Change Makers

New Year’s resolutions: Change you, change the world

World Vision founder, Bob Pierce, talks about New Year’s resolutions on a December 1959 radio broadcast.

By now, you’ve probably heard every tip and trick to making and not breaking New Year’s resolutions. You may have debated the pros and cons of creating one this year — or avoided the idea entirely.

Whether or not you’ve set any resolutions for the new year, you no doubt have — at least subconsciously — thought about the kind of person you want to be this year. How would you describe that person? Bold. Adventurer. Giving. Visionary. A leader. Driven. Prayerful. Faithful. Empathetic. Sacrificial.

Any of these sound appealing? Yeah, we thought so too. They’re how we would describe World Vision’s founder, Bob Pierce. Before he started what would grow into World Vision as we know it, he was all of these things because he sought after God and his will for his life on a regular basis.

The experts say it takes at least 21 days to make a new habit. Make a resolution you can follow through with. Bob Pierce gave some great advice about creating resolutions in a radio address as the calendar was about to turn from 1959 to 1960. While it’s been a few years since then, it’s really timeless wisdom, and we hope it will encourage you as you think about how you want to be remembered this year.

World Vision founder, Bob Pierce, talks about New Year’s resolutions on a December 1959 radio broadcast.
World Vision founder Bob Pierce in prayer. (©World Vision)

Surrender to God

This is the time of year when it is traditional to make New Year’s resolutions, and for Christians, it is a great time to take stock of our spiritual estate. With that in mind, I would like to give you a verse of Scripture to think about today. It’s from the 116th Psalm (KJV). The psalmist asks this question in verse 12: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”

It seems to me that this guy is having his New Year’s time of introspection. He’s honestly asking himself: After all the goodness and mercy that has followed me all the days of my life, what ought I do to please my Maker — this loving, gracious God?

The answer that comes to his heart follows in verses 13 and 14. “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.”

Many of you listening today know there are changes you need to make in your life this next year if you are to be what you must be before stepping into eternity. But let me remind you that no matter how good your resolutions are about your temper or morals or ungodly ambitions, the only thing that will truly help you change is complete surrender of your life to God. 

Examine promises you’ve made

To do this we must first “take the cup of salvation” by receiving the gift of salvation God provided through his son, Jesus Christ. Come just as you are, yielding your sinful, needy heart to his cleansing power and Lordship. Then, with a transformed heart, look at the promises you’ve made to God and others so often — promises about the kind of life you have lived and the separate little failures and conceits of life that you want to change. Bring them as gifts of love and surrender to the Lord, and then make your New Year’s resolutions, knowing he can do what you can never do on your own.

Some of you have promised before to live for Christ, but time has slipped by and you never really did it. Perhaps you promised to do something in the church or with missions, but you lost precious years in pursuit of other things and now you do not have those years to give. But there many things you can still give to God, such as your prayers and your praise.

World Vision supports an orphanage built by General Paik in South Korea in 1955. World Vision founder, Bob Pierce, talks about New Year’s resolutions on a December 1959 radio broadcast.
World Vision supports an orphanage built by General Paik in South Korea in 1955. World Vision founder Bob Pierce in center, with the children. (©1955 World Vision)

Get accountable

Don’t wait another minute! Start now to form habits of living wholly to please the Savior. Pay your “vow unto the Lord,” and do it so that others will notice.

What do I mean by that? There are some things you ought to promise God and then burn every bridge so that you can’t go back on your promise. One of the best ways to do that is to openly proclaim what you are going to do before others. Then if it isn’t done, others will know you didn’t do it and hold you accountable. I tell you this from personal experience.

Think globally

My last word today is this. With all the promises you are making to God this New Year’s, don’t forget the missionaries and those who are pouring out their lives to reach the suffering millions of our world in Jesus’ name. Keep the gospel going out to the parts of the world where men have never yet heard that Christ died for them.

And remember World Vision as one of the arms of the church, carrying help to emergency areas — especially to many of our [local] brothers and sisters in Christ who have so little but give so much.

We would love to have you write us this week with a small gift. But more importantly, remember as you pray for the new year to ask God what he would have you do for the cause of missions.

How are you going to let God use you for his glory?

New Year’s resolutions can tend to be self-centered, but if God is at the center of your resolution then there’s a much better chance of success. Here are some practical steps you can take this year to let God use you for his glory.

  • Listen: Are you making time for him? Are you ready to listen? Are you spending time in his Word? 
  • Pray: Ask God for his guidance, wisdom, and strength. Praise him, from whom all blessings flow. 
  • Serve: Be God’s hands and feet in your community. 
  • Share: Your relationship with Jesus and your testimony are a powerful witness to your friends and family. What you think and how that translates to how you act are all ways to show God’s love to the world.

It’s okay to set goals to improve your life, but by improving the life of another, you might find yourself transformed in the process. 

Christian Faith Stories

View All Stories
A young woman looks up at an indigo-colored night sky full of stars.

5 ways to pray for lasting change

A little girl leans toward the camera smiling while a woman holds her.

Matthew 25: Prayer for U.S. children and families in need