The term “Bucket List” has been around for quite some time, but seems to have become more popular since the movie, “Bucket List,” came out a decade ago. The term originates from the phrase to “kick the bucket” or in other words to die. It’s a list that people create of things they want to do or accomplish before they die. I personally don’t have a “bucket list.” I’m not against them; I just don’t have one.

We live in a world of lists. In college, I had a professor who lived by the list. To pass a test you had to be able to give the ten things that made a better marriage or list the 12 things that make a couple happiest or list the 20 things for a healthy relationship. Most were good, but I can’t remember a one today!

We take our list to the grocery store, look at the list of things we need to pack for a vacation, check the list of those for whom we need to buy gifts and make lists of what I need to do today. With most of these lists, we are good at fulfilling and even adding to them as we go along. Comedian Jeanne Robertson has a skit where she sends her husband with a list to the grocery store for ingredients for 7-up pound cakes she made for people who were sick or hurt. He comes home with a pound of margarine, two large bottle of vanilla flavoring, three dozen eggs, four 3-lb cans of shortening, 25 pounds of sugar, 30 pounds of flour and 42 bottles of 7-up. She had given him a list and numbered the items, accidentally leaving off the period after the numbers (1 butter, 2 large bottle of vanilla, 3 dozen eggs, 4 can of 3lb lard, 5 5lb bag of sugar, 6 5lb bag of flour and 7 six-pack of 7-up.) Instead of reading the numbers as items on the list, he read them as how many she wanted of each. Lists can get confusing!

New Year’s comes around, and we make up our lists, calling them resolutions. Some of the lists are short, maybe one or two items while others may have a list of a dozen things to accomplish. It’s a new year, a time to make changes and accomplish things we want to get done. The list includes things like lose weight, read the entire Bible, get out of debt, exercise daily or finish some big project. We start the year off out of the gate working hard on those resolutions, our “bucket list” for the year. Maybe we’re good at it for a week, or so then we slack off. We start back on the desserts or skip a couple of days of exercise. We read Genesis and Exodus and then get bogged down in the laws of Leviticus. The project goes unfinished, we don’t lose weight, and we get back into the same routine as years past. Out intentions are good but the list soon becomes history.

The Bible is full of lists, lists of things that we are told not to do such as gossip, backbiting, lying, stealing, mortal sins and the like. There are also lists of things that we are told to do like loving one another, being compassionate, having patience, or making peace. There are several lists in the Bible, check them out.

As the New Year comes around to make your yearly “bucket list,” make one you can keep. Make your goals attainable to achieve them. If it’s losing weight, make your goal to lose 5 pounds in January then look at February when you get there. If it’s reading the Bible, make your goal to read a book in January, pick another in February and another in March. If it’s exercise make your running goal reasonable. I read the story of a man who wanted to exercise, so his goal was to run around the block every day and add a mailbox to his run. The first day he ran once around the block. The next day he ran around the block then to his neighbor’s mailbox and back. Each day he’d add a mailbox until he was running around the block several times a week. If it’s financial, determine to pay one debt off at a time then work on the next.

Most importantly look at the lists in the Bible. Look at the list of do’s and don’ts. Look for ones you need to work on to improve your spiritual life. Pick one out of each list and make it a point to work on those two for the year. If you can’t do two, then pick one and work on that one trait.

To be a better person we have to look in the mirror as James said to see what needs to be changed. Change, however, comes slowly. We can’t accomplish everything we want in our life overnight, but if we work at it little bits at a time, one morning we’ll wake up and realize how much better off we are than when we took that first step. Much like a baby learns to walk, it’s that first step that’s the hardest, then before we know it, we’re walking and running without even thinking about what we are doing.

Keep your “bucket lists.” Do those things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” But don’t neglect the list, the ones that make life productive from day to day.


“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”–Philippians 4:8

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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