DR. ROB GRIFFIN
It’s almost hard to believe that another new year is upon us, with all its uncertainties and possibilities. It’s at this time that New Year’s resolutions abound, said or unsaid, as people contemplate the fresh start that a new year tries to bring. At the same time, the idea of new can be unsettling. It is said that many people who take the DISC profile have some measure of the “S” personality type in them. This means that for many, the idea of steady is more appealing than the idea of change.
This can lead to some level of resistance when the possibility of new sets in. This may even become more prevalent as we get older. Change often becomes somewhat, (if not absolutely), negative. The point here is simple; not all change is bad, and not all change is good, which is a perplexing tension at times. This tension begs the question, “How can we embrace the new in our lives in a positive way?”
Perhaps a good place to begin is to recognize we often step forward looking backward. Every year, we bring much of the last year with us, (which, again, has this good/bad tension potential). In this, there are things that need to be kept, while there are some things that need to be let go of. That can be a challenge! Paul reflected on this kind of moment in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Straining forward and forgetting behind is a concept that can be used in a lot of areas of life.
Because of this, I want to take a moment to examine some things that may help us embrace the new! I believe that it helps to start with a NEW OUTLOOK. New outlooks are intentional, although not always easy. Our outlook, (how we view things), often determines our direction. Therefore, it is imperative to have a healthy outlook.
To do this, there are some things I’d like for us to consider.
For starters, a new outlook requires a new focus. It is easy to deduct that there are moments when we need to adjust our focus. Jesus specifically called out the issue of healthy focus in Matthew 6:22-23, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
The expression here is clear; what we focus on is what we risk becoming, because our outlook determines what we internalize! For instance, if we focus only on the problem, the potential is to become negative. But if we focus on the promise, or even the solution, (while still recognizing the problem), we can maintain a positive mindset. This isn’t ignoring the facts or distorting reality. Instead, it means that where we focus is instrumental in us having a better response to whatever reality we face. This reality ultimately reflects in our attitude, demeanor, speech, temperament, involvement, and actions! My point, what we choose to focus on, and how we allow that focus to affect us, is very important when it comes to how we think, feel and act!
Indeed, there are moments when we need to adjust our focus. We all have a paradigm, (shaped by our life experiences), which becomes our worldview. Things such as our family, experiences, and cultural environments shape this personal viewpoint. I have found it to be true that people can live in a community, eat and shop in the same places, maybe even live under the same roof, and still have completely different paradigms. But just because we all have a personal paradigm doesn’t mean that it is always good or factual. There are times that a focus adjustment may help in seeing things in a healthier light. For me, listening to wise counsel and having a willingness to see things from a different perspective helps in the process of adjusting my focus in this healthier direction.
Another thing that can help us to embrace the new is to look for new hope. Paul said in Ephesians 1:18-19, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength…” When we know our God has the power to take care of us, we can stand firm in our hope that it is well. God’s people can walk in their world with confidence, knowing that God will see them through!
Moving further, new faith can also help us embrace the new. I am reminded often of Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” New faith is holding on to the promise before we actually see the provision—while declaring God is and God does! But when there is a pessimistic or negative outlook, then it is very hard, (if not impossible), to have this kind of faith.
I should note that new faith is also trusting that no matter what the circumstance looks like, God can be trusted to bring the right outcome. Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Here, the writer says, “ALL THINGS,” not just the good things. This reveals that God can be trusted even in bad situations, diagnoses, circumstances, or experiences. He still works for the good to those who love Him and are called by Him for His purpose. The word here is TRUST.
Finally, in order to embrace the new, it helps to have new dedication. Think for a moment about New Year’s resolutions. For many people, these resolutions are just talk, because there really isn’t the kind of dedication that is needed to accomplish the goal. The resolution might be something desired, but the level of commitment to see it through might not be so strong. To embrace the new, a rededicated, committed life to God, His promises, and His Kingdom is vital.
As we step into this new year, my prayer is that God will give us the strength and ability to embrace the new, and that His blessing will rest on our lives, families, teams, ministries, and churches.
Dr. Rob Griffin has been in ministry since 1986. He is the founding pastor of Triumph Worship Center in Glenpool, Oklahoma. He earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree at Oral Roberts University and is also an instructor for Destiny Leadership Institute.