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Resolution: lose ten pounds in thirty days.  Outcome: stuck to a reasonable diet at mealtime for at least the first few days, but also managed to consume “just a few” curly fries, peanut butter cookies, and chocolate bars that my child was selling for school.

Resolution: workout at least three times per week.  Outcome: thought about it several times, even mentioned it to my wife once, but never realized I had so many things to do during the first week of the New Year that just had to be done!

Resolution: start a Bible reading plan aimed at reading through the entire Bible in a year.  Outcome: “Where did I put that Reading Plan list?  Has anybody seen my Bible?”

With all the anticipation of a New Year, and the opportunities it affords to put the mistakes of the past year behind us, come resolutions to improve ourselves in countless ways.  Among them are those that seem vitally important in the final days of December, but whose importance mysteriously wanes as the first few days of the New Year too quickly pass.  Rather than expound upon all the shortcomings of the past year one might desire to address through a wide array of resolutions, I offer three specific life scenarios that point to a common issue and address the issue through a single resolution for the New Year:

Scenario #1: You find yourself on the 17th green at a golf course more than an hour from home and a long-planned dinner-and-movie-date with your spouse or significant other is less than two hours away.  What do you do?

Scenario #2: You are invited to join a life-long friend in a day-long outing you will thoroughly enjoy, but which could interfere with a birthday celebration for one of your children.  What do you do?

Scenario #3: You are enjoying an overdue vacation with the entire family, confident that any issue at work can be adequately addressed by others, and you receive a call which the ringtone alone signals as work-related.  What do you do?

In all three scenarios, putting self first could be justified very easily.  An abundance of excuses come easily to mind that can rationalize your need to put your personal interests and/or needs ahead of others.  Your spouse or significant other will understand that you have to finish your golf game.  Your child will understand that you thought you would be home in time to see them blow out the candles.  Your family will surely understand that your workplace would not have called if it weren’t important.

Each of these situations challenges us to make a choice between self and family, between doing what’s right for our ego or pleasure and doing what is in the best interest of our family.  As you begin the New Year with an anticipation of happiness for yourself and those whom you love, consider the difference that one simple resolution, a resolution worth keeping, could make: when faced with the choice between self and family, put family first!

What experiences have you had in your family that reinforces the concept of putting family first?  With whom does the practice of putting family first have greater impact–the spouse/significant other or the children who might be involved?  What opportunities have arisen in your family in which you or a spouse/significant other did or did not put family first over other considerations?  What difference did it make in the situation and your ongoing family dynamics?