I started a new series of messages this past Sunday on goal setting. I’ve heard it said on different occasions by numerous “motivational speakers” (and preachers) that there are three kinds of people in the world - those that make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who haven’t a clue as to what’s happening! At Elk Creek, we’re riding the wave of some good, positive momemtum - God has truly blessed us with His presence saturating our worship services and a string of answered prayer. But I, for one, definitely do not want to be in that third group of people who are clueless … nor even in the second group who are just spectators - I want to be part of the group of people who are “in step” with what God is doing and, with His help, make things happen! To achieve this, you’ve got to have a dream, goals, vision, ambition - something for which you’re aiming.
I think there are four basic reasons why we should set goals that God would delite in blessing.
1. Goals that God would bless give us HOPE. A common denominator among Holocaust survivors - those who amazingly handled the atrocities of their experience in the camps - was their “forward look”; their reason to “go on”; they had a gaol that kept them going instead of giving up. Godly goals keep you moving forward when everyone else around you, and everything in you says “give up”. They give you hope to endure.
And goals don’t have to be huge for them to help you and give you hope. As a pastor, many times I’ve gone to the hospital to visit a church member and been there when their care-givers were “detailing” their recovery strategy: “… first, let’s just get you setting up in bed; then, we’ll try sitting on the side of the bed; next, we’ll shoot for standing up; a little later, we’ll strive for using the restroom on your own …” Small goals, but important - a goal doesn’t have to be BIG for it to make a change in our behavior.
2. Goals that God would bless help to FOCUS our efforts and energy. The secret of an effective life is focus. Don’t try to do EVERYTHING - do a few things and do them well. Besides, you don’t have time for everything, especially if you’re wasting it in indecision! Should I do this? Should I do that? Now? Later? When? How? When you know WHAT you need to do and you set a goal, things are so much easier.
How many times have you (and I) had those days when we stopped and thought to ourselves, “Did I get anything done today?” “Where did the time go?” The world is filled with distractions. And one of our biggest problems is the inability to distinguish between pressures and priorities, the urgent and the important - knowing what’s good, what’s better and what’s best.
God wants to give us hope and focus.
3. Goals that God would bless also stretch my FAITH. In fact, if you’re not setting and working towards goals in your life, you’re not “living by faith”. You’re not taking any risks. You’re on perpetual, spiritual cruise-control! In fact, I think it’s bold enough to say that goals are statements of faith - “I’m trusting God to help me accomplish this …” Until we trust God to help us do something that we could otherwise not do without His help, we’ve really never exercised much “faith”.
A good rule of thumb is to let the size of your God determine the size of your goal. Don’t base your goals on who you think YOU are - base them on what you think God is capable of. You’re thinking, “this is crazy” - AND YOU’RE EXACTLY RIGHT! Every great accomplishment started off as somebody’s crazy idea. But “God is able to do far more than we would ever dare ask or even dream of - infinitely beyond our highest prayers and desires and thoughts and hopes …” says Paul in Ephesians. God loves to do the impossible!
Finally, 4. Goals that God would bless build my CHARACTER. God’s number one purpose or goal for us, is that we grow up. He wants us to be like Jesus, He was the perfect example, model of what God want you and me to be. Our entire lives are a course in character development. And the reason setting goals are important is, that while you’re working on your goal, God is working on you.
Let Him work on you … as He is working on you, He will give you hope, focus and a good “faith-stretching”!