2019 . . . Let’s Talk About Resolve

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
— Proverbs 13:4 ESV

It is a brand new year, a perfect time to be talking about resolve.

New Year's and birthdays are natural times for me to reflect. Looking back I assess my year. Gazing ahead I set goals. What I have discovered is that resolutions are worthless without resolve. I see this in Scripture and I see it in history.

Solomon knew a thing or two about resolve. His counsel to his son? Get after it!

The soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
— Proverbs 13:4 ESV

I see resolve written across the pages of biographies I read. Consider the great Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards. George Marsden notes that "Jonathan undertook the Puritan practice of framing a set of resolutions to discipline himself, adding new entries as needed." Some of Edwards' written resolutions:

  • "Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul of body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it."

  • "To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking."

  • "Never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possible can."

  • "My time is so short that I have not time to perfect myself in all studies: wherefore resolved, to omit and put off, all but the most important and needful studies."

A little closer to our day, both presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman exercised the resolve of purpose. Frail as a child, young Teddy Roosevelt resolved to "make" his body after his father chided him with these words:

Theodore, you have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. You must make your body. It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you can do it.

Roosevelt's biographer notes that "the boy threw himself into a strict regimen of strength and endurance training," a methodical drudgery that paid dividends in his physique and no doubt fed his fierce determination as a thinker, writer, politician, and explorer.

Harry Truman assumed the presidency upon the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Shortly after taking office he said,

I accept with humility the honor which the American people have conferred on me. I accept it with a resolve to do all I can for the welfare of this nation and for the peace of the world.

This was no lofty platitude. Truman would labor for the next seven years to fulfill that commitment.

I am thinking about Edwards, Truman, and Roosevelt as I reflect on 2018 and look ahead to the New Year. Each understood that dreams must be tethered to an iron resolve. Solomon reminds me that the fruit of resolve is tasty indeed:

A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul.
— Proverbs 13:19

Resolve is determination with a capital "D". Resolve is the will putting on a pair of work gloves. Resolve is God-honoring and ultimately God-empowered work.

  • Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king's food (Daniel 1:8).

  • Nehemiah rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem because he was resolved to do so (Nehemiah 2:12).

  • Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem and then Rome (Acts 19:21).

Jonathan Edwards added new entries to his list of resolves. That tells me he was assessing how to better honor God with his one and only life. That's a great practice.

All of this brings me to today. What are you "resolved" to do with your one and only life in 2019? Here are five suggestions for getting started:

  1. Assess: What do you want to look differently in your life in 2019?

  2. Probe: I need to probe my motives? Edwards wanted to honor God. Am I making this resolution so I look good, or so I better honor God with my life?

  3. Write: There is nothing like writing down a resolution and keeping it posted where you can see it. Resolutions fade fast.

  4. Pray: Paul tells me that "self-control" (a synonym of resolve in my book) is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Ask God's help.

  5. Plan: Resolutions must be tied to a plan to gain traction. What is your plan to "make it happen"?

May God give you the sweet taste of desires fulfilled in 2019!


  1. "Jonathan Edwards undertook..." and resolve list from George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2003. Pages 50-52; 95.

  2. "Theodore you have the mind..." from The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin. New York: Simon & Schuster. 212. Page 39.

  3. "The boy threw himself into a strict regimen..." from The Bully Pulpit, 39.

  4. "I accept with honor..." from Truman by David McCullough. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1992. Page 729.