IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR
by Eric Elder
I was listening to a song on the radio one day with my 21-year-old daughter, Makari, and I said to her, “I wish I could write a song like that one day.”
She turned to me and said, “You can!”
“Really?!?” I said. “Do you think so?”
“Of course, you can!” she replied, with total confidence in my abilities.
As I sat there and thought about it, I couldn’t believe how her simple belief in me changed my whole attitude towards the idea of writing a song that other people might actually come to love as much as I loved listening to that song on the radio.
I’ve since written several songs that I’ve actually come to love like that! I haven’t published them yet, but I hope to someday, and perhaps someday someone else will be blessed by my music as much as I’ve been blessed by the music of others.
I tell you that story to encourage you this year to set some goals for yourself that you can believe in. What a difference it makes to have even one confidence-boosting statement come into your mind, to help you reach for and attain that which God has put on your heart and enabled you to do.
My good friend, Kent Sanders, has encouraged me in my own goal-setting this year in a book he wrote called The Artist’s Suitcase. In his chapter called “Y is for Year,” Kent gave me a great idea for envisioning myself at the end of the year, trying to imagine myself doing some things that I’m not doing now.
One of the things I envisioned was a picture of myself, holding onto a finished script and score for a new musical I’m working on based on the life of St. Nicholas, which my wife and I wrote as a full-length novel a few years ago. I had already started writing the first three scenes and songs at the end of last year, and with my new Kent-inspired vision in mind, I could actually see myself finishing it by the end of this year and holding a copy of the completed script and score in my hand!
I’m telling you this now, that this is one of my goals, as an extra incentive to help me stick to that plan! I’m also planning to Skype with Kent and another good friend for an hour each week to help us all keep on track with the visions God has put on our hearts. I can’t tell you how much doing that same thing helped me last year, as Kent and I both had books we wanted to write. By talking to each other weekly about our progress, reading each other’s work as we went along, we both launched our books on the same day last year. Even though each of our books were both very different from the other, our mutual goal of writing and publishing a book kept us on track all throughout the year.
I’m telling you all of this, not only for my own accountability, but to encourage you in your own goal setting this year. What are some of the things God has put on your heart for the coming year? What would you like to change, improve, or see different, if you could change and envision one or two (or ten or fifteen) things by the end of the year? Regardless of how you fared on last year’s goals, today is a new day. This year is a new year. Perhaps part of your answer to achieving your goals this year is contained in something I’ve shared here today already:
1) Go ahead and dream. Envision yourself one year from now and what you would hope would be different in your life. This is not a pipe dream. This is essential to moving you forward. As the Bible says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).
2) Believe you can do it. This doesn’t have to be just positive “self talk.” Run your ideas past God and past others. Let them speak into your life to help give you a boost in your confidence, like I received from my daughter when I shared with her my desire to write an incredible song. If God has put a desire on your heart, trust Him to help you carry it through to completion. As the Apostle Paul said in the Bible: “I thank my God every time I remember you… being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:1, 6).
3) Enlist someone to walk with you towards achieving your goal. Whether you ask a friend, a mentor, a pastor, a small group leader, a cousin, a relative, your parents, or your children, pick one or two or three other people with whom you can talk about your goals and walk with you towards achieving them on a regular basis throughout the year. They will be honored, and you will increase your chance of success exponentially. As King Solomon wrote: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up… A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10a, 12b).
Go ahead and dream. Believe you can do it. And enlist someone to walk with you towards achieving your goal. You can do what God has put on your heart to do. You were created to do good works here on earth. And God would love to help you do those good works. As the Bible says: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
You can do it! I know you can!
P.S. I borrowed the title of today’s message from my daughter, Makari, who also wrote a message this week about goal-setting on her own blog. Makari brought out several great points about achieving your goals, and about not leaving anything behind in your “old year” that God may still want you to work on or work through in your “new year.” Click here to read Makari’s New Year’s post on her website.
And speaking of Makari, here are a few parting shots of her and me from our trip to Turkey last year. I’d like to publicly thank her for encouraging me to go ahead and take this trip when I didn’t think I could do it (having wanted to go there with my wife several years ago, but we were never able to get there before she passed away). Makari encouraged me to still go, and said that she would be glad to come with me if I didn’t want to go alone. It was just the boost I needed and we had a terrific trip (plus we learned much more about the life of St. Nicholas and the land where he lived and ministered back in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D.).
In the pictures below, we’re inside the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, inside the St. Nicholas Church in Demre (Myra), and outside at a cafe near the St. Nicholas Church, where we enjoyed some of Turkey’s fabulous food and our first cups of Turkish coffee! Thanks Makari!
And here’s a final goodbye from our flight home…
(If you missed our St. Nicholas story, you can still read the entire book online from the beginning at this link, or get a copy in paperback, eBook or audiobook as a gift for yourself or others in our online bookstore.)