January 1, 2021
I just discovered there is a strange debate on whether or not Christians should set goals. The argument is if we set goals we cannot be led by the Holy Spirit. This is simply not biblical. While we don’t want to hold onto our goals so tightly we miss divine detours, we should make plans to accomplish the purposes God created us to complete. How do we do that well?
“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” – Richard Cushing, American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church
The great commission is all about spreading the gospel.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
So as you begin to reflect on setting your goals for the new year consider how your goals align to this command given by Jesus. One more major scripture to have in the back of your mind as you set goals is the greatest commandment.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV)
Your personal goals should share the good news with others and love God as well as others. This includes LOVING yourself which I think we forget sometimes. Here is how I prepare to seek God’s guidance and begin to set goals aligned to His will.
I spend several weeks leading up to the new year praying for divine insight about the goals God has for me and my family. I ask and wait. Ask and wait. Ask and wait. Sometimes I hear something right away and sometimes it takes well into January before I get a solid set of goals. It doesn’t matter how long you pray, what is important is that you spend enough time in prayer until you feel confident in the goals you are setting.
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22 NIV)
I set small mindset goals for too many years. I would pray and hear a goal that was outrageous. They were so big I wouldn’t even write them down. Guess what? I never accomplished them. As I grew in faith and as a Christian I began to see God’s limitless nature. I started to trust and believe for more, amazing audacious and CRAZY God-sized goals. Guess what? I started accomplishing them through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. Trust that God will speak to you and when He does be fearless in committing to the “Beyond your wildest dreams” plans.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? (Luke 14:28 NIV)
Anyone who wants to accomplish a goal doesn’t write it down and then wait for it to miraculously happen. They research HOW they can begin and are detailed in what the goal entails. God loves specific plans. Just look at the detailed building instructions he gave for the tabernacle in the Old Testament. I like to use the SMART goal setting model with one minor modification to the “A”.
It is helpful for me to set goals according to the different areas of my life. Giving my mind some parameters helps me to focus and hone in on the specific goals for each category. Here are a few examples from the areas I typically set goals for each year. These examples aren’t very specific so make sure to modify them with details. For example, don’t say I want to “Pray more, say I want to pray for 10 minutes, 5 days a week.”
As you proceed with your plans leave a little flexibility in your heart and mind to continually be led by the Holy Spirit. Your goals are like guides. They lead you into the places and spaces where God will help outwork some of your destiny. Be aware that as you move forward there will always be unexpected challenges, delays, promotions, and blessings in the journey. This is why being flexible is critical to goal setting.
As we look forward to the new year I pray you are full of hopeful expectations. I know that I am. As you seek to follow God’s divine plan for your life, spend time in prayer reflecting on how you can love God and love people this year. Trust that God will speak to you and He is faithful to help you accomplish the plans He has placed in your heart. Remain pliable in how the goals may get accomplished or changed and remember that our main goal should always be to share the good news in our lives with others!