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Go For the Gold

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Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12). 

Friend to Friend

I look forward to watching the Winter Olympics, and am always amazed by the amount of training the athletes are willing to invest in order to win a gold, silver, or bronze medal. If Christians were willing to make the same kind of investment in running the race of life, I believe the world would be a very different place.

How important you consider a race to be influences how hard you will run that race and determines the goals you set in order to win. I believe every follower of Christ should have clear life goals based on clear spiritual goals. There is a close connection between reaching spiritual goals and living a life of victory and contentment. If you want your relationship with God to flourish, it needs to be accomplishing something, and steadily growing – which involves learning to set meaningful life goals.

In order to set life goals that honor and please God, it is important to remember that because we are children of God, we walk by faith – not by sight. The world’s wisdom is often in direct opposition to the grace of God. In 2 Corinthians 1:12 the apostle Paul reminds us to keep our gaze on God, our glance on our circumstances, and our steps in His will.

One of the most comforting thoughts about setting goals is that God is more concerned about my future than I am. When I stop to think about the fact that God has planned every day of my life, setting goals becomes the daily quest of discovering that plan and choosing to follow it. I find great hope in the knowledge that even though I do not know every detail concerning my future, God does, and He has already made every provision for that plan. In other words, where God guides – He provides. He has already been where He is asking us to go. And that is why I can face each day with a confident expectation that God is sufficient and will bless my life as I seek His plan and set my life goals accordingly. Setting goals is the mark of a seeking heart that longs to please God and experience every blessing He has for us.

A friend once shared with me the idea of making life goals “S.M.A.R.T.” Over the years, this idea has become a practical and powerful tool in learning how to set meaningful life goals. I hope it is helpful to you.

Specific. Psalm 139:16 “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Life goals must be specific. Determine precisely what your goals are. What have you always wanted to do but have never had the time or money to do? What would you do if money and time were not an issue? What do you want to accomplish in the next five years? What do you wish you had done in the last five years? What do you think God wants you to do now that you are not doing?

Break each goal down into a series of smaller accomplishments that will result in achieving your primary goal. When you break your goals into bite-sized pieces, they don’t seem to be quite as daunting.

By the way, celebrate each time you achieve one of your goals. Sharon Jaynes is a good friend and awesome partner in ministry. I will never forget the day Sharon walked into the office where we both worked, holding what looked like a new baby wrapped in a blanket. Since Sharon’s son was in college at the time, you can say I was a little surprised – until she unfolded the blanket and said, “I just gave birth.” Her “bundle” was actually the first copy of her new book, and she was celebrating. I joined her in praising God for the goal she had set and met! Praise and celebration can help motivate you to achieve the next goal on your list.

Measurable. Luke 11:28 “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Can you tangibly show that you met your goal? Goals must be measurable to have life-changing value, and you must be able to tell whether or not you have reached each goal. What specifically do you want to accomplish, and within what time frame? It is so easy to set ambiguous life goals. “I want to get more involved in my church” instead of “I will attend the 10:30 worship service each week.” I once set the goal of improving my prayer life, but the first question that popped into my mind was, “How?” A better goal would have been to pray each morning for 10 minutes or recruit a prayer partner to pray with once a week.

Once a goal has been met, review the process of meeting that goal. What mistakes could you have avoided? What changes should you have made along the way? Ask God for wisdom as you plan and set specific goals. Involve Him in every step and be sure to chart your progress. Don’t be afraid to make mid-course corrections as needed. We sometimes allow sin to influence the goals we set, but if we submit each goal to God, He will guide us back onto the right path and lead us to re-evaluate each goal.

Join me Thursday for the “rest of the story” on setting goals.

Let’s Pray

Father, I come to You today with a heart full of praise and wonder. To think that You created me in response to Your plan is an amazing thought, Lord. But I choose to believe it and celebrate the awesome plan You have for my life. Help me learn how to set life goals that will lead me in Your ways and help me fulfill the purpose for which I was created. Thank You, Lord.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen. 

Now It’s Your Turn

Read and memorize Jeremiah 29:11. With that promise in your heart, begin to evaluate your life goals. Are they specific? Are they measurable? What changes do you need to make in order to set and meet the goals God has for your life? Record those changes below.

Specific goals. Psalm 139:16 “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” _______________________________________________________

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Measurable goals. Luke 11:28 “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

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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!

Looking for a Bible Study? Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. Don’t miss the new study, How to Tame the Tongue, beginning January 20, 2014.

And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

6 Responses

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you for being a blessing in my life. I truly needed this today.

  2. Toneka says:

    Mary,

    Thank you for this devotion today. It spoke directly to me with encouragement and confirmation. God is just like that. He provides and gives us exactly what we need when we need it.

  3. Beth says:

    How can I know if my life goals meet what God has planned for me?

  4. Elana says:

    Thanks so much for these inspirational words! God has been preparing me for His plan for many years and the time has come for me to take some difficult and time consuming steps of faith. This will be a brand new type of ministry that uniquely fits the gifts He has given me so words about setting goals to achieve His plan for me is exactly what I needed to hear!!! THANK YOU!

  5. Elana says:

    To Beth
    IMHO ….
    Through prayer and reading His word, God will reveal His plan for you…although it will be in His perfect timing–not yours (and if you are like me, waiting is the most difficult part!). He is continually using life circumstances to prepare you. But to help you along the way He will use the Holy Spirit to continue to tug your heart in certain directions….being open and perceptive to the holy spirits leading is the key. In addition, where he is leading you will never contradict His word. Hope that helps!

  6. Kristina says:

    Thank you for the devotional. The SMART goal writing format is what I am learning in OT school to write my goals for my clients so I thought it was really neat how I can relate this to my own walk with the Lord.

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