Every January, people around the world set New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight. Read more. Learn a new skill. Etc., etc. While these are admirable goals, they aren’t specifically New Year’s resolutions for Christians. This year, how can you set faith-based intentions that you will actually follow?
Are New Year’s Resolutions Biblical?
Before considering what New Year’s resolutions for Christians might be, first we need to answer this important question.
Are New Year’s resolutions biblical?
While the bible doesn’t explicitly say anything about New Year’s resolutions, it does offer clear guidance for Christians. Consider the two greatest commandments:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:30-31
Do you follow these commandments, every single minute of every single day?
I know that I fail daily to live up to these commandments, but I also resolve daily to do better. When I fail, I ask God for forgiveness. Then I pray that God will equip me to do better.
New Year’s resolutions for Christians are similar to this daily prayer practice, but for the entire year.
Look at it this way.
Many New Year’s resolutions for Christians fall into two categories:
- overcoming a sin
- maintaining a consistent spiritual discipline like prayer or Bible study
Some resolutions might fall into both categories, like if your sin of sloth keeps you from reading your Bible.
These resolutions model daily prayer!
What are New Year’s Resolutions?
New Year’s resolutions date back to both the ancient Babylonians and the Romans, both of whom made promises to their gods.
New Year’s resolutions for Christians, however, have their own history. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, established the Covenant Renewal Service in 1755. This is an opportunity for Christians to recommit themselves to God.
While the first service was held on August 11, 1755, the Covenant Service is now typically held early in January.
Today, people make New Year’s resolutions for all sorts of reasons, religious and otherwise. While every day is a good day to form new habits, I find it easier to start something new in a season of newness. A new week, a new month–and especially a new year–encourage me to become a better version of myself.
Personally, I prefer to set intentions for the year, but those can still look like New Year’s resolutions.
For the sake of simplicity, I will continue to refer to New Year’s resolutions for Christians in this blog post.
How to Set Faithful New Year’s Resolutions
You’re more likely to keep a New Year’s resolution that you make for yourself and your relationship with God. One reason people fail to follow through with their New Year’s resolutions is their lack of intrinsic motivation. You won’t truly pursue a goal that meets someone else’s expectations.
The following guidelines will help you determine the best Christ-centered New Year’s resolutions for yourself.
Ask God for guidance. Ask God to reveal Her will for your life. Prayerfully consider how you can better serve God in the new year.
Certainly pray at the beginning of this process. Consider praying during each of the following steps as well.
2) Assess the Previous Year
Did you set any spiritual goals last year? Were they too lofty, or did they challenge you just right? If you successfully created new spiritual habits, how can you expand those habits this year?
How did you grow as a Christian overall, even if not part of a particular goal or resolution?
We are all sinners. None of us live up to the perfect example of Christ our savior. Every evening, I ask God to forgive my sins, and I ask God to help me with my weaknesses. The next morning, I start the day anew, forgiven.
A new year is like this too, in a big picture way. Instead of focusing on our daily failures, let’s look at an entire year of spiritual growth. When you acknowledge your closer connection to God, you recognize the possibility for an even greater Christian life.
That said, don’t forget to ask the hard questions too. These will help you narrow your focus on areas for improvement.
Which sins have been hardest to overcome? Which sins cause harm not just to yourself, but to your loved ones?
3) Be Realistic
Optimism is good. Faith that God will help you is good.
You should still determine reasonable resolutions. Otherwise you might give up trying to achieve the impossible.
Think about your current lifestyle, your day-to-day routines. Be honest with yourself about your current spiritual habits, your free time, your disposable income, your current health status, etc.
These will set the parameters around your New Year’s resolution.
4) Choose a Resolution That Glorifies God
What is your motivation? Why is your heart leading you to this resolution?
Three (or more!) people can make the same New Year’s resolution for completely different reasons. Your motivation should be to glorify God.
Consider the common resolution to lose weight.
Do you struggle with the sins of gluttony and sloth? Do you want to improve your physical health in order to honor the body God gave you?
Or is your motivation based on vanity, the desire to look a certain way?
Maybe you already live an active, healthy lifestyle, but you’re tempted by the insidious lie that you must be thin to have value.
Three reasons to resolve to lose weight. The first honors God, with the intrinsic motivation to better serve God. The second still stems from intrinsic motivation, but the motivation is selfish. The third is based on external pressure.
5) Add Action Steps
Action steps will help you achieve your overall resolution. What are all the little goals that add up to your resolution?
Use the SMART system to create action steps. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-sensitive.
For example, if you’ve decided to improve your physical health this year, here are some possible action steps for you.
- Say a genuine prayer before each meal.
- Slow down. Enjoy each meal as a gift from God.
- Learn your body’s hunger cues. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re satisfied.
- Abstain from alcohol for the entire month of January.
- Limit soda and alcohol to weekends only.
- Walk 10 minutes daily, 3 days per week, for the entire month of February.
- Bump that to 15 minutes daily, 4 days per week, for the entire month of March.
- Take the stairs if you’re only going up or down one or two floors.
- Park farther away when you’re shopping.
- Cook two new recipes each month.
- Contribute a healthy dish to the church potluck.
- Suggest fellowship activities that don’t involve food, like taking a walk or visiting a museum.
Write down a few easy action steps to get started. It might be easier to focus on what you can do during the first three months of the year. Then you can reassess your action steps in the spring.
Personally I like action steps that help me develop good habits. For example, I actually abstain from alcohol every January. The rest of the time, I limit alcohol to weekends and special occasions. I’ve been doing this since at least 2019, maybe even earlier. After following these guidelines for years, I’ve developed true habits that I follow without thinking!
6) Find an Accountability Partner
Christians thrive when we discover true fellowship with other believers. The Bible reminds us to help one another. I love these guidelines for Christian fellowship.
Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.1 Thessalonians 5:11-15
An accountability partner is someone who helps you stay on track with your goals. In turn, you help them with their own goals. Ideally, you would seek out a Christian friend or family member as your accountability partner.
You have flexibility in setting up the parameters of your accountability partnership. I recommend at least weekly check-ins for prayer, mutual encouragement, and hard conversations. If you already have a close relationship with your accountability partner, you can choose to do more.
7) Forgive Yourself
To err is human; to forgive, divine.Alexander Pope
Not only are we all sinners, we are all prone to mistakes. You will not perfectly achieve every single action step. Some days, sin will cause your failure. Other days, human error or unexpected circumstances will prevent your goals.
None of that means you have failed your New Year’s resolution.
Forgive yourself for oversleeping, for getting a speeding ticket, for missing Bible study.
Don’t allow a single bad day derail your entire year.
5 Christian New Year’s Resolution Ideas
If you need help choosing a biblical New Year’s resolution, these ideas will help. Each of these resolutions focuses on adding a spiritual discipline to your life.
1) Improve Your Prayer Life
Consistent prayer is key to your relationship with God! This verse really sums it up:
Pray without ceasing1 Thessalonians 5:17
Last year is when I finally started being consistent every single day with prayer. This year, I want to improve upon that by dedicating more of my time to prayer.
These prayer resources will help you establish a daily prayer routine.
- Christian Prayer: What Every Believer Needs to Know
- How to Prioritize Prayer in a Busy Lifestyle
- 31 Days of Prayer Prompts
2) Read the Bible Consistently
Reading the Bible is also so important for Christians to do consistently!
While I haven’t written anything myself about daily Bible reading, I’ve found helpful resources from other Christian women.
- How to Read the Bible (Easy Instructions for Beginners!)
- 7 Easy Steps to Bible Study for Beginners
- How to Study the Bible in 4 Simple Steps
Last year is also when I started being more consistent with reading the Bible, through a mix of devotionals and Bible studies. However, I have not yet achieved daily Bible reading–but I’m working on it!
3) Attend Church Consistently
Attending church regularly gives Christians access to biblical instruction and to fellowship.
It’s okay if church is a small group of people, or even an online service. The earliest church gatherings were held in people’s homes!
4) Read More Christian Books
If you already have a good rhythm of devotionals and Bible studies, consider adding other Christian books to your life. You can find multiple Christian book recommendations in the library section of this website.
5) Improve Your Relationships
We can all be better daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, friends, neighbors. Commit to loving people better, not just in thought, but through words and through deeds.
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.1 John 4:7
Final Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions for Christians
One of my favorite Bible verses on Christian living is Romans 12:15. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” This is a reminder that the godly way to act is often situational.
Fulfilling your Christian New Year’s resolution might be situational as well. Focus on the godly intention behind your goal, not rigid metrics.
If you’re looking for a community of Christian women online, join the Muddling Through Together Facebook group! This is a great way to grow as a Christian alongside believers worldwide.
What is your New Year resolution? How can I pray for your spiritual growth this year? Share your thoughts in the comments!