Like most people, during the first few weeks of a new year, there are specific things that I do or feel every January. For example, I clean out my room, throw away old things, write out my New Year’s Resolutions, and feed into the urge to better myself this year – or you’ve probably heard the cliche phrase “New year, new me” thrown around everywhere.

Though we should really be improving ourselves throughout the year, it isn’t wrong to indulge ourselves in these norms. So, this year, let me take you through 5 of the habits I’d like to work on. 

  1. Morning devotions and Bible reading

Giving our best can mean a lot of things, but something specific I’d like to mention is giving Him our best time of the day – that is, the morning when our minds are still fresh. By filling our thoughts with God’s words and His plan for us, we are better equipped for the day at hand. Though many of us might already spend our mornings reading His Word and doing devotions, there are still things that we can improve.

  • Don’t touch your phone beforehand, or where possible, don’t read the Bible from your phone. While it’s efficient and compact, doing your devotions from your phone is just simply not it for a few reasons.
    • Distractions from notifications
    • The temptation to check social media or a game
    • Reading from your phone means that you’re losing the whole idea or ‘experience’ of flipping through the pages of a paper Bible. You lose perspective of where things are in the Bible. And, scrolling through the Bible on your phone almost feels like you’re just scrolling through any other app, even though the Bible is worth way more than that. (I’m not saying that it’s sinful to use your phone as a Bible, but why use your phone when you could use a paper Bible?)
  • Where possible, try to do your morning devotions in a quiet environment when you’re able to concentrate because speaking from experience, reading the Bible on the way to school is not a great way to go. Hence why doing your devotions at your desk in the morning is the best option you have.
  • Make sure we read both the Bible and devotions. A friend once told me that reading your devotions every morning is just taking in what someone else got from the Bible, whereas reading the Bible itself lets you also find joy in learning it directly. It isn’t wrong to read devotions (it is actually very important you do so), but devotions can’t be everything, and vice versa. Here are some devotional books I’d recommend if you don’t have one already:

2. Time management and prioritising

When talking to my friends – or in fact, people of all ages about our struggles, time management is always something that pops up. Every year, I’d pledge to myself that I’d use my planner and be organised, but it never really happened. 

While we’re still alive, time will keep going, with or without us on board – and we cannot go back to make up for the time that we have wasted. A simple way to change our mindset is to think that we’ll each be held accountable for every single second in our lives at the end of time. Have we used our time wisely for God's glory?

And as a reminder, we must consider our calling right now as students. On top of ministry and extracurricular activities, we must know how to prioritise our responsibilities so that we can give our best to God with what we have.

3. Breaking free from screens

As Generation-Z, we’re quite known for being quite ‘advanced’ or tech-savvy. But after months of lockdown, being glued to our screens is something we’ve gotten too used to. Though the world around us revolves around pop culture or trends, we must know our place and purpose. 

Inevitably and unconsciously, the culture and norms we find in movies, songs, books are affecting our mindset, dragging us closer to this age’s worldview and away from God. If we aren’t firmly grounded in Christ, we will easily be pulled away by the current. 

Something you can add to your New Year’s Resolutions is lowering screen time!

4. Treating our bodies well

Something that isn’t really spoken about too often is how we must take care of our bodies because we are created in the image of God – “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). 

Treating our bodies well doesn’t mean we can rest or do ‘self-care’ all day, as that is slothful. But it also does not mean that we have to train every day like an Olympian. To glorify God with our body means to follow His calling for us – to praise and worship Him and be a blessing to others. 

And in a more practical sense, treating our bodies as a temple of God also means not destroying our flesh or putting harmful things in it. Instead, we must stay pure and clean, bearing the image of God. 

5. Where do we find our joys?

Though this isn’t something we can exactly control, it is worth identifying where our affections are so that we may come closer to God. Whether we like it or not, the things on Earth are all temporary and will someday pass. We can only find true joy in God, and to do so, we must:

  1. Read His Word to know who He actually is and what His will for us is. How are we able to develop a personal relationship with Christ if we don’t even know who He is?
  2. Pray to Him, sharing our struggles because Christ is willing to stoop down to hear us. Though earthly friends may forsake us, a relationship with Christ is the only one that can bring eternal joy. 
  3. Serve Him, be it through the church or in your everyday life. Ministry at church brings joy not only because we are serving Christ but also because of the togetherness and community with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 

And so, whether or not you’ll join me in working on these five habits, I pray that the beginning-of-year motivation drive doesn’t just end here, but may it continue throughout the year, that we better ourselves and find true joy in Christ. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” - Romans 15:13.