“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”—Psalm 90:12
The new year offers us a new opportunity to look forward, put the past behind, and chart the course anew. It’s a fresh start. Last year is in the books. There’s nothing we can do to change it.
The new year is a chance to examine the regrets—correct the course, and determine not to revisit them twelve months from now. It’s a chance to be intentional, to renew your commitment to high-value living. If you’re looking back on 2013 and seeing that, somewhere along the way, you drifted off course—spiritually, relationally, financially—I encourage you to consider eight life-shifting priorities in 2014:
1. Think God’s Glory over Self-Gratification
Self is a tyrannical and disappointing god. The more self has, the less self is satisfied. We were created to live for God’s glory. We exist to know Him and make Him known. Nothing is more fulfilling to the human heart than knowing God and glorifying Him in the world.
2. Think Becoming over Doing
I’m a list person. Perhaps you are too. But God has shown me that my lists don’t begin to scratch the surface. I can’t get it all done. And through all the transition of my life He has loudly said—“You focus on BEING. Let me handle the DOING!” If we will focus on “being,” then God will intervene and touch our “doing” that it might have maximum impact. Make sure that your “doing” flows from “being”—become who God wants you to become, and He will do through you what He wants done!
3. Think Stewardship over Ownership
My life is not my own. You don’t own you. This year is not yours to live. It’s yours to steward. Your life is a gift from God. It is on loan, and one day you will answer to Him for what you did with “His life.” Every day. Every breath. Every moment. Every relationship is His gift to you. You will either approach this year asking, “What do I want?” Or you will approach this year asking, “God, what do you want?”
4. Think Investing over Spending
If you spend life, you will have less of it a year from now. If you invest life, it will multiply. Spending looks at the now. Investing looks at the big picture. Spending focuses on me. Investing focuses on others. Spending is a downward cycle of depletion. Investing is an upward cycle of multiplication. Spending is exhausting and wearying. Investing is invigorating and energizing. Spending leaves me empty. Investing leaves me full. Spending is reactionary and impulsive. Investing is causative and intentional.
Investing means I wake up every day asking God to lead me, guide me, and use me for His purposes. Investing means I use my moments to serve, to edify, to build, to encourage. Investing means I can face death with no regrets.
5. Think Important over Urgent
Dwight Eisenhower said it this way, “The urgent is rarely important, and the important is rarely urgent.” The most important things in life are usually the quietest. Important things don’t usually demand your attention now. They are not urgent. But if important things are ignored, life becomes abundantly urgent. The more you give yourself to that which is important, the less you will be ruled by the urgent.
6. Think Relationships over Productivity
People over process. God loves people, not tasks. He cares about your relationships, not check-lists. Checking off lists makes you feel productive, and developing healthy relationships doesn’t. But relationships are what matter most to Jesus! His top two commands are relational—LOVE GOD, and LOVE ONE ANOTHER. More than anything else, He wants you to have healthy relationships. He wants you to be reconciled to those you’ve hurt. He wants you to forgive those who have hurt you. He wants you to love your spouse, nurture your children, fellowship with your church family, and win others to Jesus by loving them intensely. He wants His people to be the most hospitable, charitable, gracious people on the planet.
7. Think Influence over Accomplishment
At the end of life, we will all discover that we way over-valued our accomplishments and way under-valued our influence. We prize our trophies and celebrate our achievements. But so often we neglect others in the process. Far more important than your achievements in the new year, is your God-given influence. Admittedly, it will be hard to measure your influence at the end of the year. You’ll need to trust God with that. Influence is intangible. It’s spiritual and eternal. It’s the only way to make your life count forever.
8. Think Focus over Multitasking
We live in a time when multiple forms of media (even good media), devices, and real people are asking for your attention at the same time. We often say, “There is nothing more valuable than time.” I believe there is something at least as valuable as time—and that is ATTENTION. Time and focus are two different things.
One negative impact of technology and media is our collective loss of attention span. Our ability to focus—especially on relationships—has diminished. We must recapture uninterruptible moments. We must renew our attention spans—for God, for people, and for high value priorities. Anything of eternal value requires focused attention. Your attention span is under assault—so guard it carefully!
It’s one thing to read these eight values. It’s another thing to implement them. That’s going to require some serious prayer and response. It’s going to lead you into some heart-to-heart conversations with God, with your spouse, your kids, and others. It’s going to require you to make some courageous decisions of faith.
And when you do, your conscience will bear witness within you that you are aligning your life with God’s values. His Holy Spirit will affirm you. His hand will provide for you, and His wisdom will guide you.
Live this year like it will be your last. For we all know, it very well could be.