A New Year, New Beginnings for the Christian Steward

The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3000  years. The start of a New Year gives us the feeling of a fresh start, a new beginning, and new opportunities.  It is a time when  people  feel that they can begin anew  with their lives. Common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more and eat healthier;  or to spend  more time with family. Still others include  managing  money better and being more organized.

Although there is nothing in the Bible or notable in Christian tradition  about  New Year’s resolutions, many good stewards take advantage of this time of year to become closer to the  Lord. They may  re-commit  themselves  to pray  more,  to read  the Bible, or to attend  Mass more  regularly.  If you are looking for some ideas for your New Year’s resolutions, here are a few to get you started:

Practice gratitude – Cultivating a grateful heart is the  hallmark of a Christian steward.  Every day, express thankfulness to the Lord and to others.

Encounter the Lord each  day – Find time to be with the Lord each day,  whether it be for an hour or ten minutes. Have a conversation with the Lord. Give your joys and worries to Him as well. Allow God’s love to transform  them. Our  encounters will keep  our  eyes  and  ears  open  to the presence of Christ in our midst.

Be present to  others – There  is  much  celebration  and mourning, joy and sorrow in peoples’ lives. What a blessing it is to be able to share those times and not let others experience them alone. The gift of your presence to others is much more valuable  than you realize.

 

Ask the Lord for guidance, strength and perseverance in achieving your resolutions.

 

Resist overwork – There  is a pressure  to produce, meet goals,  be  successful.  But activities  that  lead  us  to  overwork, constant fatigue and worry do not give glory to God. What God calls us to do we can do well. Be mindful that life requires  balance, down  time and letting go of unrealistic goals.

Nurture friendships – Our friends are those we choose  to be  with,  those  with  whom  we  spend  our  evenings,  with whom  we vacation,  to whom  we go to for advice.  Friends are  gifts from God  who  give us a greater  appreciation of God’s love for us. Friends need our time and love.

Give more – Good  stewards  realize  that  everything  they have is entrusted  to them as a gift to be shared. There is no better place to begin than sharing with the community that gathers around  the Lord’s table at Mass. Consider what you are giving to your parish and local diocese  and commit  to an even greater contribution as circumstances allow.

Make a difference in your parish community – Believe it or not, your parish community can use your talents.  Offering your talents to your faith community is one of the most effective ways to feel useful and connected to others, and it is a potentially  life-changing New Year’s resolution.

Consider living more simply – We cannot  find fulfillment in possessions. They add  nothing  to our  self-worth. Jesus blessed  the  “poor  in spirit” in his Sermon  on  the  Mount; and Saint Francis of Assisi urged us to live with only what was necessary,  for that is how we begin to find God.

Get  healthy –  Studies  show  that  most  people   in  North America are accelerating their own decline  into premature old age, owing to poor diet and lack of physical activity. Be a good steward of your body. If necessary,  plan a complete overhaul  of your diet and exercise habits.

Don’t give up
– People give up their New Year’s resolutions because of perfectionism and  unrealistic  expectations. So take it slow, be kind to yourself and keep trying. Resist the urge to throw your hands up and quit. You succeed through small, manageable changes  over time.

Turn to the Lord – Ask the Lord for guidance, strength and perseverance in  achieving   your  resolutions.  In  his  letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul writes: “I can  do everything through  Him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). If God is the center of our New Year’s resolutions, they have a better chance for success.

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