As this year begins to draw to a close, many of us look excitedly toward the possibilities of the next. I am a goals oriented person, and this is the time of year when I begin to solidify my objectives for the next twelve months. It is also a time of reflection to review the previous year’s goals, to see what I did well and what I could have done better. Nothing is as exciting to me as a new beginning, a chance to achieve anew those things that are most important to me. If you’ve never set goals before, stick with me as we look at how they can be important to becoming the person God has created you to be.
Something I’ve learned over the years is that living a balanced life is crucially important, and I set goals each year in the following eight areas of my life: spiritual, health, relationships (spouse, family, and extended family), friends, finances and career. Here’s the key: each area must somehow tie into my spiritual goals or else they are not goals worth pursuing. A balanced life is important, but it means nothing if it does not contribute to my becoming someone who increasingly looks like Jesus Christ.
Anything we pursue in this life is futile; only those things that have eternal value are worth doing. Too often we chase goals informed by materialism or the American dream, but these will only lead to disillusionment and regret. As followers of Jesus, our mission is to pursue Him and to reflect His light to others. Everything else we do must in some way contribute to that mission or we are off course and outside the will of God. Anything we do that puts us at odds with the teachings of the Bible is also a step off course. Regardless of our personal desires, even if we happen to achieve them, the work is useless unless its foundation is built on Christ (Matthew 7: 24-27).
I believe it is important to set goals and to aspire to achieve them. However, make certain that whatever you endeavor to do in some way contributes to the work of the Kingdom. We should seek to develop more loving relationships with people because scripture instructs us to do so, and this in turn allows us to demonstrate the love of Christ to others. The better we maintain our bodies, the more capable and ready we will be to spread the Word of God throughout the world. As we achieve higher levels of financial success, we will be equipped to give more to those who are in need. Every goal you set should be accompanied with an explanation of why it would be important in the kingdom and how you will use the achievement to further the mission of Christ.
I encourage you to set aside some time before the end of the year to think about how you will live your life in the next twelve months. How would you like your life to look different? In what areas are you lacking spiritual direction? Is your life in balance, or are you emphasizing some aspects while neglecting others? As you create your goals, be sure to jot down a few small, simple steps you can take towards their achievement; as you accomplish those steps throughout the coming year, you can write down some new steps to carry you forward. If goal setting is new to you, I’d love to help you get started; just drop me a note (email@example.com). Acknowledge God in everything that you do (Proverbs 3:5-6), and always seek His kingdom first (Matthew 6:25-34). Setting goals with Jesus in mind will speed your development into becoming the man or woman He has created you to be.