By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships If you’re like the majority of people, chances are, since we’re already days into January, you’re teetering on failure.
I know. I know. That’s probably not what you wanted to hear so early in 2016. My high school English teacher, Mrs. Hogue, would have killed me for writing an introduction like that. You see, she strongly believed that introductory sentences should make people want to continue reading rather than make them want to light the paper on fire with a blowtorch for being confirmed a failure!
But, take a couple minutes to hear me out. We’re only days into our New Year’s resolutions, and there’s a chance - albeit small - that we’re still going to the gym, eating healthy, and/or smoking less.
Realistically, though, you’re more than likely one failure in a stadium full of failures. A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol found that 88% of those who set New Year’s resolutions - wait for it. Wait for it - fail. Reasons varied: 35% said their goals were too unrealistic; 33% said they forgot to track their progress; 23% said they forgot they even set a resolution (these are my people); the remaining 9% said they made way too many resolutions.
So, why set them? And who came up with this horrific idea?
Well, according to the great philosopher Wikipedia, this addiction to New Year failure arguably started with the ancient Babylonians, who were accustomed to promising their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed items and pay off their outstanding debts. Needless to say, wars broke out and villages were burned because borrowed items weren’t returned and debts didn’t get paid. Later, the Romans carried on this repulsive tradition by making promises to the god Janus, from whose name we get “January”. Not to be outdone, the medieval knights threw their swords into the game by taking the Peacock Vow (no, seriously) at the end of the Christmas season to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. Jews, Christians, and other religions joined in as their way of recommitting their quest for self-improvement.
In most recent years, 40% of Americans admit to setting New Year’s resolutions. Meanwhile, 60% of Americans are shameful liars with resolutions tucked neatly in their closet to avoid having others judge their failures (bless them). I say “most recent years” because during that time called the Great Depression, the percentage of resolutioners plopped to roughly 25% because no one really cared about life anymore.
It’s no secret that resolutions vary. According to thetoptens.com, the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions of 2015 were…
- Become Stress Free
- Lose Weight
- Quit Smoking
- Increase Your Education
- Save Money
- Eat Healthier
- To Not Have a New Year’s Resolution
- Get Good Grades
- Learn a New Language
- Stop Watching Porn
I guess that’s why Americans are more stressed, chubbier, smokier, dumber, poorer, sicker, more cynical, less linguistic, and more sexually immoral than we were in 2014 (no studies support this cynical data).
I say all of this because what we really need to be saying is, “Lord, help us!”
Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you.
This year, redeem your resolution by focusing on ways to pour into the Kingdom of God rather than yourself. After all, it’s often said that the best way to love yourself is to love those around you. Look for ways to strengthen the Church. Care for orphans. Support a refugee family. Empower a struggling family to care for their vulnerable children.
And don’t fear - His grace and power already defeated failure.