rebelling against low expectations

Blowing Dust Off Last Year’s Resolutions


New Year's Resolutions

As we enter the New Year — a season of resolution making — we want to share a post Brett made at the start of 2006. How time flies. And please note, we’re both still working on these. Join us as we recommit to the fight.

Every time New Year’s Eve rolls around, I have this incredible urge to make resolutions. Fortunately, I’m not alone. Millions of people around the world view the New Year Holiday as an opportunity to throw off the disappointments and struggles of an old year and replace them with the possibilities and hopes of a new one.

This post, however, is dedicated to looking back. We’re going to blow the dust off my last year’s resolutions in hope that they might serve you in developing your own resolutions for 2006. Looking back at these resolutions fills me with gratitude and regret. There was victory and defeat for me in 2005 (more defeat than victory). But God was, is, and will always be faithful.

Important Disclaimers

  • The reason I write New Year’s Resolutions is because I believe God’s Word when it says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) You will see that my resolutions reflect a dependence on divine strength.
  • This list of resolutions is more exhaustive than most people’s. I decided to be thorough when I wrote them, and I was. This year, however, I don’t have to write so much. I’m still working on following these!
  • New Year’s is not the only time we can have the extraordinary feeling of leaving the past behind and starting with a clean slate. Such freedom is available every day, in much fuller measure, from Christ our Savior. His mercies are new every morning.
  • New Years is also not the only time we can resolve to make changes, and to improve ourselves. For Hebrews 3:13 tells us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Brett's Resolutions1.) I resolve to know only Christ and Him crucified. This means I am, in all things, dependent on Christ and the sacrifice He made for me. Therefore, I impose the following resolutions:

  • I resolve to begin every task with an acknowledgement of my weakness so that my “faith might not rest on [my own] wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:5)
  • I resolve to speak “as one speaking the very words of God,” and to serve “with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11)
  • I resolve to cultivate humility; acknowledging that neither eloquence nor superior reasoning, neither wise nor persuasive words can accomplish the Lord’s purposes. Only a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)
  • I resolve to continually remind myself of Psalm 16:2, “apart from [the Lord] I have no good thing.”

2.) I resolve to invest in my relationship with God as I would in the relationship of human friend; by increasing the time spent in conversation, by poring over His Word as I would over a letter from a close friend, and by thinking of Him when I am not otherwise engaged. In all these activities I remind myself that without Christ’s sacrifice I am unable to draw near to God.

3.) I resolve to draw closer to my family; knowing that the family is God’s ideal environment for the development of the fruits of the Spirit as well as the ability to communicate, empathize, and support. I recognize that in my preparation for marriage and family I will find no better field for practice than is provided by my parents and siblings, and that God has placed me under the authority of my father and mother for my good and His glory.

  • I resolve to obey my father and mother promptly and cheerfully. In this I practice obedience to my Heavenly Father and obtain His blessings. (Deuteronomy 5:16)
  • I resolve to set an example for my siblings in devotion to God, in industry, and in service.
  • In response to my siblings requests I resolve to say “yes” twice for every one “no”.
  • I resolve to maintain an “open-book” policy with regards to my parents; knowing that their wisdom will doubtless shed light on any situation I find myself in.
  • I resolve to cultivate a servant’s heart in regard to my family. Performing no less than one necessarily inconvenient, time-taking act of service daily for a member of my family.
  • In all these activities I remind myself that without Christ I can do nothing but with Him nothing is impossible. (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37, Luke 18:27)

4.) I resolve to subdue my body; knowing that “he who would see the face of the most powerful Wrestler, our boundless God, must first have wrestled with himself” (Arozco), and that I cannot give God my heart and keep my body for myself. (Discipline: The Glad Surrender, by Elisabeth Elliot)

  • I resolve to be faithful in physical exercise. Knowing that my body is the temple of God.
  • I resolve to be faithful in spiritual discipline. Knowing that “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) This discipline is of the heart and mind.
  • I resolve to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • I resolve to guard against my heart. Knowing that it is “deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • I resolve to be faithful in physical discipline. Gaining mastery over private vice and guarding against indulgence and sloth. For it is God’s will that “each person should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” (1 Thessalonians 4:4)
  • I resolve to maintain sleep habits that afford me adequate rest and that follow the adage, “early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
  • I resolve to maintain eating habits that nourish and sustain me. Careful not to develop tastes that are too high, rendering me hard to please, or tastes that are too low, rendering me tasteless.
  • In all these activities I rejoice that Christ’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

5.) I resolve to develop a teachable spirit and to accept correction with humility. (Proverbs 12:1, Proverbs 29:1)

6.) I resolve to inculcate diligence and industry in work and studies; knowing that I am in the season of preparation; that this season affords me the greatest convenience and ease in which to better myself; and that this season is passing quickly and will soon be gone.

  • I resolve to apply myself heart, soul, mind, and strength, to the curriculum and activities I have before me. Knowing that great blessing comes from doing the little things well and that “he who is faithful over a little will be set over much.” (Matthew 25:21, 23, Luke 19:17)
  • I resolve to put off childish things and become a man. Yet I also resolve to prevent manly duties of marriage and labor to distract me from my current season. In both ways I will endeavor to focus on the time at hand.
  • I resolve to set high-goals for myself. Despising wasted potential and could-have, should-have excuses.
  • In all these activities I persevere; knowing that what God requires He also provides.

7.) I resolve to be honorable in my interaction with my sisters in Christ. Respecting and appreciating their purity and innocence. Knowing that in our culture innocence isn’t retained by accident. (A Real Man, by Lori Hainline & Rebecca Chandler)

  • I resolve to know the value of a woman’s heart that I would not ask for it lightly.
  • I resolve to never arouse or awaken love until is so desires.
  • I resolve to ever act the gentleman. Cultivating the heart attitude of a servant and protector.

8.) I resolve to maintain order and cleanliness without just as within; knowing that both are necessary extensions of each other and that neither can exist apart from the sustenance of it’s counterpart.

  • I resolve to maintain a clean and orderly bedroom, bathroom, and working space.
  • I resolve to maintain a consistent schedule of exercise, study, and grooming.
  • In all these activities I submit my schedule to God’s reworking. (James 4:13-15)

9.) I resolve to strengthen my current friendships; making allowance for new bonds, but understanding that I am moving past the season of gathering and am entering the season of structuring. I have gathered my choice logs and now I am building the raft that will carry me through life’s storms.

  • I resolve to continue focusing on my male friendships while still investing in my female friendships; understanding the great insights and unique perspectives available from my sisters in Christ.
  • I resolve to spur my friends on to love and good deeds, to motivate them to know God in new ways, and to serve Him boldly. (Hebrews 10:24)

10.) I resolve to set an example and to be a leader.

  • I resolve to lead by example. (1 Timothy 4:12)
  • I resolve to lead as a servant. (Ephesians 5:25-28)
  • I resolve to lead others as I follow Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

These resolutions do not glorify me. I haven’t kept one of them consistently. When I wrote them I was reaching for the stars, not out of hope that I’d actually reach them, but certain that by trying I wouldn’t end up with a handful of mud. Alex and I challenge all of our readers to pursue holiness with the understanding that it will be a lifelong battle.

We’re fighting too.

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • […] Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’ s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever. – Always a joy to read on this day. – Also, you might enjoy this sermon from Spurgeon on New Year’s day. I’m also in the midst of reading “A New Year’s Benediction.“ – In addition, David Powlison has written a great post about New Year’s resolution’s here. and the Rebelution has their post up on their resolutions from 2006. […]

  • Thsnks so much for this post. Its realy easy to be discouraged ecspeacily whne I realize how much i’ve failed over the past year to do hard things, and glorify Christ in everything I do. Thank you for reminding me that Whitout Christ I can do nothing. What a blessing to remember as I enter the new year.

    Thanks so much.

  • “In response to my siblings requests I resolve to say “yes” twice for every one “no”.”

    That’s me! 🙁 Thanks so much for the encouraging post!

  • I really like this. It’s so inspiring. Most people come up with resolutions that are just about silly little changes that satisfy only us, and only for a little while. What this list is, is really about a whole lifestyle change, which we all need. I think I’ll print this out and put it on my ceiling with my other inspiring quotes. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Just one concern about writing New Year’s resolutions. How do you verify that you successfully fulfilled the resolution on December 31 2008? For example a few years back, I made a resolution to be a better sister to my siblings and to get in better shape. The problem with those resolutions is that they were completely subjective. Anyone, including me, could argue that I’m upholding or violating the resolution. Now, my resolutions are much more concrete. One of them is that I will never criticize my older brother even if it is valid. Another resolution is that I will run 4 miles every day. It’s very easy to tell when I’m violating these resolutions.

  • Wow. That was so inspiring and encouraging! Thank you so much for posting this. I am very blessed by it. 🙂

  • Although I have been negligent in writing down resolutions for this year, your post was encouraging, Brett. It was challenging to read your resolutions.. yet, with God, it’s not impossible!

    New Year’s resolutions often tempt me to create a list of things that *I* want to accomplish for *my* glory and benefit. This year one of the (very few!) resolutions I created was to be mindful of my complete insufficiency and need for dependence on God. It’s easy to develop an independent spirit, losing sight of my inadequacy! May we be ever mindful of His complete and all sufficient strength for our needs! =)

  • Switch every ‘she’ to a ‘he’, and my list is virtually the same. Thank you for sharing that! It helped me put everything in perspective!

  • Thank you so much for this post. New Years is one of my favorite holidays because of the incredible refreshing and renewing atmosphere it offers. A new year. A fresh start. A brand new beginning. I loved reading your resolutions. These are all incredible things to strive for this next year! I definitely will adapt some of these in with mine. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life with me!

  • Wow… I really need to make some of those decisions. I think that it’s always a lot easier to keep up with resolutions when you have someone to hold you accountable, so I think I’ll have to talk to a couple of friends. Thanks for the awesome post!

    P.S. Did Brett accomplish #6 part two? Or is he still working on it? 😛

  • How encouraging! I printed this out and shared it with the rest of the family during devotion time. The younger kids (16, 9, and 8 yr.olds) were very impressed, as were my parents. I agree with Sheila; switch every “he” to “she”, and it is pretty much my list as well 🙂 May God help us all as we seek for more of Him this year!

  • Ouch. Those are tough. Kind-of a blow to human nature. That is a good thing, but a very hard thing too. I read your list, and I’m like “yeah, right. I could never…” Oh me of little faith! Thank you, guys, for encouraging me to continue to press into righteousness.

    “In response to my siblings requests I resolve to say ‘yes’ twice for every one ‘no’.”

    I’ve resolved to do this on so many more days than just January 1. I’m going to keep resolving and trying!

    I don’t have access to the computer whenever I want, so if it’s okay with you, I might print your list out so I can read it whenever I like, whenever I need a reminder.

  • Thank you for the post. All the different scripture verses really helped me, particular 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” But I think the word “power” can be substituted with “holy word” “perfect, good and pleasing will” as well.

    This list of resolutions was the first of its kind that I’ve ever seen. I’m humbled and I give glory to God for realising how often my own aspirations of “doing better” focus on “I will do this… I will do that”. No wonder they fall through so often! But living a life centred around Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the only way.

  • Thanks guys! Its refreshing to see someone reach for the stars in their resolutions and ALSO admit that the point is not necessarily to get there in this lifetime. Missed you on TV today by two minutes, ugh.

  • My reselutions for last year was to get sufficient exercise and to read my bible every day. With the exception of a few busy days, I’m pretty sure I made my reselutions. This year, I am trying to listen more than talk. People notice a difference when you just are there for them. I am also trying to be more understanding towards my siblings when they are stressed, tired, and moody. That can be very trying sometimes, so I just hand it over to God!

  • I know this is late but i just had to leave a comment. When i got this update i read it kind of quickly and then….that last sentence caught my eye. We’re fighting too. Wow. It is so easy for me to get discouraged, to think nobody understands what i’m going through or that no youth in my area care about growing spiritually. So when i read that…i got tears in my eyes. Thanks so much.

  • I would encourage you young people not to put all your eggs in one basket. I was brought up in a church and subsequently left it. The aftermath was difficult because I had been putting so much store in my beliefs. It took me a long time to rebuild a sense of moral values, because they had been so entangled with the teachings of the church. While I would not wish to meddle with anyone else’s religious views, my advice is that a sense of self-reliance will keep you in better steady in the long run than surrendering to an external source of enlightenment.

  • It is the first time I have been in this page,..
    Guys, this is the time for us to shine (8) 🙂
    It´s awesome what God is putting in your hearts, everything I read in this page,
    makes click in my heart,makes sense in my spirit,
    is what God has been putting in our hearts this last time…
    I´m from Mexico, I hope someday you can bring what God has given to you,
    and do HARD THINGS together here in Mexico…
    I really meant it, I will like to be in touch!

  • Wow. Thankyou for hearing God’s voice and sharing with us. Your list is what I desire in my heart, to rise up and stand in the Spirit of God and on His Word, in all areas of my life. I pray that God would give you, and all who seek Him, strength, vision and a deeper revelation of His grace.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →