Do your eyes automatically roll at the mere thought of setting another New Year’s resolution that will inevitably crash and burn before Valentine’s Day? Whether we seek to fulfill our goals as a result of guilt or even pure intentions, most of the time we still run out of steam. This is why the concept of “New Year’s Resolutions” have a negative connotation – they are rarely accomplished.
What is the best way to accomplish goals? On Pinterest, we can download any number of “goal-setting” printables to keep us focused in the year ahead. However, I’ve realized that my difficulty in goal setting is not sticking to the goals but in the actual goals that I was setting.
When we allow God to infuse our goal-planning with His purposes and direction, we have hope in accomplishing our resolutions. We can marvel at the possibilities of using our talents, gifts and skills in the way they were ultimately intended. If we set goals that are purely self-seeking, they will never come to full fruition, because they are doomed from the start.
His plan promises to be better than ours. God is the divine instigator of all of our future endeavors. Isaiah 49:16 says we are engraved on the palms of His Hands. Our Heavenly Father loves us too much to encourage us to strive after “goals” that will eventually be hurtful. Imagine the frustration and disappointment in setting a goal that is self-seeking and therefore eventually destructive to ourselves…We must hold our every dream, goal and aspiration to the light of God’s will in order to see them clearly.
In college, my goal (although I didn’t always realize it) was to be successful and wealthy as an aerospace engineer, nevermind the fact that I was miserable and that my gifts were not well-aligned for that lifestyle or occupation. I’m so thankful that He stepped in when my goals weren’t aligned with His best.
So how do we set the right goals?
- Take a step back to see yourself as He does. When we stop to “think” of the great sacrifice He made for us, we have no hesitation to give of ourselves, knowing that everything we have is ultimately really His. As Timothy Keller writes in Every Good Endeavor, “If you see Jesus not as an example but as a Savior doing these things for you personally, then you will see how valuable you are to him. Meditate on these things, and the truth will change your identity. It will convince you of your real, inestimable value. And ironically, when you see how much you are loved, your work will become far less selfish.” Seeing our work in light of His sacrifice makes the concept of sacrifice second nature to us. When we see our intrinsic value as dearly loved children that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son for, we have new clarity.
- Prayer is the simplest but most important step. Pray for guidance in setting goals, that He will show you every step of the way. Ask Him how He wants you to use your time in the coming year and He will be faithful to guide you. “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord directs their steps (Proverbs 16:9).” I’ve become frustrated in times He doesn’t show me the final destination but only the next step. Looking back, though, seeing how far He wanted to bring me in so many areas, I know I wasn’t ready to know the final destination. It would have seemed too daunting and He knew I was only ready to hear that next step.
- Rely on His power in every step towards completion. Relying on His grace and strength is crucial and the outcome will be so much better. Relying on God means praying, “God, I can’t do this without you…I need you to take it and use me in it, even in spite of my fears.” I pray this often and God is so faithful to redeem my many shortcomings to honor Him.
Our lives seldom go the way we have planned…and that’s ok. It can be difficult to redirect our thoughts from “where we thought we would be” to “where we go from here”.
Spend some time reading over the following verses and ask God what He has in store for the following year, even if it’s just the next step. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how He so gracefully and intentionally directs your path.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
Be sure to subscribe to Renovated Faith for next week’s post on how to tackle and accomplish our God-given goals.
Til’ Next Time,