Three Reasons Why Fellowship Should Top Your List of Resolutions This Year

How are you going to change for the better this year?

That’s the question most people will give considerable thought to now that 2016 is behind us and 2017 has begun. Undoubtedly, many of us will go through the exercise of reviewing the person we were last year, envisioning who we want to become, and resolving ourselves to seeing that change in the new year.

The common theme to New Year’s resolutions is that they’re self-focused. They’re generally aimed at improving yourself or your circumstances. The oft heard of goals of getting in shape, landing that dream job, or achieving financial success are all a testimony to this reality. Even as Christians, the goals of daily spiritual discipline, godly leadership, and faithful stewardship are often boxed in this context.

None of this is necessarily a bad thing. God is glorified whenever we discipline our minds and bodies to produce greater holiness in our lives. However, if you’re considering resolutions for yourself or what you want to accomplish for the new year, let me suggest something radical to you: Maybe your resolutions need to focus on others rather than just yourself.

Maybe your resolutions need to focus on others rather than just yourself.

Because over this new year and for as long as we’re granted to see it, God is calling us to more than self-improvement. He’s calling us to improve the lives of others. Perhaps even to the extent that we help others accomplish their resolutions at the expense of our own.

And consider this: maybe the change we want to see happen this year will occur when we become more concerned with impacting the lives of others.

That’s, in effect, what I set out to accomplish last year and the vehicle I chose was quite simple: fellowship. With intentionality, I set out to meet with as many people as I could; both long-time friends and new acquaintances. Little did I know that an adventure in blessing others would turn out to be life-changing blessing for me. It brought me closer to the man God wants me to be in a way that doing things alone never could.

If you haven’t taken fellowship seriously in the past, then I would like you to consider the things that I’ve learned from the past year that will hopefully encourage you to take fellowship seriously as you set out to become closer to who God wants you to be over the next year.

God answers prayers through fellowship

What often drives us to prayer is the humbling reality that life is too difficult for us to bear on our own; an acknowledgment we need God’s help. However, we often hope the answers to our prayers will be an immediate change in circumstances.

Consider the hardship of a difficult trial. Instinctively, our reaction is to cry out for it to stop. Rarely is it the case that it does, and with good reason: God wants to produce the kind of fruit in our lives that comes about through hardship. So, perhaps the best expectation we could have for our prayers isn’t the alleviation of circumstances but rather the support and encouragement we need in order to persevere through it. This is what fellowship provides.

…perhaps the best expectation we could have for our prayers isn’t the alleviation of circumstances but rather the support and encouragement we need in order to persevere through it.

Remember, God often answers our prayers through the wisdom, counsel, and care of other faithful believers. Believers who’ve gone through many of our struggles and who are often tempted with the same things we find ourselves tempted with. If we’re willing to be vulnerable to them, their counsel can be one of the best answers to prayer because of one reassuring thought: you’re not the only one going through this.

If you find yourself in the throes of a circumstance, trial, or sin that you cannot seem to overcome on your own, then the answer to your prayer may be found in fellowship. It would be a shame if you were inhibiting one of God’s most powerful answers to your prayers.

People bless you and you get to bless others

The effects and benefits of fellowship aren’t a one-way street. Just as God answers some of our prayers through fellowship, you too can be the faithful answer to a prayer from someone else.

Fellowship isn’t just a matter of getting together. It’s about realizing that building relationships within the church are important. Communication, honesty, and reciprocity are what make for successful relationships so as people pour their time, energy, and wisdom in your life, you too will have the opportunity to pass that along to others.

…you too can be the faithful answer to a prayer from someone else.

Also, one unintended blessing that comes from fellowship is that you realize that your trials seem small in the light of what other people are going through. Meaningful fellowship gets you out of the myopic view of your own life. It reminds you that there are other people in the world who are hurting that God cares for just as much.

You can be the blessing they’re desperately needing.

Your spiritual growth directly reflects how seriously you take fellowship

One thing I learned through my year of fellowship is to distinguish the type of Christian that takes spiritual growth seriously. Spiritual maturity is like weight loss or getting in shape. It’s something all Christians want but very few take the necessary steps in order to achieve it.

Spiritual maturity and growth aren’t an accident. It doesn’t take place by God miraculously granting you a quality that you desire. It is born through the faithfulness of consistent discipline and intentionality. This means, if you’re consistently coming up with excuses to keep fellowship out of your life, then you are simply not growing spiritually. You don’t care for it. You desire to have it, but you don’t desire what God is placing in your life to attain it.

A spiritual life starved of the fellowship required to sustain itself is just like anything else that needs sustenance: it dies out.

This may sound like a harsh rebuke, but to be honest, it is. Many of the men that I’m blessed to have fellowship with have no lack of struggles in their lives. Some of those struggles I wouldn’t wish upon others and I’m thankful that by God’s grace, I don’t have to deal with them. But for all of the men who are struggling, the ones who are finding consistent growth in spite of it are those who are making fellowship a priority.

A spiritual life starved of the fellowship required to sustain itself is just like anything else that needs sustenance: it dies out.

Your challenge: find the blessing of fellowship this year

Meaningful life-change can and should be pursued any time of year but the beginning of 2017 is as good a time as any to start. Your year can be filled with tremendous experiences and accomplishments, but they are richer and more attainable in the fellowship of other men who you can bless in the process.

Your year can be filled with tremendous experiences and accomplishments, but they are richer and more attainable in the fellowship of other believers who you can bless in the process.

Simply put, you need to make fellowship a priority this year. What’s the right amount of fellowship you should pursue? That’s going to depend on you. My goal was to meet with and bless as many as I could; young and old, acquaintance or friend, it didn’t matter. The more men I met with, the more blessing and growth I found, the more I became the man God wanted me to be that year.

However, the quantity of people you fellowship with isn’t what’s important; the quality combined with the consistency of your fellowship is. That balance has to consider that if you don’t do something well and with enough frequency, you’re not going to see the kind of growth you want.

Get started. Find someone in your church or ministry circle, someone who looks like the man you want to be and ask him to fellowship. And then, find someone who you can bless with your friendship and accountability. Meet with them regularly enough and you’ll find that the growth of your spiritual maturity in this new year will soon follow.


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