As the calendar counts down ever faster to 2012, you may be wondering what kind of New Year's resolutions you should make. In his best-selling book You Can Change the World, The Christophers' founder, Father James Keller, had some ideas you might want to consider. Though they weren't specifically resolutions (he called them "Reminders for a Christopher"), they're ideal to think about at this time of year because they'll result in both a better you and a better world.
Father Keller's first piece of advice was: "Depend more on God, less on self. All of us should pray as if all depended on God and should work as if everything depended on ourselves . . . The more we realize our strength is rooted in God, the more we will acquire, and be inspired by, an exhilarating assurance that nothing can daunt us."
Another of Father Keller's central beliefs was: "Aim to serve, not to be served." He goes on to quote American drama critic and author John Mason Brown, whose statement about living a selfless life resonated with him. Brown wrote:
No one, I am convinced, can be happy who lives only for himself. The joy of living comes from immersion in something that we know to be bigger, better, more enduring and worthier than we are. People, ideas, causes—these offer the one possible escape not merely from selfishness but from the hungers of solitude and the sorrows of aimlessness.
Since the concept of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness was always at the forefront of Father Keller's thoughts, he also suggested looking for the best in others even when it's easier to see the worst. He wrote:
There's a bit of nobility in the worst of human beings because all are made in God's image and that image can never be completely lost. Never write anybody off! There's always hope! Even the man who has decided to have nothing whatever to do with God isn't frozen in that state of mind. Deep in the very roots of his being, and just because he is created in the Divine Image, there is an ever-present tug toward God. It is the privilege of Christophers to help him become aware of this tremendous tug. For this very reason . . . Christophers can honestly say to anyone, "There is a lot of good in you!"
Finally—and this may be the hardest resolution of all—Father Keller said, "Don't flee suffering; use it." A perfect illustration of this principle comes from The Christophers' new Three Minutes a Day book, which provides stories and reflections for each day of the year. One of them is about U.S. Army Sgt. J.D. Williams, who stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Kandahar Province of southern Afghanistan. According to Sgt. Williams, the blast launched him 20 feet in the air and left a 6-foot crater in the ground.
At a hospital in Germany, the young soldier found out that he would need to have his right arm and both legs amputated. After his surgeries, Sgt. Williams was sent to an Army medical center in Texas to recover. Throughout his recovery, Sgt. Williams expressed thanks that he stepped on the IED himself instead of one of his fellow soldiers. He believes he is a lucky man and has said, "I really think God has a purpose for me on this planet. I will find it, whatever it is."
Whatever resolutions you choose for the coming year, all of us at The Christophers wish you the blessing of a happy and healthy 2012.
For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, LIVING THE GOLDEN RULE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: email@example.com.