We make them every January. We see students make them after every camp. And more times than not…we see them fail.
Want to know why they fail?
For years I worked at a YMCA running teen after school programs, camps, and serving as a Middle School Teen Director. It never failed that beginning January 1st, I would have to park in the next zip code. Everyone had made their resolutions to get healthy, lose weight, work out more, etc.
Three weeks later, I was parking back in my usual spot by the Teen Center, and all was back to what it had been prior. Yeah…three weeks. But why?
All of those people were well-intentioned. They all recognized the need for real change in their lives. They were intent on making it happen.
For many, those same commitments had been made before. In the end however, they arrived in the same place.
Have you ever been there?
Now feeling like a failure for not keeping your commitment. Now feeling guilty for quitting. Now feeling shame for still needing to make the changes you were so committed to.
I’ve been there. I’m sure we all have.
We have also watched students do the same with their lives. They recognize the need for change in their lives. They recognize the need for priority shifts. They make strong commitments to change when they arrive back home.
But three weeks later it is business as usual. This time however they are feeling like a failure, feeling more guilty, and still feeling the shame that was behind the commitment in the first place.
Why do these commitments fail?
More specifically the lack of margin. The page of our lives is filled from top to bottom and edge to edge. We run such a crazy and exhausting pace there is no room for margin.
Making a decision to “add” something else different to our already crazy pace is ridiculous. There is no room for “new” commitments, rededications, or resolutions.
Maybe the saddest part of all is that we are too often guilty of setting our students up for failure. Many times we fail to encourage students to remove something so they can replace it with something more worthy.
We spend much of our time telling them to “read their Bibles more,” “share Jesus more,” or “come to church more.” We seem to always be asking for more when perhaps what they really need is to be challenged for less.
Is this not the picture of true repentance after all? Turning away from our sin and to Jesus. Are we not to embrace what is more worthy in place of what is less?
If you want to keep your resolutions, fight for margin…don’t add more to your already full plate. Go farther still and challenge your students to do more by doing less.