Each January brings the renewal and optimism of a new year. A time to start anew and recommit to being the best version of ourselves. As part of this, many choose to set goals to help them focus their efforts and prioritize their time in the new year. I love to set goals and to encourage others to do the same.

Bishop Matt Deakin

While much is known about the birth of Jesus Christ, his ministry, atonement and resurrection, very little is known during the 18-year period between when he taught in the temple at age 12 and when he began his ministry at age 30. We have a small glimpse of what he did during that time from Luke 2:52, which reads, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Just as the Savior grew in these areas, we too can follow his example and grow in these areas.

Following Jesus Christ’s example, within our worldwide church, our 8- to 18-year-old youth are encouraged to set spiritual, social, physical and intellectual goals. As a Bishop and youth leader within our church (and a big kid at heart) I join in this fun process with them. We use the goals the youth set as the basis for many of our weekly activities as we support and encourage each other to learn, serve and develop new talents and abilities. 

Some of my favorite goal driven youth activities over the past year have included hiking through Harvey Bear Ranch to camp at Coyote Lake, providing service at a recently widowed elderly sister’s house, learning how to cook a favorite dish, kayaking the Elkhorn Slough, serving at the food bank and learning how to play pickleball. The activities are always better when we are helping one another achieve our goals. 

Part of the guidebook we use to help set goals states, “Heavenly Father has given you talents and spiritual gifts. You can seek revelation to know how to develop your talents, become more like Jesus Christ, and make yourself, other people, and even the world better.”  

God is pleased when we stretch ourselves to develop our talents and make our community and the world a better place to live. We can find joy in this process and satisfaction that we are developing our God given talents and serving His children.

I invite you to join with me and our church’s youth in setting goals for this new year that will develop you spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually. 

Matt Deakin is the Bishop of the Morgan Hill Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. Bishop Deakin can be reached at [email protected].

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