Perhaps in the waning days of 2012 we might give a little thought to how we will focus our time, energy and resources in the new year. Whether you will look back on this past year with fondness or regret, the new year does present a nice but arbitrary marker for a new beginning. The truth is, we can make a “new beginning” any day of any year. But since we have a fondness of aligning ourselves with the calendar, it will serve the purpose.
I gather that the idea of “resolutions” is fading in popularity as so many pledged self-improvement declarations get derailed rather quickly. I want to suggest a different approach based on a subtle shift in our thinking. Given some serious thought, I believe it can make a profound difference.
The inspiration for the thought came from the gospel of Mark, the tenth chapter.
“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’” — Mark 10:17 (NKJV).
If you read the passage, this “one” had already done a list of good things, yet, there was still something obviously missing. There was still some unsatisfied longing for completeness that prompted this question. This person had done a lot of good, yet was unfulfilled.
The pivotal word in the verse to me, is the word, “do.” We are hard wired to the idea that if we do enough, we will find fulfillment. It is a deception that is hard to catch. How many people do you find so busy “doing”, but still feel empty and unfulfilled inside? Fulfillment doesn’t come in so much “doing” per se.
Fulfillment is found in “being.” Read the passage and insert the words “shall be” in the place of “do.” It’s a much better question.
It’s a subtle shift in thinking, but profound in practice. In the new year, instead of waiting to check off the “to do list”, put more emphasis on who you want to be. It might sound something like, “I want to be a person of faith,” or, “I want to be a person of discipline.” Check out Jesus’ response to this person, it isn’t a list of more things to do, it was a new way of life, being a person who was less worldly minded and more about being who they really wanted to be.
Unfortunately the questioning person couldn’t make the shift. It was a fail. It’s not easy getting away from measuring our worth by our lists of things we do, but that is not where we will find lasting fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing we should all stop doing things, stuff still has to get done! But finding lasting fulfillment comes from “doing because I am”, rather than from “I am because I am doing.”
Jesus helps us in this process. He helps us “be” what He alone knows we can be. The doing will take care of itself as we seek our fulfillment in following His lead.
Rev. Stephen S. Brown serves as Pastor at the Kenai New Life Assembly of God.