Verse: 2 Peter 1:5-7
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

This list feels in a way like my checklist that I never complete, the ways in which I am not enough, or just falling short. But it is also such an encouragement and a reminder that we may be good at one of the things on this list; maybe one of these items comes easily, and yet, we need to make an effort to improve in the other areas as well. Just as in “regular” life, we are made better by well rounded skills and knowledge. Maybe that is a controversial thing to say. Often my high school students want to know what the point of some of their classes are – “When will I ever use this in life?” – and the answers are not that clear all of the time. But the truth is, the things that are hard for us improve our character. We may become better problem solvers, more willing to serve, or more willing to lean into things that don’t make us feel accomplished. Maybe we become more humble, or more empathetic. Be sure, there is always something to be learned.

The things that we practice develop skills in that particular thing, yes, but the act of practicing also develops determination and discipline. And all of those things will serve us as well. I want to read this list as building blocks, as a longterm checklist, as the goals to strive for. A list of completion that I may never fully accomplish. But the striving and the effort will be worth it. If you’re looking to set intentions for this new year, here is a worthy list.

Lord God, will you make us more like you, would you fill us with hope, with desire for good things, and with the determination to continue in the right direction. Amen