Why You Need A Vision And Not A Resolution

I remember my first New Year’s Resolution. I was in fourth grade and our teacher asked us to make a resolution. She said that if we kept to our resolution for two weeks it would become a habit. I committed to shoot baskets for fifteen minutes everyday. That year, I kept it up until the end of my basketball season and by the time I was in seventh grade, I was shooting baskets almost year around.

This experience showed me the power of one simple goal and how it can change your life. I responded to my teacher’s challenge because setting goals, sticking to commitments, and being schedule oriented fits my personality. I border a little on obsessive compulsive but many people are not this way. If you hate making lists and appreciate spontaneity and variety more than me how can you make the most of an honest desire to improve something in your life? You need a vision and not a goal.

Goals are specific and detailed, visions are broad and demonstrate a finished product. I can commit to pray for five minutes, five days a week but that in itself will not get me to my vision which is to become a more Christlike person. If I envision myself being more loving, willing to serve others, and experiencing deeper, richer moments with God than that vision starts to shape my entire day not just the five minutes I spend in prayer. If I am truly captured by my vision, than the day has endless possibilities for growth and dedication to God. I start to ask myself over and over, will this next choice I make get me closer to my vision of being more like Christ?

Have you let the yearly trend of setting resolutions influence you to take on an activity that in a few weeks will seem silly and lacking urgency? Then why not skip the resolutions and choose a vision instead? Imagine if God’s people chose the vision of becoming more like Christ in 2012? Wouldn’t the result be much more powerful than God’s people choosing some spiritual activity that only seems to be completed for the sake of completing it?

Join me in 2012 in becoming more like Christ. This will look different for each one of us but if our vision is captured by the possibility of the radical change that Christ can accomplish in our life, we will stop at nothing at making it a reality.

The Reliable VIM

From 2002-2006, my wife and I did intense work at an inner city ministry. Leah ran the kitchen and I volunteered with various ministries and efforts. One thing that I tried to do was meet with some of the men who had recently become followers of Christ. We tried to meet a couple of times a month to read scripture and learn more about what it means to follow Jesus. As so often happens, our meetings kind of fizzled out and we were not meeting regularly. A few months later, one of the guys, who I had not seen in several months, came back around and reminded me of some of the things that he learned from our small group. This guy was barely literate but the one thing that he remembered was the VIM pattern of change.

VIM is an acronym created by Dallas Willard in his book, Renovation of the Heart. V stands for Vision, I stands for Intention, and M stands for Means. Willard calls this a “reliable pattern of change” that can be found in virtually all successful programs working on changing patterns of behavior such as AA or Weight Watchers. I have used VIM in changes involving fitness, career, and spiritual matters.

In order for individuals to change they must have a Vision for what their life will look like when the change becomes a reality. You must see yourself a an ex-smoker or a Spanish speaker or a 5K runner. Next, the individual must Intentionally decide that this change is so important to them that they will do everything they can to make it become a reality. This isn’t a wish for change but a conscious decision to make it happen. Finally, the individual finds the Means to turn their vision into reality. These means can include books, classes, support groups, exercises, journaling, etc. Whatever is used to cultivate the vision is considered a means.

Maybe you have started a Spiritual Enrichment Workout or a New Year’s resolution involving scripture reading or prayer. Perhaps you would like to start a new ministry or small group at your church. By implementing the VIM pattern, you will have the best pathway to achieving your goals.

One last note of warning, the most important aspect of the pattern may be the Intention. We all can see ourselves changed and are well aware of the means that are out there for achieving the change but until you have made a firm decision that your changed self is worth pursuing then the means will do you no good. I can think back in my own life when efforts to change failed and point to a lack of intention as the culprit.

Try out the VIM pattern and see if it helps you move your vague notions of change into improved patterns of behavior.