Here’s an unpopular idea for a New Years Resolution: resolve to do nothing in 2011.
That’s not the same as resolving not to make a resolution. My general pattern is to avoid them, as so many resolutions fall by the wayside before January expires, let alone survive the whole year. Rather, I’m proposing you resolve to be intentional about doing nothing. Let me explain.
There are two great Scriptures I’ve been chewing on in 2010. Both talk about the virtues of doing nothing. First, the words of Christ:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
Last October, Paul McKaughan of The Mission Exchange dusted off John 15:5 in his devotional thoughts at a conference in St. Louis. He reminded us that the verse doesn’t say that we will only produce some fruit. It doesn’t say we won’t be able to do much. It says we can do nothing. I want to have a productive, effective 2011. So I resolve to remain, to abide, in Christ.
After Moses brings the two tablets down from Mount Sinai to find all Israel worshiping a golden calf, he’s not the only one who is angry. In Exodus 33, God tells them he won’t travel with them on their journey, lest he destroy them. Moses pushes back: “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.” I’d rather dwell with Christ where he is than try to go anywhere or do anything in 2011. Even better if I can join him where’s he’s at work.
Secondly, in Philippians 2:3,4 Paul admonishes:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
The point isn’t that I hold back from ambitious acts. The kingdom of God and his glory are of too much value to hold back. What it’s saying is that if my motives are bad, God would rather I do nothing. The HOW is important. So I need to clothe myself in humility, seeking others’ interests in a way that shows I value them over myself and over my plans. That is the way we advance God’s kingdom — by doing his work his way.
I have high hopes for 2011. We’ll see if I can carry out this resolution past January.