Each and every year, I go through the motions of making resolutions on or before New Year’s Day. Some years, I’ve written a manifesto of sorts on all the things I’d like to change or affect and why. Other years it’s one sentence. Most of the time it’s in-between.

Take last year, for instance. Some hit, some missed.

…lose 25 more pounds. Ummmm. DISMAL failure.
…read 52 books. Well, I got 40 done. Not too bad.
…learn 12 songs on the guitar. Again, DISMAL failure.
…learn to cook breakfast including pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausage–the whole bit. Mission accomplished, even though I didn’t do it much after I learned it.
…learn to make a really good chili. I didn’t do it, but I got some crock pot recipies that I promptly have misplaced.

Take 2007’s simple one: No sodas. HUGE success! But then I started again this summer after 18 months of avoidance. Dumb.

Other years I have noble & high-falutin’ goals, like to “lovingly influence the future of our church.” Or generics, like, “Be a better father. A better husband. A better friend.” I like making ones like these, even if they sound as hollow as a beauty pagent contestant desiring world peace. I think the trouble with them is that I have trouble determining if I did them. I mean, I have times when I did them well and maybe even overall I did a good job…but there were spots when I failed. Like 2005:

“Rouse the rabble
Burn bridges of convention and safety
avoid a well-worn path to successful mediocrity
be less of a copy and more of an original

(*Specifically, with the idea I’m being less than obedient to God at present*)

…and to at least get rejection letters from one book publisher and two magazine editors.”

I don’t even know what I meant by those, so I can’t expect you to. I actually did the last one, though.

Same for 2004:

Resolved: Write the book. Yeah. Ahem. Not quite. Didn’t even start.
Resolved: Date night with Tracy once a month…at least. Kinda.
Resolved: Get comfortable with the my job’s evolution. Kinda. But then it changed again. Twice since I wrote it.
Resolved: Re-commit to breakfast with my daughters on Saturdays. Kinda–we decided on coffee on Monday mornings.
Resolved: Live out an authentic abundant/messy life in front of the congregation I serve and rock their worlds by demanding the same from them. Wait. What?

This year, I’m in a very specific kind of mood…so here we go:

Resolved: To drink zero sodas.
Resolved: To purchase and complete the P90X training system by May 1.
Resolved: To read 45 books.
Resolved: To take my wife on 6 dates that I plan and work all the details.
Resolved: To take all my vacation days and use them for what they’re intended to be, as well as to take my two weeks of “spiritual refreshment” time and use them for what they’re intended to be.
Resolved: To contact my seminary to start the process (and continue in the process as directed by them) of becoming an adjunct professor of student ministry.
Resolved: To engage in two acts of “mortification” and one act of “vivification” to enhance my spiritual life. I know what these mean…but basically there are two areas of my inner life (that obviously affect my outward actions) I’d like to harness and put to death. There’s also an act of “coming alive to” in my spiritual life: I’d like to read through the Bible in The Message by next December 31.

Well, that’s it for this year. We’ll check out how we’re doing at the end of July and next December, too.