New year offers clean slate
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.