Written by Arek O’Connel
I’ve never successfully completed a New Year’s resolution, true story. The first time I heard about a New Year’s resolution I was in second grade in Mrs. Simon’s class. We each had to choose and share a resolution for 1998. I don’t think I understood the nature of resolutions very well because my first goal was to grow two feet. That failed resolution set the tone and expectation for all of the rest of the years that followed where I inevitably failed to reach, complete, or be faithful to my resolution. I can only hope and pray that I’m not alone in this struggle. I know that I can often times be someone who lacks consistency and discipline (trust me I’ve tried to fix that with a resolution before), but for the most part, the failed New Year’s resolution is a thing right?
None of us like to celebrate our failures, whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or something else. We love to post to our social media pages when we’ve reached a milestone, gotten a promotion at work, received an awesome gift, or have completed an impressive task. I’ve yet to see the selfie with a defeated face with the caption “I tried my hardest, but failed.” We fear failure, we run away from it whenever we’re given the chance. Heck, even when we’re asked to list weaknesses at a job interview, we use it as an opportunity to list how we’re too committed, too passionate, etc. So if you’re like me, you’ve stopped making New Year’s resolutions because you don’t want to set yourself up for what will be inevitable failure. But I’m going to give it another shot this year.
This year my New Year’s resolution is to embrace failure when it comes. This year, I don’t want to hide my weaknesses. If I get brave enough I might even post that selfie I was talking about earlier. You may ask “why?” Why willingly and pre-emptively embrace, maybe even celebrate, failure?
It’s because I desire to see God’s power at work in my life and ministry.
One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is 2 Corinthians 4:7 which reads, “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” I love this verse because it reveals our nature before a perfect, holy, and powerful God. The treasure that the Apostle Paul is referring to in this verse is the Holy Spirit. Paul is saying that God places His Spirit in jars of clay. Now, we might not think much of this at first glance, but when we consider how fragile and unimpressive clay is, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why would God place such a valuable treasure in something that breaks so easily? Why not place it in a bulletproof case or a steel box? Why not place it in something that’s prettier to look at? It’s because we need a constant reminder of who the powerful one is.
Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone, but one of the reasons I made New Year’s resolutions in the first place was to show myself and others that I was capable of doing something extraordinary. By my will power alone, I could have changed an unhealthy habit of mine. By working harder than someone else, I had the power to achieve something great and showcase it. I wanted to complete New Year’s resolutions because I wanted people to look at me and be impressed.
As the years have gone by though, my desire has shifted. I want people to see the ways that God has changed me. I want people to see any transformation that has occurred in my life and point directly to God. I’m so thankful that God created me as a jar of clay and not a steel box, because no one can ever be fooled by who directs and guides my life. The Apostle Paul knew this as well. Later on in 2 Corinthians 12 he describes a conversation that he had with God. Throughout Paul’s ministry he dealt with some type of disability. We don’t know what it was exactly, but we know that Paul begged for God to make him less clay like. And God’s response to Paul is the foundation and reason for my New Year’s resolution for 2019. God tells Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (vs. 9). God’s power is made perfect in our weakness… If this is true, which I believe it is whole-heartedly, then why would we ever runaway from or fear weakness?
I want to be very clear, I am not saying to go out and intentionally do something that causes you to fail and be weak on purpose.
Don’t commit yourself to a life of failure for failure’s sake. Make goals, dream big, be a doer of the word, commit to putting your faith in action, make a New Year’s resolution. Just because God’s power is made perfect in weakness doesn’t mean we can’t ever seek to be successful. However, when failure inevitably comes and when weakness visits your home, don’t fear it or run away from it. Welcome it as a dear friend and join the Apostle Paul in saying “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
This year, dare to see how God might exhibit His strength in the presence of your weaknesses and failures.