Today is the first of the month, and not just any month. Today is the first day of December. During this time of year, most people settle into a frenzy of shopping, house hoping, and going from one activity to the next. Not me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year! I enjoy all the bright Christmas lights. I love the simple reminder about the miraculous baby who came as Savior of the world. I love Christmas songs, children roasting s’mores over the fire pit, lighting the fire place for the first time, eating well, and wearing warm fuzzy socks as I watch classic Christmas movies.
However, I do not enjoy all the noise, and the hustle and bustle we have made of things. When the rest of America goes into a frenzy, I take December to be still—pause, reflect, and pray.
December is the time to reflect on the goodness of God, and thank Him for who He is, what he has done for our salvation, and all the blessings he has bestowed over the year. It is also a time to set my intentions for the next year.
Notice: I set my intentions. I do not make New Year’s Resolutions.
At best New Year’s Resolutions are wishful thinking. That’s why people get gym memberships in January and resort to their overeating and couch sitting habits by spring. Faith without works is dead.
Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Setting goals, when done well, can be quite beneficial. Good goals are SMART.
Specific. They include details about what needs to be accomplished.
Measurable. Good goals answer the question, “How do you know when you are successful?”
Actionable. Good goals indicate what actions are needed.
Realistic. You must know whether or not your goal or target is obtainable.
Time-specific. Set a time limit.
An example of a good goal would be:
I will write to publish two articles per month resulting in 24 published articles this year.
This was actually a goal I set and accomplished in 2014. I didn’t publish 24 articles in 2015 and I didn’t publish 24 articles this year because my priorities and intentions were different.
Setting intentions is faith in action. It is prayerfully determining where the Lord is leading, and then joining him where he is. Of course, God is everywhere and He is at work all is the time.
There is a reality, however, that God has created each of us in a specific way, for a very specific purpose, at a very specific time, and he has divinely appointed us to specific places to live, work, and worship. Understanding the big picture and getting clarity about our purpose is what drives our intentions. We must first seek the face and listen to the intentions of God.
“Intention” has become one of my favorite words to practice. The very definition means to determine to act in a certain way, having a resolve—it’s an actionable state of being. It is also the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered.
Setting intentions requires a discipline to act. One of my intentions for 2017 is to write my next book. This means that I must pray. I must read. I must write, I must live into the truth that I am writing, and I must be willing to met deadlines.
I have faith in God, and it is because of that faith that I work. Faith without works is dead. I don’t work to earn the Lord’s favor, love, care, or salvation. He has already freely provided that. I don’t work to receive the praise or admiration of people, though all of us appreciate acknowledgement from the right people sometime. More important than the praise of humans is the reality that my faith compels me to work, to act, and to respond rightly in the world.
Setting intentions requires that we answer to the all-important question, “”What was I created for?” Let the answer to that question motivate you to set intentions for 2017. Prayerfully and purposefully prepare to enter 2017 being your spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically authentic self. Let who you are and whose you are, set your priorities and focuses for the year.
What are some of the ways that you reflect and prayerfully prepare for new seasons and transitions?
Blessings, © Natasha Sistrunk Robinson