July 25, 2012
We are all goal oriented. No matter how in-the-moment you think you are, no one is passively going through life without a goal in each situation, even if the goal is as simple as enjoying the moment.
Some people are into more ethereal goals, and others prefer very concrete ones: happiness, satisfaction, paying the bills on time, playing with the kids after work, finishing all the housework, getting my work done so I can watch the ballgame, or helping people navigate life better. Some goals are quick and simple and some are a bit more complex and take longer to achieve.
Looking back on my life, few of my accomplishments emerged from a well thought-out strategy or process. In fact, I rarely looked at the whole picture before pursuing my “goals.” My aspirations as a teen and young adult were usually me-oriented and “fixed” one problem, but ultimately gave birth to new problems. The danger was, once I set a goal, I became almost single-minded in my focus to achieve it. I set off to achieve it “my way.”
I experienced some struggles and letdowns after missing out on some “ideal” goals, and realized that if I wanted to be successful and enjoy life, I really needed to change my strategy. The starting point had to be evaluating my goals to determine if they were healthy for me and God-honoring. The second step was developing a new strategy to achieve them and other more fulfilling goals.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Just 2 steps. But we have so many issues working against us. To start, we are taught to be self-sufficient and to solve our own problems, because “we have all the answers” or “we can’t trust anyone else to look out for us.” Mix in the fear of repeating past mistakes, and the difficulties of handling any pain or discomfort. Add in the fact that life happens so quickly it’s hard to step back and get a big-picture assessment and strategy in place. This is the recipe that Satan desires. It leads us to make short term, me-centered goals, accomplished in our own strength by way of knee-jerk strategies Wow, sounds like teenage thinking! The stark reality is that many adults do the same thing, and never grow out of this immature way of setting goals and developing strategies. What about you?
Today, before going after your next goal (or maybe you are in the midst of pursuing a goal) talk with God about it directly through prayer. Listen as He speaks to your spirit, through friends, your family, and circumstances. Ask God for discernment to help you decide if that goal is part of His will for you … right now. If the answer is yes, then go through the same process in evaluating your strategy. Then you can pursue that goal with even more confidence. And when you reach that goal, thank God for his help and guidance. Rejoice in what He has accomplished in you. But if the answer is no, let the Holy Spirit search you as you journey. Look honestly at who you are inside and what keeps you from accomplishing goals that are Godly. The goals you set are your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father, Pursuing goals comes so naturally to me, it’s almost like second nature. I confess that when a goal grabs my attention, my instinct is to “go for it” without talking it over with You. I realize now that many of my goals are superficial and have nothing to do with pleasing You or doing Your work. I know, Lord, that when I take time to discuss matters with You, my life becomes so much more satisfying. I pray, Lord, that You help me develop goals that are according to Your will … that You become my captain in all the tasks I undertake to accomplish the goal. Help me to grow in humility and accept Your direction, will, and timing. I pray that You shine the light of Your presence on all my goals. I pray in the name of the One who modeled the ultimate goal, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness. Psalm 89:15-16