Setting goals is critical to success. While great things sometimes happen unexpectedly most success in life comes from the pursuit of solid, realistic goals. A student sets a goal of graduating from college with a 4.0 grade point average or a salesman a goal of exceeding his own sales every year. An athlete runs faster because he set specific goals for his time in races. All of these are examples of goal setting in life.
Goal setting also works in the spiritual realm. Christians set goals of reading through the Bible in a year. Some read it through two or three times a year. In the Fishers of Men program participants are taught to set a goal of making a certain number of contacts every week. Churches grow when specific goals for growth are set before the congregation. Goal setting works.
Set Your Goal by Identifying Your Deepest Spiritual Need
This is actually pretty easy for most people. The hardest part is being honest with ourselves. We reason that we are in pretty good shape spiritually so there is no real need to set any spiritual goal. But inside we know better. We struggle against a host of spiritual problems every day. Some are of our own making and others thrust upon us by an evil world. We know those problems and are intimately acquainted with every spiritual obstacle thrust before us. We know our needs but sometimes we don’t want to admit our weaknesses.
Every Christian can become stronger, more faithful, more knowledgeable and more evangelistic. The writer of Hebrews speaks of “the sin which clings so closely” () and which must be laid aside. You have a sin like that don’t you? I do. It needs to go.
Set your goal by Identifying your deepest spiritual need.
Choose goals That Can Be Reached – With Difficulty
Poet Robert Browning said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” I disagree, slightly. We must be able to attain our goals else despair awaits.
For example, a person with on-again, off-again worship attendance might set a goal of attending every worship service for the next year. That may not be practicable for them. Illness or unavoidable work situations could easily wreck that goal. A more attainable goal might be to attend every worship service this month. Such a goal, when achieved would be a solid improvement and would build confidence for the next month. The key is to challenge yourself.
Choose goals that can be achieved with difficulty in improvement awaits. This applies to both physical and spiritual goals.
Be Very Specific With Your Goals
“I will never sin again!” That goal is as admirable as it is unattainable. The Bible is clear, we have been, we are and will continue to be sinners (; ; ). So such a goal cannot be reached. But it is also vague. A successful goal must be precise. Instead we might say, “I will not gossip this week.” In fact, you may need to say, “I will not gossip with________ at lunch today.” This goal is very specific, well defined and very reasonable.
Sometimes we simply take larger desires and break them into smaller pieces. No one can eat a 16 ounce steak in one bite nor can we attain large goals at once. If a goal seems too big then it probably is. Break it down into smaller, specific goals. You will have greater success.
Be specific with your goals and you will greatly improve your odds of success.
Write Down Your Goals
Someone has said, “Goals that are not written down are just wishes.” Every Christian should write down their top 10 goals and keep them on their person every day. Remember God gave Moses the Law written on tablets of stone (). Writing your goals gives them permanence and importance. The act of writing them preserves the intent of the moment and will make it harder to change.
Keeping your goals with you serves as a great reminder of what you have committed to do. Of the Law of Moses the Hebrews were told to “bind them as a sign on your hand” () and to constantly teach the children. The Law was never far from them. Likewise, our goals ought always be close.
Write down your goals to reinforce its importance and permanence.
Pray About Your Goals Every Day
We can accomplish little in our secular life and nothing in our spiritual life apart from God’s help. When our goals are in tune with God’s plans and when we ask for His help, we can and will succeed. Remember the Lord’s promise, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you (). At the beginning of every day, take those written goals, read each and then seek God’s help to reach that goal.
This is not some magic ritual. You are asking for God to help you reach the goal. There is no expectation that he will do all the work. You have a part to play also. He is helping you. Make sure your goals are aligned with His plans and His way. Remember James’ warning, “You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” ().
Pray about your goals every day and discover a strength you never thought you had.
A month from now, or six months or a year, you will look back and be stunned at the improvements in your life because of goals that you set now. It will work. Give it a try!
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12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (ESV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (ESV)
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (ESV)
12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” (ESV)
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (ESV)
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (ESV)
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (ESV)