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21 Questions for A New Year

From time to time, we all need to step back and evaluate. Our lives are often busy and hectic, so we can sometimes move from one crazy season to the next without giving attention to our life rhythms or the direction we are moving. There are several encouragements or commands in the Bible that teach us to intentionally evaluate our lives.

“Consider your ways.” - Haggai 1:5
When the people of God had wandered in their relationship with Him, God rebuked them through the prophet Haggai, telling them to consider their ways.

“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. - 1 Timothy 4:16
The apostle Paul told Timothy to keep a close watch on himself. I believe all of us would be wise to heed that command.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” - 1 Pe 5:8.
Peter tells Christians to be sober-minded and watchful. We are more easily devoured and led astray by our enemy when we are not considering our ways or our adversary’s ways.

I know people that love new year’s resolutions (and some that despise them), while some prefer to choose a word or a theme for the new year. I’ve done each of these and have benefitted from them. However, what has been most helpful for me is to have a rhythm of evaluating my life, and the new year provides a great time for that. My current rhythm is doing an evaluation around the new year and in June/July.

I want to share some questions that have been helpful in this rhythm. I’ve changed them over the years and constantly tweak them. My hope is that if you do not have a rhythm of considering your ways, this may provide a starting place. I’d encourage you to set aside a half day or even two hours to prayerfully consider the following questions.

1. In what ways have I grown or become more healthy over the last year? 
It is important to reflect on wins and growth, which often leads to prayers of thanksgiving.

2. Which area of health do I most need to prioritize? 
Spiritual health, emotional or mental health, physical health, financial health, relational health (marriage, parenting, friends, family)? These areas have overlap and impact each other, but it has been helpful for me to have categories to think through.

3. What’s one thing we could change that would improve our family life? 
What are areas of frustration? What's robbing your family joy?

4. What conversations do I want or need to start with my child based on their current age and level of development? 
Conversations about pornography, puberty, sex, gender issues, dating and relationships, financial stewardship? I'd rather these topics be ongoing conversations in the home rather than becoming off-limits topics. Our kids will learn about these issues, and I'd prefer their first exposure be from parents or church rather than from the internet or peers.

5. On which spiritual discipline do I most want to make progress? 
Bible reading, in-depth bible study, scripture memory and meditation, fasting, prayer, consistently gathering with the church in larger and smaller groups, evangelism, serving, giving, silence and solitude, rest and sabbath? Remember, excelling in the disciplines do not make God love you more, but they do help you to experience His love and love Him more fully. 

6. What is a helpful new way I can strengthen my church? 
How can your church be stronger and healthier because you participate? Some ways may require increased time or resources, which you may have. However, some ideas will only require courage and intentionality. For example, you may decide to be intentional about meeting someone new each time the church gathers.

7. What’s one way I can bless those who minister to me? 
I only have 8 years of pastoral experience, but I can tell you that most pastors and ministry leaders receive complaints, advice, and criticism rather frequently. I’ve known of several pastors who have resigned or come close to resigning over the last few years, not because they sensed a change in their calling, but because of burnout or just wanting to be done. What is one specific way you can intentionally build up your pastors, ministry leaders, community group leaders and hosts, or anyone else who ministers to you?

8. What is my most important financial goal, and what is the most important step I can take towards meeting it? 
Does it have to do with budgeting, reducing debt, giving to your church, saving for something important, or pursuing an additional income source? Considering this question a few years ago led my wife and I to begin saving a little each month so we will be able, Lord willing, to take each of our kids on a one-on-one trip around their 13th birthday. If you’d like some help thinking through a financial issue, don’t forget about Sojourn’s financial coaching ministry (

9. Has my income changed? If so, how will it impact my giving to my church and other gospel causes?
An increase in income may not be to improve only your standard of living, but it could be to increase your standard of giving as well.

10. Is there any unresolved conflict in my life? If so, have I truly done everything I can do to be at peace?
The scriptures have a lot to say about conflict (Matthew 5:21-26; Matthew 18:15-20; Romans 12:14-21). Many of us are quite conflict avoidant, so we need to make intentional decisions to engage in healthy ways rather than subconsciously “sweeping it under the rug”.

11. What skill do I most want to learn or improve in this year?
It may be a hobby or something related to your work.

12. What one biblical doctrine do I most desire to understand better by the end of this year, and what can I do about it?
There may be many, but picking one to begin studying may be the best way to get started. In the past I've chosen spiritual gifts, God's love, and others that have helped me to choose what to read and study.

13. What one thing could I do to most improve my prayer life this year?
It may be having a designated time and place to pray rather than only praying on the go. For some, learning to pray scripture may be a great step. If you haven’t been attending your church’s corporate prayer meetings, which we call Encounter at Sojourn, that’s a great place to start.

14. What’s a prayer I want to consistently pray in this next season that is impossible unless God does it?
Over and over in the scriptures we see the phrase "but God ...". Nothing is impossible with God!

15. What is the biggest time-waster in my life right now, and how do I desire to change in this area?
Don’t only think about what you will quit doing, but also consider what you will be able to do with the time you free up. Be aware that escape and rest are not the same. Also, true refueling rest is not a time-wasting activity, but compulsive escaping activities normally are.

16. What area of my life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way I can simplify that area?
I want to intentionally promote my core values by removing what distracts me from those values. The long marathon of simplifying your life begins with the first step. What might that step be?

17. What am I doing that I can stop doing so that I can devote more time, money, and attention towards the things that matter most? What is my family doing that we should stop doing?
Again, discontinuing something allows us to give more to what matters most.

18. What’s one thing I can begin doing this year that will matter the most in 10 years? In eternity?
Considering this question years back led me to start scheduling focused one-on-one time with one of my kids once per month. Not only is it a highlight of my month, but I am hopeful it will be an investment that bears fruit for decades to come. Let’s not let the tyranny of the urgent cause us to neglect practices that could have great long-term impact.

19. What habit would I most like to establish this year?
What action, if it became ingrained into your daily, weekly, or monthly routine, would increase your joy and bless those around you?

20. What is the most important decision I need to make?
Is there a decision you are not being forced to make, but it would be wise to make? This decision may or may not be connected to something you considered from a previous question.

21. What is the most significant way I hope this year is different from last year, and what is my part to play in making it different? 
Much of what happens is out of our control, but our prayers, decisions, plans, and pursuits matter.

For most of us, focusing on only a few things is more effective than trying to do everything, so don’t think that you must implement something from each of these questions. I’d encourage you to consider and pray about one or a few things that you can seek to implement to move in a healthy direction. For this reason, the last several questions seek to help narrow focus to what seems most important. May the Holy Spirit gives you wisdom and discernment as you consider.

If these questions were helpful, I hope you will return to them on a regular basis. Most of the questions are not original to me. Feel free to throw away the questions that don’t seem helpful and tweak or keep the ones that do. May the Lord help us to live joyful and intentional lives that bless our families, our churches, and the world around us as we seek to consider our ways.

* Many of the origins of these thoughts and questions were from Don Whitney’s articles entitled “10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year” and “Ten (More) Questions for a New Year”.


Kathy - December 31st, 2022 at 11:39am

Thank you for for a steering wheel for the new year.

Christina - December 31st, 2022 at 12:21pm

Thank you for sharing this. Intentionality is something I want to work on this year, so this is a great help to get me started.

Amanda Scott - July 16th, 2024 at 4:49am

I almost feel like I found a few pearls this morning! I am not one who loves change (like a new app!) though it is surely one constant in life. These are powerful questions for reflection and life goals!