Since it was New Year’s Eve last night, Brianna and I were up LATE.

Ten o’clock baby!

Just like Charlie Sheen.

Even so, I managed to slip away this morning to scratch out some hopes for the new year.

“Pick a word.”

That was the advice I got recently on how to structure an alternative to New Year’s “resolutions.” But since I preach, I somehow ended up with three words (is that better than three points?)—each connecting with a different area of my day-to-day existence: (1) marriage, (2) kids, and (3) teaching.

Here they are:

  1. Gifts (marriage)

As Brianna knows, I am terrible at presents.

It’s not my (*promised I would never blog this phrase…) “love language.”

In fact, I usually prefer that people give me an Amazon gift card for Christmas–like the magi should have done.

Even so, I’m aspiring this year to become a more frequent gift-giver, and specifically as a husband.

After all, Brianna deserves more than that just for putting up with me.

  1. Softer (kids)

I’m not typically a “yeller”—but having four kids under the age of seven could turn even Mother Theresa into parental parody of Bobby Knight (sans chair-chucking, of course).

That said, I want to work, this year, on disciplining the little ones without raising my voice so quickly.

Hence: “softer.”

Of course, some occasions almost require a good “bellow” if only to be heard above the scrum.  Still, I’ve been distressed to notice how my own propensity to raise my voice unnecessarily has “caught on” with my kids—and they don’t need any help in that department.

  1. Monastic (teaching)

Admittedly, few words may seem less “evangelical” than this one.

To be “monastic” evokes images of cloistered celibates in brown cassocks, chanting Gregorian-ly.

But that’s not what I mean (see points 1 and 2 regarding celibacy).

By monastic, I mean the need to reconnect my work to the embodied practices of prayer and worship. Ora et labora.

In doing some reading this Christmas break (James K. A. Smith specifically), I’ve been convinced that Christian higher education has often failed in this regard.

In many cases, the alternative has been a kind of slightly altered Cartesianism that replaces Cogito ergo sum with Credo ergo sum (I believe therefore I am).

But even demons believe.

In my own teaching, I sense that “information” has sometimes replaced “formation.” And in other instances, a posture of prayerful-worshipful study has been supplanted by a posture of detached analysis (or worse).

To be clear, I have no plans to jettison exams, critique, or careful analysis.  Still I do want to shift the posture of my classes just a bit in reconnecting work to prayer and worship.

CONCLUSION

I may fail terribly at all this.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

But as I said yesterday in a sermon, one thing I respect about still having some sort of New Year’s “word” or “resolution”—is that it shows you haven’t entirely given up on the idea that change is possible.

The status quo is not eternal.

The Spirit still broods and habits can evolve, if only through grace-driven effort.

So what about you?

Do you have a word (or words) for 2018?

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