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Looking back and looking forward to a new year

Socrates is often quoted as having said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This might be a bit of a stretch, and some even question whether Socrates ever said it, but someone obviously said it, as we still quote it today.

However, I do believe that it’s safe to say that an examined life stands a better chance of succeeding in significant ways as opposed to a life which is never examined evaluated or reflected upon.

In 1st Corinthians 11:28 Paul says, "Let a person examine himself." Though this specifically refers to taking communion, I belive that there is a general principle that can be applied; that of self-examination from time to time.

The end of a year can be such a time as one can both look back over the previous year and look forward to the coming year.

Every year in late December I take some time to both look back and to look ahead. It’s okay to use the past as a guidepost, but not as a hitching post.  I don’t want the past to hold me back but to point me forward through lessons learned as I reflect on what happened or didn’t happen, and plan for the next year. I did that on, December 27, 2018.

I love what Paul also says in Philippians 3:10-14 (ESV):

That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is learning from the past, but not living in the past. With great energy, and Jesus-empowered resolve, he is pressing into what lies before him as he desires increasing maturity in Jesus.

With these thoughts in mind, here are some questions we can all ask ourselves as 2018 comes to a close, as we reflect on this past year and lean into 2019 which is just around the corner.

What is the greatest lesson you learned this past year that you never want to forget?

How might you have behaved or acted differently this past year if you could do it over again?

Looking back over the year, what did you set out to do that you didn’t do and why?

What key discipline did you live out this past year that had a significant impact on your life? What was the impact? 

What are you most thankful for from this past year?

What were the key surprises (good or bad) that happened this past year?

Which relationships in your life grew this year and which regressed?

If you could go back to the beginning of this year, (2018)  what piece of advice would you give yourself and why?

Looking back, what was the overarching theme for 2018?

What are you praying about and trusting the Lord for in this coming year?

If God were to come to you in a dream as he did to Solomon (1st Kings 3:5 and ask you what you want for this next year, how would you answer him?

Please don't just read these probing quesitons, but take a good block of time to carefully and prayerfully respond to them.

How about taking a day (or at least a few hours of a day) before January 1, 2019 to look back and look forward.

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