Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Someone once said that if God showed us every detail of our lives – all at one time – we would sit down and refuse to face another day. We were not created to be omniscient like God. He reveals our future to us in portions we can digest – like loving parents feeding their child the only type and amount of food the child can handle.
Watching our daughter introduce solid foods to our grandson, Justus, was an intriguing process to watch. I’m not sure if it was the texture or taste that surprised Justus, but the faces he made when that new food was first placed in his little mouth were hilarious. When he liked the new food, his eyes got big and he grinned and made a big smacking sound as if to say, “Where have you been keeping this stuff?” However, a few foods elicited a very different reaction. He scrunched up his face, turned his head away, and promptly spat out the offending food. Danna quickly learned the art of mixing foods in a single bite. She also learned that the food Justus refused to eat on Thursday was often eagerly consumed the next time she tried. God only reveals what we can understand, perceive, apply, and digest at the time.
Attainable. Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
If you have seen the movie, “Miss Congeniality,” you will remember when each contestant was asked about life goals. “I want to achieve world peace” was the popular answer. World peace is a great goal, but not attainable by one person. Perhaps a better individual goal would be to make peace with your neighbor. I sometimes think we set life goals that are lofty and unattainable so we can rationalize our way out of even trying to attain it. Reaching a life goal requires action. We are called by God to not only hear His Word, but to put it into practice – to do something about it through setting goals.
A goal should not be set to authenticate what you have already been doing or want to do. God created us to mature, to grow, and to change, not to stand on the sidelines of life. God wants us in the game and on the field of life. Godly goals will push us beyond where we are and what we are capable of. If no effort is required to reach the desired outcome, then it really isn’t a goal.
When I was in college, I sensed God leading me to take organ lessons. I had played the piano for years, but suddenly had the desire to play the organ as well. After a few months of lessons, I was asked to play the organ for a countywide crusade to be held at the convention center of the small town where I grew up. Hundreds of people would attend the crusade, and the guest speakers were well-known across the state. I was terrified, but began to practice the organ every spare minute of every day. By the time the crusade came, I was able to play each song that was handed to me. It was definitely “a God-thing.”
Sidebar: Ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable in each area where you want to improve, grow, or achieve. Choose a friend from whom you can easily take criticism – a friend who will lovingly push you a little when you aren’t following through on your goals. When we involve others, we tend to feel a greater sense of responsibility and accountability. Run your plans and goals past other people. You don’t want to do this with every goal or at every step along the way, but involving others with big and important plans is a great idea, especially if those plans impact other people.
Realistic. Hebrews 11:6 “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
It is easy to establish a goal that is totally unrealistic. In doing so, we are setting ourselves up to fail. I once set a goal to read and memorize at least two chapters of the Bible each week. Yes, it was a great goal, but it was also an unrealistic goal for that season of my life. I had two small children and was directing the women’s ministry of the church where my husband was the lead pastor. In my spare time, I taught a community Bible study, had 20 voice and piano students each week, and was traveling and speaking for women’s events. When I did not reach that goal of memorizing two chapters of Scripture each week, I beat myself up with guilt. A more realistic goal would have been to memorize a few verses each week.
At this point, it is good to brutally examine motives. Are the goals I am setting from God, or are they from our own selfish desires? Do I want my relationship with God to grow, or do I want others to think I am Godly? Consciously decide in light of Scripture which goals you will prioritize, or you will most likely end up surrendering to the “tyranny of the urgent” or just doing the next and easiest thing.
Timely. Ephesians 5:15-16 “Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Deadlines help me achieve my goals. When someone books me to speak for an event, I always ask them to give me a deadline for submitting handouts and slides, shipping resources, etc. I then record those deadlines on my personal calendar. If I don’t, I often find myself scrambling to get books shipped in time for the event and end up paying extra postage or I have to download slides onto a memory stick to take with me to the event. If you give yourself a deadline, you will get more done.
Write out a list of things that would need to change in your life in order to reach your goals. The only reason we sometimes don’t accomplish our goals is that we don’t have a written plan of what needs to be done. Without having the ability to review goals regularly, we tend to lose our focus. Before we know it, a month or two has gone by, there is no progress, and we are frustrated that we are no closer to the realization of our goals.
Pray! Ask God to give you direction to create goals and help you to reach them. He has plans and purposes for our lives. Success and purpose come when we find out what they are and go after them wholeheartedly. Bathe your goals and plans with prayer, and ask the Lord to bless you as you work toward each one.
We need to order our lives in a more conscious way. Set forward-focused, spiritually sound goals, and be delivered from the futility and defeat of a life without purpose.
Father, I want to follow Your plan for my life. Please lead me and guide me in Your ways. Give me Your wisdom and truth and show me the purpose for which I was created. I will seek You first in my life. I will trust You with my whole heart and do whatever You ask me to do.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read and memorize Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Record these verses in your journal.
Circle each action word.
In your own words, define the action words you circled.
How can you apply each directive to your daily life?
More from the Girlfriends
One of the most important parts of setting goals is bathing each goal in prayer. When we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and seek to obey His commands, we can come before God in confidence, knowing that He wants to pour out His blessings on our life. He is waiting. We just need to ask. If you struggle with understanding how to pray and how to hear the voice of God, I encourage you to get Chair Time, an E-Book written by Mary’s husband, Dan. It will absolutely change your life!