Everybody likes lists, right? Well, in no particular order here’s my list of New Year’s suggestions (nobody sticks to resolutions), but with a slight twist. Rather than focusing on ways to better ourselves in the new year (such as getting into shape, saving more money, etc.), my suggestions will take our eyes off ourselves and onto bettering our fellow man.
1. Pray for our leaders
Our leaders are human just like the rest of us, so they need our prayers to help them make wise choices in governing our nation. We’ll have a new President in less than a month, and he’ll definitely need the prayers of all of us. May we seek God to grant him wisdom for the sake of our nation and all of God’s people around the world.
2. Perform random acts of kindness
This one gets mentioned a lot throughout the year anyway, but now is as good a time as any to remember that there are people all around us who are hurting. A little kindness in the form of a smile or a few polite words can go a long way when someone feels all alone in the world. You may simply tip a little extra at your favorite coffee shop. Or for more of a challenge, try to say one uplifting thing to someone each day.
3. Volunteer to serve in your church or community
Most churches routinely run short of volunteers. Why not try your hand in the kids’ ministry or on the tech crew? Or you may want to help out at a local homeless shelter serving warm meals to those in need. Many communities offer an after-school tutoring program where you can serve kids. The possibilities are endless.
4. Get to know someone new
Introduce yourself to that quiet guy who works in another department at work. Or strike up a conversation with a stranger while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store. You never know where it may lead. And if you never see each other again, you may at least have brought a little joy into someone’s life for a few moments. Try to do this at least once or twice a week.
5. Be the person you look for others to be
Go the extra mile in your daily life. Pick up that stray piece of trash in the park. At home, wash the dishes if you see them stacked up in the sink. Organize the office to take up a donation or to cook meals when a coworker is sick. When you see a need, don’t wait for someone else to fill it. Take the initiative and be that someone yourself.
These suggestions aren’t for the direct benefit of our own selves, but we can’t consistently give to others without in return bettering our own lives.
Now, I have two bonus suggestions intended for ourselves that are more along the lines of traditional New Year’s resolutions.
6. Memorize two bible verses a week
Pick two verses that are meaningful to you and commit them to memory. You might take one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Do whatever works for you. At the end of the year you’ll have over 100 verses memorized! If memorizing just one verse a week works better for you, then do that instead.
7. Make a reading list of 10-15 books for the year
These could be whatever kind of books you want, but I recommend they inspire you and cause you to think. Maybe you like biographies, or perhaps an intriguing novel is more to your liking. Select spiritual books, or even books of poetry. Just make the list and commit to reading your way through it this year. Even if don’t read everything on your list, you’ll be better for trying.