RESOLVED: Living Your Resolutions

by Orrin Woodward

In the early eighteenth century, three young colonial Americans resolved to build lives of virtue by studying and applying daily resolutions. Each of these three men made his life count, creating a legacy of selfless thoughts, words, and deeds.

  • The first, through tireless sacrificial leadership, and against indescribable odds, defeated the mighty British Empire with his ragtag group of colonial volunteers.
  • The second, through his growing international fame, sterling character, and endless tact, became America's leading diplomat, forming international alliances that secured war funding, without which, the colonials' cause would have been doomed.
  • The third, through his overwhelming intellectual and spiritual gifts, became colonial America's greatest minister, who, by preaching and writing, fanned the flames of the spiritual renewal called the Great Awakening, which led to further political and economic freedoms on the heels of the American Revolution.

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Jonathan Edwards are three examples of great individuals who succeeded in transforming themselves by diligently studying and applying a set of personal resolutions. In the process, they each created an enduring legacy not only through what they did, but also, and perhaps more importantly, through who they were.

That is in a nutshell the purpose of the little book you hold in your hands.

These resolutions are designed as a set of core principles for your daily study—meditations, if you will, aimed at helping to sharpen, define, and refine your fundamental character. Here are several dictionary definitions of the word resolve:

1. To come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something): I have resolved that I shall live to the full.

2. To deal with (a question, a matter of uncertainty, etc.) conclusively; settle; solve: to resolve the question before the board.

3. Music: to cause (a voice part or the harmony as a whole) to progress from a dissonance to a consonance.

When you apply the thirteen resolutions consistently in your daily life, you will see all three of these definitions fulfilled.

Written resolutions should encompass the whole person; they are a plan for developing your character and thinking, from who you re to who you desire to be. When you write and study his resolutions, you resolve to live internally what you proclaim externally.

There is, however, a challenge.

If success were as simple as writing a few resolutions and studying them daily, well then, success would be a simple matter! Yet the individuals who are able to genuinely incorporate such principles—the Washingtons, Franklins, Edwardses—are a precious few. Everyone in America has New Years resolutions on January 1, but few lead to lasting personal transformation (or even significant weight control!) by the following month.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains why only a few achieve lasting success in their resolutions:

Man is a wonderful creature, he is mind, he is heart, and he is will. Those are the three main constituents of man. God has given him a mind, He has given him a heart, He has given him a will whereby he can act.

Ah, and there is the challenge. True personal change is not a matter of mental exercise, or of emotional experience, or of disciplined attention. It is a matter of all three at once. Transforming your life requires that your whole person—mind, heart, and will—be engaged in the process.

Some may read the resolutions and make a mental nod of approval, but not involve the heart or will. Others may become inspired by what they read—on fire, that is, heir hearts are touched. But without engagement of the mind and will?

Resolutions must absorb the mind, touch the heart, and engage will to produce deep, lasting change.

The good news is that anyone can do this.

Anyone who desires to do so can engage and marry all three faculties together in the pursuit of these resolutions. It is not a quick process and will likely not occur in a single reading. Repetition is an essential ingredient, both because it is so often on one's second and third readings that the greatest insights reveal themselves, and also because while one reading is enough the engage the conscious mind, it is the sacrament of repetition that engages the subconscious (as we will explore in the course of resolution 4).

That is why this little book is designed for you to use as a one-year program.

Studying one resolution a week, applying all of that chapter's principles and directives in your daily life throughout the seven days of that week, will take you thirteen weeks, which is exactly one quarter-year. Repeating the cycle will allow you to thoroughly explore all thirteen resolutions four times over in the space of one calendar year.

In one year, your life will transform.

The resolutions are also grouped into three sections—private achievements, public achievements, and leadership achievements. This order represents a natural progression, since private victories be necessity precede public ones, and the combination of these two levels of victory create a level of character and competence that produces leadership.

The thirteen resolutions take you through the entire process, from private to public to leadership success. The goal is to learn how to apply the right principles at the right time, leading to the formation of wisdom. Indeed, the ultimate goal for any person learning and applying the thirteen resolutions is to develop the wisdom for life.

Imagine each of these resolutions as an instrument in an orchestra. Each plays beautiful music, but when they work together they produce a masterpiece, a living symphony of success. This little book offers the instruments to play life's symphonic masterpiece.

There is an inscription on a bishop's tomb in Westminster Abbey:

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.

We cannot hope to influence others until we have come to profoundly influence ourselves. By beginning with yourself and forging these resolutions into your being, you become a living model of your principles and a change agent for those around you.

Resolve to master the principles in these pages, to be transformed by the wisdom gained from your journey. By transforming yourself, you will gain the tools, the competence, and more importantly the character to transform your community and with that the means to change the world. Bold words, I know, but true.

Opportunity is knocking. Seize it—open the door and claim your destiny.

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