Happy New Year Marvin family! I hope that your year has started off well and that you are anticipating many good things in 2021. Have you thought about growth goals for the new year? From what I have been reading, the making of resolutions is not as popular as it once was in the past.

According to a survey conducted by Opinion Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey, only 45 percent of Americans still make New Year’s resolutions. This is down 50 percent from a higher 88 percent from earlier times. The drop in this familiar practice can be attributed to the fact that many Americans do not find success with their resolutions. The findings from the survey itself seem to support this. For example, only 8 percent of Americans stated that they had regular success achieving their goals, 49 percent had “infrequent success” while 24 percent answered that they never had success. This represents a lot of unfulfilled promises.

One of the other interesting findings in the survey was that there was no “happiness correlation” found between resolution making and the goal achievement. In other words, reaching personal goals does not guarantee happiness, and happy people are not always goal achievers. Interesting.

Does that mean that we should not make specific measurable goals for our lives? What about those who are beginning the year making the commitment to join other Marvin members in reading the entire Bible in 2021? What about commitments to attend worship or a class, develop spiritual growth plans or make a new Christian friendship? All these are admirable and worthy of our best efforts.

In goal setting, good counsel is to place yourself and your habits upon an intentional pathway directed towards a desired goal committing to stay on the pathway, even if, at times, you find yourself wandering off course. Most importantly, the “happiness correlation,” I believe, is found when God is connected to the pathway.

Borrowing an idea from innovation consultant, author, and speaker Stephen Shapiro, another way to approach growth for the coming year is to choose one or two words to describe an attribute you desire to embrace more fully. For example, you might choose “servant” or “prayerful” or “devoted.” These broad themes offer a general direction in which you seek to grow. Maybe these words need to be placed on a post-it note where you see them often.

I am thinking about trying Shapiro’s idea this year: placing two words before me and asking the Holy Spirit to help me grow towards their greater definition of my life.

Making commitments, even if not called resolutions, has a Biblical mooring. In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus asked, “Which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all will see it and begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”

Our lives are under lifetime spiritual construction that requires time and resources for the Lord to complete His good work. From the parable above, we see that planning is an important part of the process as well as finishing the work. What are the plans that God has for your growth this year? I look forward to celebrating that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion, until the day that Christ returns” (Philippians 1:6).

As we begin this new year, it is important to note that on Dec. 7, 2020, the Administrative Council unanimously voted to adopt Marvin’s Strategic Plan. The Strategic Leadership Team, introduced at the meeting, has begun the work of planning the implementation. In the February edition of MarvinLife more information will be shared. Like all of us, Marvin Church is still under construction. Welcome to the new year!