Some pastors are resolution rebels who discourage others from making resolutions because of the predictably high rate of failure. Many resolutions fail because they are unrealistic or just flat uninspiring.
What if you made four life-changing Great Commandment resolutions for 2023 instead of a bunch of lame ones that you will eventually blow off?
A scribe asked Jesus, “Which command is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:28-30; Deuteronomy 6:5-6). Like you, this scribe already knew the answer to this question. He had been quoting that passage twice a day his entire life, as had his relatives back to the day Moses originally penned the Shema about 1,500 years earlier.
Healthy churches are led by healthy pastors who love Jesus with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. I want to challenge you to write out a simple, practical plan based on the Great Commandment.
1. “With all my heart”
My secret to staying spiritually healthy is really no secret at all. I start every day in prayer and Bible study. I use a chapter-a-day reading plan which walks me through the Bible in three years.
The most important commandment in the Bible reminds me of my most important relationship in life. I aspire to put Jesus first by devoting myself to prayer and ministry of the Word before I allow myself to connect with others on social media, phone, email, etc. Everyone else can and should wait in line behind my first love.
2. “With all my soul”
My soul (life) is the internal part of my life which is constantly in need of being restored, renewed, and refreshed.
Whether you prefer the term soul-care or self-care, does your interior life need a little rearranging or refreshing this year?
King David allowed God to restore his soul in green pastures and beside still waters (Psalm 23:2). Where are the “green pastures” where your soul is best restored? My soul soars on hiking trips with my wife, Janet, and on bowhunting trips with friends. Ministry is very fulfilling, but we all need a life outside of it. Is there something you love doing that you have been putting off?
3. “With all my mind”
My 2023 plan to stay mentally healthy includes reading one book a month on whatever format is most convenient to me. My mental health plan also includes a filtering system to keep tempting media out of reach, and brainless media to a minimum.
Some of you need to consider talking to a mental health professional this year. I have no regrets about doing that a dozen years ago. Would it surprise you to hear that Guidestone’s mental health claims are up 40% from just three years ago?
4. “With all my strength”
It is hard to love Jesus with all of my strength if I have depleted it all. Janet and I often jog or walk together and are equally committed to eating healthy at home and on the road. We set and share fitness goals which are specific and realistic to our stage of life.
Ocean rip currents are responsible for countless drownings and lifeguard rescues every year. They are dangerous to swimmers because even though they are as strong as river currents, they do not pull you under the water or give you any resistance at all. All you must do to drift into danger is—nothing.
2023 can be a breakthrough year for you or it can also be another year to do absolutely nothing but drift. Without a biblical, practical plan, you are simply walking into another year with a wish list.