New year of­fers clean slate

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - RAY MCCAULEY

Pas­tor Ray McCauley is the pres­i­dent of Rhema Fam­ily Churches and co-chair­man of the Na­tional Re­li­gious Lead­ers Coun­cil

IT IS the be­gin­ning of the year, and the one com­mon thing around this time are New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. We all make them, and they range from shed­ding a few ki­los, to be­ing a bet­ter hus­band or wife, to do­ing well in our stud­ies, to be­com­ing more spir­i­tual.

There is some­thing I like about this an­nual rit­ual. For­get the fact that some of th­ese res­o­lu­tions are bro­ken no sooner than they are made. Let us con­sider what re­ally lies be­hind th­ese res­o­lu­tions.

I be­lieve that at the core of the res­o­lu­tions is the de­sire by each of us to be a bet­ter per­son. Through­out my life, I have never come across a per­son whose New Year’s res­o­lu­tion is to regress in life. Th­ese res­o­lu­tions are al­ways about do­ing bet­ter or be­ing bet­ter.

Some­how, it is in­nate in us to want to be bet­ter than what we are today and to have more than what we have at present.

This says to me that we all know we were des­tined to be greater than what we are. All we need is the dis­ci­pline to keep to the res­o­lu­tions we make and to fol­low them up with the req­ui­site ac­tions. For ex­am­ple, you can’t lose ki­los if you overeat and don’t ex­er­cise.

Se­condly, we make New Year’s res­o­lu­tions be­cause we know deep down that we fall short. And with this comes a sense of guilt. This in it­self is a pow­er­ful prin­ci­ple, both phys­i­cally and spir­i­tu­ally.

Guilt in and of it­self is not bad. I know this goes against today’s cul­ture where peo­ple are en­cour­aged to do and be­have in any way with­out feel­ing guilty. But one can never im­prove one’s con­di­tion un­til there is a re­al­i­sa­tion about one’s cur­rent in­ad­e­quacy.

Al­co­holics, on their way to re­cov­ery, are taught to first ac­knowl­edge they have a prob­lem. They must see that they fall short of what they ought to be.

In churches, we teach peo­ple to re­pent when they have com­mit­ted sin. Re­pen­tance can­not take place if it is not pre­ceded by a guilt and a re­al­i­sa­tion that one has fallen short of God’s stan­dards.

To the ex­tent that New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are an ac­knowl­edge­ment that there are ar­eas in our lives where we have fallen short, we should wel­come them.

New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are also about sec­ond chances. We all de­serve a sec­ond chance.

Some of our last year’s res­o­lu­tions might not have ma­te­ri­alised but we have an­other op­por­tu­nity this year to try to make them work.

Many suc­cess­ful peo­ple in life didn’t make it af­ter the first go. Some failed a cou­ple of times be­fore they achieved their break­through.

Such is life. The test of life is a mul­ti­part exam and re­minds us never to give up on our­selves. God doesn’t.

To the stu­dent who didn’t make it last year, you have an­other op­por­tu­nity this year to work harder. Pick your­self up and give it an­other try. To the ath­lete who didn’t get the de­sired medal, 2017 beck­ons and is giv­ing you an­other chance. Even as a coun­try, there are ar­eas in which we slipped up and fell last year.

Pol­i­cy­mak­ers and those who gov­ern us have an­other op­por­tu­nity this year to make right what went wrong last year. I im­plore them not to squan­der the op­por­tu­ni­ties the year pro­vides.

Lastly, New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are about the de­sire to put the past be­hind us. Hu­man be­ings are not wired to tie weights to their an­kles. That slows us down. We are de­signed to move on – that is why our eyes look­ing ahead, not back­wards.

We make new res­o­lu­tions be­cause we want to move for­ward. How­ever, you can’t move for­ward while you have one foot on the brakes. Re­lease the past year’s hurts and dis­ap­point­ments.

The en­ergy it takes to hang on to the past will hold you back from achiev­ing what you can in 2017.

And that holds true for in­di­vid­u­als, or­gan­i­sa­tions and na­tions.

I am pos­i­tive and filled with hope that this year will be a bet­ter one for South Africa than 2016 was.

Let us have great ex­pec­ta­tion and work to­gether to en­sure that it is.

As a na­tion we must never lose hope that our econ­omy will grow, more jobs will be cre­ated, cor­rup­tion will be rooted out and the govern­ment will do things bet­ter this year.

Wish­ing you and our coun­try a blessed and pros­per­ous 2017.

Pas­tor Ray McCauley is pres­i­dent of the Rhema fam­ily churches and co-chair­per­son of the Na­tional Re­li­gious Lead­ers Coun­cil

Par­tic­i­pants of the New Year’s dip race to­wards a lake on the North Sea beach of Burhave in Ger­many. More than 170 swim­mers brace them­selves to take the chill­ing dip to usher in the new year.

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