In high school, I was having a conversation with one of my mentors named Duane. Over the course of that conversation, Duane said something that will stick with me the rest of my life: “Life is about the perspective you adopt.” At first that may not sound very profound. To be honest, it didn’t seem all that profound to me when he first said it, but over time as I’ve matured, that statement has helped me tremendously. Life is truly about the perspective you adopt. As I’ve thought long and hard on that statement over the years, it has occurred to me as the New Year has dawned upon us that we all may need a perspective adjustment.
The counsel of my mentor has been especially helpful when I’ve gone through difficult times, in particular over the course of 2013 in dealing with my dad’s dementia. “Life is about the perspective you adopt” for me has been a sentence the Lord has used in my life to keep focused on Him. The perspective statement was stated by a seasoned Christian at a time in my life when I was really struggling with some heavy issues, and it has helped me realize that my perspective was wrong. I was so focused on what was happening to me that I was missing out on what God had for me. In other words, my focus and attention were directed more on myself than on God and His Son Jesus Christ.
For many people, the start of a New Year isn’t a big deal. It is just a continuation of the previous years all strung together. I understand that type of thinking but to be honest, that approach often leads to apathy. I know this well because in high school I often mused, “I can’t wait till high school is done”. Furthermore, even in my adult years, I have had the tendency to think to myself, “I can’t wait till this project or this thing is done” rather than “I can’t wait to dive into this project or to school because of the opportunity it gives me to glorify God”. The subtle difference between these two statements is worth noting. The first statement demonstrates the attitude of focusing on my circumstances while the second statement places its focus on desiring to give glory to God in my daily life. It is precisely this kind of subtle but seismic shift that many of us need in the New Year. Rather than year after year stringing together with blazing speed, we desperately need to set God oriented goals. It is the intent of this post to share how the Christian life is a life of goal setting by the grace of God.
At first you may think it is weird that I say, “The Christian life is a life of goal setting by the grace of God”. My point is that we all make goals, some of them good and some of them bad. I want you to make good goals this year and seek after them diligently by the grace of God. The Christian life is described by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 9:24-25 in terms of being a race. Additionally, the author of Hebrews in Hebrews 12 tells his readers that they are to look to Jesus, also using language in that chapter which teaches the Christian life is a marathon and the believer is to run towards Jesus and seek Him in all of life. Since that is true, the Christian must desire like the Apostle Paul did to persevere and finish well to the end by looking to Jesus (2 Timothy 4:7). Since our desire as born again Christians is to look to Jesus and grow in His grace, then we must set clearly defined goals and adopt a perspective in the New Year that is conducive to grow in Christ rather than being spiritually stagnant.
This New Year will be filled with many challenges and hardships for some people and for others, 2014 is going to be a year of great blessing. No matter what this year brings for you, resolve by the grace of God that this year you will press through whatever challenges or blessings that come by setting clearly defined goals to know, grow, and enjoy the grace of God. After all, years come and years go so quickly. It seems to me that we will blink and June will be here and then Christmas will be right around the corner. Grocery stores and retail shops are already preparing for Valentine’s Day and the Christmas/New Year holiday has just finished. As people, we are always looking for the next great thing and experience. What better way to begin the New Year than to resolve at the outset to focus on what is most important, namely growing in Christ, serving in your local church, committing to reading through the Bible in a year, joining a small group at your local church and enjoying sharing Christ with your friends and family. You might even consider starting a blog and sharing some of your thoughts as you study the Word of God. It might be time to pick up some good Christian books to begin reading. Whatever you decide to do this year, I pray you will set clearly defined goals for this year and do not flitter away the opportunity this year provides. I sincerely pray you will resolve by the grace of God to grow deep and wide in the Word of God which contains the message of the Gospel. By growing deep and wide in the Gospel, not only will your perspective change, but so will your life as you seek to live your life under God’s Word and for His glory.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.