Revelation 21:5: He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
A new year offers the hope of a change, the opportunity to reshape, and the chance to reform our habits. People make New Year’s resolutions in an attempt to create new routines and patterns in their lives. The problem is many people’s resolutions look like this:
Stop eating junk food.
Drink less alcohol.
We all know the things we want to stop doing, but we must use tremendous effort and willpower in attempting to stop our bad habits. Unfortunately, research finds this doesn’t work in the long run. Charles Duhigg in his New York Times bestselling book The Power of Habit says, “The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.”
What he is saying is it is not just enough to stop doing a bad habit; it’s way too difficult and many of us end up failing. So instead, let’s try something new. But what will we do this year?
I want to give you four important steps to doing something new in your life
1. Replace something old with something new.
Sometimes the best place to look to do something new is to first identify what you should stop or quit.
Duhigg says, “…to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.” Recognize the cue that triggers the craving, and instead of putting your old habit in there, establish a new routine that will end with a similar reward or sense of satisfaction.
If you don’t like a certain part of how you are living, perhaps it’s best to set a new habit to replace that bad habit. To be honest, most of us probably do have something we should stop or quit this year.
I see way too many people that quit doing something for a while, but if it’s not replaced with something else, they’ll just go right back to it. People do this with their sin they are trying to overcome. They fight it for a season, but if it’s not replaced, they’ll just go right back to it.
Some even pray to God and ask, “God, take away this passion for pornography, alcohol, shopping.” God doesn’t want to take away your passion! He wants to move the passion that is being used for habits against His will and use that very same passion to start habits that will grow His Kingdom!
So rather than settling on stopping or quitting as your goal, what if you added or changed one bad habit and in place of that, you started a good habit this year. What would you add or change? What would this look like?
2. Start with the “who” in mind rather than the “what.”
Who do you want to be? Before we talk about “what” let’s start with “who”. So many people start with “do” or “don’t” goals or resolutions, but what’s most important is to look at who you want to be, because that will inform what you “do” or “don’t” do. Based on who you want to become; what habit do you need to incorporate into your life?
Let me give you a few examples.
This year you might decide:
- I want to appreciate people more. So you might decide to write a hand-written note each week to someone in your life.
- I want to be more focused this year. So you might decide to every day wake up and prioritize your top 3 things of the day.
- I want to be a better spouse this year. So you might decide to do a weekly date with your spouse.
- I want to be healthier this year. So you might decide to work out 3 times a week for 20 minutes a day.
- I want to be more connected to God this year. So you might decide to read through the Bible, which takes 10-15 minutes a day.
3. Do something small, and do it very well.
These small disciplines, or habits, may grow over time. This year you might write one hand-written note a week, but in 5 years, you might do one each day. You might work out 3 times a week this year, but in a few years, you might work out every single day.
I heard Craig Groeschel once say, “Small steps over a long period of time equals major impact.”
Here at Red Letter, we exist to help you become the most effective follower of Jesus that you can be. That’s why the Red Letter Challenge offers daily challenges. It’s not enough for us to just stop our unhealthy habits. To truly see change in our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we must integrate new practices and get into a new routine. This book offers opportunity to build new habits and form new routines with the help of creative and challenging daily exercises.
Which leads me to my last point.
4. Invite God and others into your new thing.
If you keep your goal or habit to yourself, you have much less of a chance of finishing it. When you include others in your goal, or invite others into it with you, you have a much better chance to succeed. I’ve had lots of ideas and new things I’ve started in life. The one’s that work out best are the one’s where I bring others into it with me.
But, just inviting other people into it isn’t enough.
Invite God into it.
He is the master of creating all things new.
Revelation 21:5 describes this very scene; “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” This is in the present tense. Jesus doesn’t say, “I WILL make all things new”, or “Sometime in the future everything will be fixed.” Revelation says that this process is ongoing and currently happening in all of us and we can be a part of the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation in our lives today.
Many of us struggle to finish what we start. In fact, according to Jon Acuff’s book “Finish“, 92% of won’t finish the things we start.” If we have a problem finishing, then why not bring the “Finisher” onto your team. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He starts things. And he finishes things. Even when it looked like He was finished, He rose from the dead! God has the resurrecting, finishing power that you need. And the greatest news is: you can have it for FREE. Just ask God into your life.
Rather than just trying to stop old habits, do something new this year!
“But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.” Romans 7:6 ESV
P.S.: Speaking of doing something new this year, what if, you could help your entire church put in new disciplines that will change their life forever. Carey Nieuwhof says, “I love how Red Letter Challenge makes it easy to get an entire church diving deeper into the teachings of Jesus.” If you are interested in having your whole church get involved and pick up a new habit of reading and practicing the words of Jesus, check out this link for church packages of all sizes or email us here for more information.
Acuff, Jon. FINISH: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. Portfolio Penguin. 2018.
Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast: Episode 47, Six Steps to the Best Year of Leadership, Part 1
Duhigg, Charles. (2012) The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. New York. Random House Trade Paperbacks.