by Bruce M. Burkett
How to Prepare for a New Year
“Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” (Proverbs 24:27)
The final days of the year are some of my favorite — they always have been. There are many reasons that this is the case, including Christmas and extra time with family. But, more recently, this time of the year has become one of my favorites because I have found it to be a time of reflection and preparation for the new year.
The thought of a new year prompts each one of us to consider new goals. None of us desire to be stagnant or to backslide. It is safe to say that we each aspire to grow more and do more for our Lord.
Christians have been given the greatest reason for living in the world. Yet, we so often live as the most directionless people. Many of us live without any contemplation about the direction God wants us to go in life or how He intends to help us get there.
As we enter into a new year, God has some insight as to how we can properly prepare ourselves to follow His direction in the new year.
Let’s consider three ways we may prepare for the new year.
Prepare with a Purpose
First, the Bible tells us to “Prepare thy work without” (v.27a). Before we set forth to perform the work God has for us in the new year, we must contemplate the purpose behind why we are doing what we are doing.
Notice how Scripture tells us to take advantage of the power of purpose.
- It is something you must plan to do.
The first word of our text simply tells us to “prepare.” It is not something that will just happen. You must intentionally make time to do it. Set time to pray and seek God’s mission for your life. Write it out how you can begin to accomplish that mission in the new year. Let Him change and align your direction to His.
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6)
- It is something you must personally do.
Notice what we are told to plan for is “thy work” (v.27). God has something that He has created you to do specifically for Him. We too often live so consumed with what we are doing that we never actually factor in what God has in mind for us to do. (See James 4:13-15.) Prepare with your personal mission for God in mind — His work for you.
- It is something you must privately do.
An important word of instruction is given when we are told to do all of these things “without” (v.27). Remember, this is a private matter. Determining the personal mission God has for your life is something that you must spend some time alone to figure out.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)
Take some time to think about the day of your funeral. Many things that you allow to consume your time today won’t matter then. The things that do matter are the things that you’ll wish you had done more of.
Preparing the purpose of your life today will enable you to get to the end of your life having accomplished the things that matter most in life.
Prepare with a Plan
After our purpose is established, we are told to “make it fit for thyself in the field” (v.27b). If we will accomplish God’s purpose for our lives, we must establish a plan to enable us to do so. As God’s people, we must allow God’s purpose to determine our plan.
So, the Scripture gives to us some steps to setting a purposed plan.
- Have a pertinent plan.
The Bible simply tells us we must “make it fit” (v.27). Very simply, the plan we establish must fit within the purpose God has given to us. Anything outside of God’s purpose must be done away with.
- Have a personal plan.
Notice, our priorities are “for thyself” (v.27). The plan you set has to be for you. The goals you set must be ones that work for you. No two people in this world are exactly alike, so do not adopt a plan from someone else — it won’t work for you! Let God develop one that fits you.
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Psalm 32:8)
- Have a practical plan.
As we determine our priorities, we must keep in mind that they are to be exercised “in the field” (v.27). The plan must be realistic and reasonable. In other words, the plan you set has to be more than something that looks good on paper; it has to be something you can actually accomplish.
Prepare for a Performance
With our purpose established, and a plan set to accomplish that purpose, then we are instructed to “afterwards build thine house” (v.27).
It has wisely been said, “Plan you work, and work your plan.” When you determine your purpose and you set your plan, it is actually rather enjoyable when it actually comes time to performing it all.
We oftentimes ascribe all the glory to great performances. For example, when our sports team performs well, we celebrate it. But, we do not realize that the reason for any great performance is the preparation that was invested into it.
Another man once said, “Greatness is not in the performance, but in the preparation.” The fact of the matter is, when you have prepared to do what God has given you to do, when it comes time to do it, there is pleasure in doing it.
Time invested now in understanding your purpose in life and planning out the fulfillment of that purpose in the coming year will put you into a position of being able to actually enjoy doing what you know God has led you to do with your life. Living for God is rather enjoyable when you are doing it in conjunction with the One who makes life worth living.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)