Twice in Haggai chapter one, the word of the Lord through the prophet Haggai is “Consider your ways.” The first time (in verse 5), God is instructing His people to consider what has been happening in their lives–to wake up to the reality of the emptiness of their condition. They are to look carefully at what is going on, in order to see what is broken and in need of change. Then when God again says “Consider your ways” (in verse 7), He follows that with an exhortation to do whatever they can to deal with the brokenness of their current situation, and He promises His presence–that He will bring about the change as they takes steps of obedience.
Considering our ways is something that should be happening all throughout the year, but it is especially appropriate at the beginning of a new year. And what God says through the prophet Haggai gives us something more to work with than merely generating a random list of New Year’s resolutions. We would do well to first consider what is broken or empty or ineffective in our lives, and then consider what God is calling us to do to address those areas of brokenness or need. But that whole process must be anchored in the reality that God is present with us, and He alone brings lasting change in our hearts and our circumstances.
Toward that end, I discovered an excellent list of questions to help us consider our ways as we think through the year to come. These are from Don Whitney, an author and professor in Louisville, Kentucky.
1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
You can read his whole article here. I was especially challenged by the first question–that is not one I have ever considered as I think about goals each year. May you also be challenged to consider your ways in this year ahead…