing process. Using these steps, we can then set successful and fruitful goals.
We will be following the 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, have the students write a goal to be more fruitful. We can confidently know that God is able to grow HIs fruit. Therefore, whatever characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit they 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 students may work to accomplish their goal in one week or for three days. Others may set goals lasting a month or six weeks. It just depends on the child’s age and specific goal.
While God grows the fruit, however, they are responsible for the actions or work it requires. Next, they need to write one to three action steps inside the pedals. Here are some examples of ones that 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 wait 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 students may 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 has not completed an action step correctly, set a new goal with that specific action step being accomplished 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 this goal. (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, have the child select two or three people they can lean on as they complete each action step. They should be able to identify exactly how the person they have chosen can help them. Set a time for them to ask each person if they are willing to help and take part in their goal. God sometimes using difficult relationships as our most fruitful opportunities. This step is a great way for classmates to work at getting along too. If two friends need to work at being 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 at 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 our of turn.”
- “Cindy can help me by reminding me to get all my supplies before we begin to work.
- “Mrs. Jones can help me by giving me quiet corner to work in by myself.”
- Pastor Tim can help by praying for me every day this week.”
Note: Remind students that it is never anyone else’s fault if they do not meet the goal. If at the end date, the person has not been helpful or done what they promised, they can set a new goal 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. Integrity is required in any goal and being honest with themselves and others is a big part of achieving goals. Some of the action steps may be hard to monitor. Therefore, students must be honest and trustworthy. Remind them that the stem is what connects the different pieces of the fruit plant. Likewise, their integrity is what will connect all the parts of their goal. It is important that they have strong integrity for the duration of the goal.
Step 4. Be humble and plant scripture. (The soil and the seed)
The humus or good soil in Little Pot represents our humility. This is one of the most difficult steps for a child to complete. It is difficult for children to admit why they need to set a goal. However, it is an important part in their journey. In some cases, it may be necessary to start with this step. Lovingly help them to see the area they need improvement in and record why they need ot set the goal in the first place.
Once they have realized their own need for the goal, find a Bible verse that relates to the situation. Below are some verses that can connect the different charateristics of the fruit of the Spirit. You may even choose to have the child recite the verse for memory 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 the result. (Bear Fruit)
When the end date arrives and the child has accomplished the goal, celebrate how God grew the fruit through and in them. This is a great way for children to practice giving God the praise for the good things that happen in their life. For example, in my prinicpal’s office. I would reward the student with a strawberry sticker and we’d turn on music and dance. Recognition can also be given out at school assemblies, chapel, or class worship times. Achieving a goal is no small feet. Consequently, the more we celebrate with children, the more eager they will be to set their next goal!
You can purchase the full Goal Diagram that includes more detailed instructions, a goal worksheet for students, and reward stickers here.
More on How to Grow the Fruit of the Spirit
Want to understand more about how you can help your children grow the fruit of the Spirit? For example, are you hoping their goals are more loving, joyful, peaceful or patient? Similarly, they become kinder, gentler, and show more self-control. These are not just character traits. They are qualities that are produced through us by the Holy spirit. But, what if you could help cultivate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in your child? I’m here to tell you, You can!
Helping children understand how to become fruit-bearing vessels is a God-sized calling and it is one of the most important things we can do as parents and educators.
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 have worked with.
Furthermore, I will show you how spiritual, social, and academic growth will lead to fruit-bearing. We will provide you with a curriculum and lessons that specifically follow this process. Above all, being a fruit-bearing vessel is what I strive to do every day. It is the thing I’m most passionate about.
If you join me on this fruit-bearing journey, I promise that together we will see how God is at work in the lives of your children.