I have a confession to make. Every year, I set out a ton of New Years Resolutions. Although there is some variability, the themes relating to these goals are generally the same - exercise daily, reduce my sugar content, spend more time with my friends and family. And every year by about mid February, I am completely failing at these goals. Now admittedly, sometimes I have had to give up on these goals due to things outside of my control (e.g getting pregnant really limited my ability to exercise daily) but often it was because I didn’t see the immediate results or rewards and lost motivation. So, this year I am doing it a bit differently. I am currently reading a book called “Faith Based ACT for Christian Clients” to help me up skill for work and it talks about the importance of both values and also godly virtues. Now, I have discussed values in previous blogs but just to recap values are “verbally constructed, global, desired and chosen life directions” (Luoma, Hayes & Walzer, 2007) which are used to help build a meaningful path in life. Unlike goals, they are constant, and you are able to taken action in line with these values, irrespective of your external (or internal) experience. As an example, you may have a value of being successful (rather than say having the goal of getting a promotion at work). However, due to COVID; you may have lost your job meaning that you cannot achieve your goal of getting a promotion at work and feel defeated, depressed and unmotivated. But, if instead of having this goal you choose to live a life where you are focused on success; you could channel that value into being successful in other parts of you life (e.g being a good partner, friend, parent) or working in line with that value by applying for work, attending interviews etc. In sum, while goals are often dictated by external circumstances that can be outside of our control, values are internal ideas which can guide you, irrespective of circumstances.
But how do I know what my values are, you may ask. For my clients, I can provide them with worksheets or activities to help define their values; but as Christians, we are blessed to have clearly defined values (or more specifically virtues) from God which can show us how to live our life with the aim of building fellowship and connection with God. These virtues can include - wisdom, justice, self control, courage, love, hope and faith and by acting in line with them we build our relationship with God and demonstrate his love, power and acceptance to the people around us.
So, what does it look like to act in line with God’s virtues? Ultimately, our goal is to follow Jesus and emulate him. This may mean choosing to taking actions that you normally wouldn’t, such as standing up for a colleague (courage) instead of listening to them being bullied by a coworker. Or showing love and welcoming to someone that you would not normally include. Or maybe it's taking a leap of faith and create an “impossible prayers” list of things that you want to change, but have no power or ability to do so.
Ultimately, what I am encouraging you to do this year (and what I myself am doing) is to reconsider your New Years Resolutions and instead of having goals, cast your eyes on God and pick a virtue or value that you want to emulate and focus on that. I'm focusing on self control and aim to keep you updated on how I go with that throughout the year.
- Written by Ashleigh Crosilla.