Everyone is thinking about the New Year, starting to put together resolutions or reading plans. These are ten things that you should do in 2023. In honesty, these are things you should commit to at any time in life (as with most “New Year’s” commitments), but why not take these ten items and commit to pursuing them during the new year? Admittedly, these are things where I need to grow as well, and things that require renewed resolve regularly (how’s that for alliteration?).
- Be in a Church. I don’t mean “be a member” if you think “be a member” permits non-attendance. I don’t mean “be a member” if you’re not a believer. I mean “go to church.” Be there twice on Sundays. Be at the “extra” thing the church does, whether a prayer meeting or time of teaching or whatever it is they do during the week. If you claim to be a Christian, this should be a no-brainer, but for a lot of people it’s not. If you’re not a Christian, and need to know “what church should I go to” and “what does it look like to ‘go to church,’?” feel free to reach out to me and I can help you out.
- Be in the Bible as a Family. If you are married and have children, you ought to be regularly reading the Bible together. This should be common, but it isn’t. People are often surprised when their children leave the church, or when they begin attending somewhere of very different convictions. This isn’t always because they didn’t instill things in them as a family, but it is often the case. Promote the doctrines of your church, point at the law and point to the gospel.
- Pass on and Receive What’s Important. If you’re an older person, look for someone young to hand over what you value (and if it’s something actually handed over, let go of it when it’s time). Sometimes these are principles, but it should also be practices, activities, organizations, etc. Older people expect the young to look for them, but there’s often a sense among younger people of “If they’ve got it covered, there’s no need there for me to fill.” Further, if you don’t pass things on purposefully, the next generation might not understand the value of something. If you think it’s good, do the work to say “Here’s why this was started,” and then do the work to teach the next generation how to do it. Voting? Church activities? Community services? All of these are things where there’s recognizable disengagement by rising generations. Tied to this, if the “passing on” of things is done on a personal level, be ready to hear the next generation discuss different ways of doing the same sort of thing. If the practice is important, and if the values it demonstrates are important, then it may be that the particulars are different from one generation to the next. If you’re a younger person, look at the things that are done by older people and seek to come alongside them (and under them). Remember, they used to be young and full of passion, and the thing they do is something that they believed (and still believe) is important for expression of good things. While it might look different in various ways from how you would do it or will do it in the future, learn what it is and why it is.
- Go to Funerals. You’re going to die. Going to a funeral reminds you of that and forces you to consider how you’re living life now in view of that fact. Further, it comforts people to see people they care about attending a funeral for someone else they cared about. I try to make it to funerals when I can. I haven’t been able to make it to all of those that would have been good for me to go to, but I do try. If you’re a younger person, don’t wait for your parents to tell you to attend a funeral; decide for yourself that you’re going to go.
- Spend Time in Meditation and Prayer. We live in a noisy world, and contrary to the way a lot people mention that, it’s not a bad thing. Words are good, conversation is good, time with others is good. (Of course, these are often bad too). But we have largely begun to fill times that were designed for quiet contemplation (what Christian meditation is) and prayer with more noise. Go for a walk, sit in silence, go to the woods, journal if you need too, but have regular time in your day and life without noise (audible or otherwise, e.g., social media).
- Get Coffee/Lunch. In our time, it’s easier for those who are physically close to you to be more relationally distant (which is one reason I really dislike Zoom). Make it a practice to meet with people regularly for breakfast/coffee/lunch. It can be the same person all the time or different people every time, but make it a habit in some way to spend time talking to people face-to-face.
- Have People Over. Like the item above, make it a practice of having people over to your home. You can be formal, but you don’t have to be (I actually prefer it to be really informal). Have dinner, hang out, talk. (Note: If you’re single, it’s unwise to do this with someone of the opposite sex by themselves).
- Watch Your Intake. We are a gluttonous age, and this applies to food as well as other things. Everyone is overweight; everyone overindulges in social media; everyone overindulges in some particular form of consumption. (Every time someone says we’re “consumeristic,” translate that in your mind to “gluttonous”). Make it a point to monitor what you take in. Since we are quite prosperous, we can’t depend on the lack of something to create a natural limitation on things. Thus, we must create those limitations for ourselves.
- Enjoy Good Things. While this may seem like a contradiction to the previous item, they actually go hand in hand. If you always eat a good steak, you soon lose your appreciation for good steak. Enjoy wine, cigars, steak, chocolate, beer, art, videos, humor, etc. Don’t live your life in overindulgence, but also don’t deprive yourself of the enjoyment of that which is pleasing and good.
- Stop Complaining. It is a hard world, and there are things we don’t like about all sorts of things, particularly about the “way things are run,” and it is extremely easy to spend days complaining about things to friends, leaders, neighbors, etc. In other words, there are good reasons to complain, and it’s easy to complain, but the better thing to do is not complain. This will bring about greater submission, greater camaraderie, greater innovation, and greater enjoyment. Why? It brings greater submission because the decision not to complain to or about leaders leaves you with a disposition to follow them or at least to allow them to lead. It brings greater camaraderie because the things discussed are edifying and enjoyable. It brings greater innovation because, if you can’t complain, you must come up with a way to pursue things within the structure. It brings greater enjoyment because in leaving off complaints, you are forced to discuss things that are more enjoyable.
These ten things are good practices for all of life. If you are given to using natural changes in life as a means to focus or refocus on various things, and if the change of a calendar year is one of those things you use, use this list as a help in your pursuit of “the good life.” Go to church, bring the faith into your home, pass on and receive what’s important, spend time learning at funerals and in meditation and prayer, meet with people in various settings and without complaining, and enjoy the gifts of life in a way that is appropriate.