New Year, New You!

"Even children make themselves known by their acts, by whether what they do is pure and right."

(Proverbs 20:11)

Happy new yearThe start of a new year is a good time for each of us to review our lives and to determine some area of needed personal growth. Speak with the children about making New Year's resolutions. Share with the children one way that you would like to grow personally in the New Year.

Often people do not persist with their resolutions because they have not established a plan or set goals to reach these resolutions. We all need help; and help is available with God!

Ask the children if they have ever planted a young tree. When our family planted one in our front yard, it was initially duct taped to a wooden stake. The stake helped the tree grow straight. The stake kept the tree from bending in the wind and provided some additional strength in stormy weather. The tree might not have survived or may have grown crooked without the stake. (You may want to invite a gardener to speak with the children about this process.)

Just as the young tree was attached to the stake to help it grow properly, children need to be attached to "stakes." Children will grow strong physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually if they are attached to some good "stakes" during their formative years. These stakes include the Word of God, communities of faith, and spiritually strong adults.

Ask the children to draw a picture of themselves as trees. Then ask them to draw several stakes that are attached to the tree. These "stakes" can represent actions that they can take to help them grow physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually in ways that would be pleasing to God. Here are some possible "stakes":

  • Physical Stakes — Proper eating, physical exercise, proper sleep
  • Mental Stakes — Reading books, completing homework, listening to teachers, critical thinking
  • Emotional Stakes — Conversations with parents, trusted friends, and church staff; prayer; remembering God's blessings; good deeds
  • Spiritual Stakes — Reading the Bible, prayer, Sunday school, worship, giving money regularly to church, service projects

Encourage the children to set one growth goal for 2005. Invite the children to share their growth goals and the stakes that will help them achieve the growth. Remind the children that you will be praying for them and ask them to pray for you as all of you seek to reach your growth goals.

Prayer

Dear God, help me to grow strong in all areas of my life. Teach me to follow you, to make good decisions, and to help others in this new year. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some "stakes" that will help you succeed in keeping your resolution?
  • Why might making your growth goal be challenging?
  • What can others do to help you succeed?
  • God wants us to be good stewards of our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and our spiritual life, not just our money and possessions. Why is it important to God that we seek to grow in these areas?

Janet Zimmerman is an ordained United Methodist deacon, who serves as Christian Education Director at Church of the Lakes in Canton, Ohio.

Posted in 2005.

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