This morning I had the honor and pleasure of teaching a lesson on Goal Setting. My husband and I are part of our church’s Prison Ministry, and on the third Saturday of every month we volunteer our mornings to the important ministry of encouraging those that are incarcerated. Our program is very special to me, because we reach out to such a vulnerable and often forgotten about group – incarcerated teens. This month was my turn to minister, and hours later I am still in awe at the way the Lord imparted a message of hope, faith and vision to these young men.
All week-long I’d been grappling with my lesson plan, trying to yield completely to the Holy Spirit and “get it right”. Some days when I studied I was flooded with ideas, other days I hit a brick wall. My Pastor always talks about how sometimes you will have to burn the midnight oil…and in this particular bible study, his words proved true. None the less, it was well worth it, I grew and learned in the process, and my trust in the Holy Spirit as a true helper was strengthened.
As we prepare our hearts for Easter, or what we Christians know as Resurrection Sunday, I’d like to share some of the key findings from my study. Considering the unfathomable sacrifice Jesus made for us, and the great cost He paid for our lives on the cross, I pray that some of what I share will encourage you to reflect on your own personal goals.
Nobody arrives at their destination in life by accident. Most of us are trying to construct our lives without any real thought or planning. We are like a contractor who is trying to construct a building without a blueprint.
Not having goals can leave us unsatisfied and frustrated with life. By setting goals you establish a road map for getting to your desired destination in life. If you never write out a life blueprint, then God will have nothing to direct you in. My prayer is that you will stop the construction of your life right where it is and go back and draw solid blueprints that will lead you where you want to go in life through the vision God has put in your heart. You have your limits, but God is limitless!
Step #1: Discover who you are in God.
When setting life goals, it’s vital to decide what type of relationship you want to have with your creator, and what level of involvement you want Him to have in your life decisions. Before I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life, my life felt like one big confusing experiment. For 22 years I tried life on my own, and got no where. All I ended up with was a broken heart, a bunch of insecurities, relationships with people who I should never have been associated with, and I became a single mother who unfortunately spent the first 2 years of her child’s life entangled in custody battles, restraining orders and just plain old confusion and dysfunction.
Once I allowed God to take over the reigns, and heal and transform me, I became a witness of His amazing ability and willingness to turn my life around and put me on track to achieving a better, more fulfilling and more successful life then I could have ever managed to develop on my own strength.
I am now happily married, I consider myself to be a woman of integrity and faith, one whom is whole, secure, and full of love and vision – and might I add, that after two and a half years of strife, distance and pain, my daughter’s biological father and I have developed a great co-parenting relationship, and she has a very loving and healthy father-daughter relationship with both of her Dads. And I owe it all to the loving grace and enduring mercy of Jesus!
Now with a better grip on life, I am able to pursue God for the things that really matter – my purpose. Don’t get me wrong, life still has its ups and downs, but I now have the Prince of Peace in my corner, and what used to rattle and shake my world can no longer conquer me.
As I discussed in a previous post, Why Did We Stop Dreaming?, God has a purpose for all of us, and discovering this and fulfilling it is what I believe to be the essence of life.
Here is what I believe to be the fundamental, defining truths about our existence:
God created us to glorify Him in all we do
God created us to be contributing members of society
God created us to grow closer to Him and mature spiritually
He wants to communicate to the world through us, this is why his gives us gifts, talents and passions – we all have something special about us that God can use
Once you know firmly who you are in God, you are well on your way to living a life of true purpose.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Psalms 32:8 – The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.
Step #2: Let go of the past.
It’s easy to beat yourself up over issues from your past, and assume that God can’t possibly use you. This is a lie from Satan that only results in discouragement. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your past is forgiven, forgotten, forever. God can make a great finish of a slow start. He saved each of us for a reason, to use us for His purpose, and to lead us to joy, fulfillment, contentment and eternal blessing.
Philippians 3:13-14 – I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Step #3: Identify the principles you want to live by.
How do you intend to conduct yourself? What are you willing to do, and not do? These principles are your guides for living, doing business, relating to other people, and relating to life. You must settle them in your heart and mind so that you will have standards to live by. The Ten Commandments are great principles that you can use as a starting point. For example, you could write: “On my way to my vision, I will not steal or lie.”
Exodus 20:1-17 – The Ten Commandments
Step #4: Set Your Vision Statement
Your vision statement is documentation of your purpose, your values, what you represent and your motivation. This sets the stage for your overall planning.
Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.
Hebrews 12:1-2 – Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Step #5: Create a plan
A goal without a plan is just a wish. God will direct your steps when you make a concrete plan to move toward something that He has purposed for you. You have to give him something to work with!
Ask yourself where you want to be one, five, ten years from now. Are you moving toward that destination, moving away from that destination, or simply standing idle?
During my study I came across a story about an atheist farmer. The farmer did not believe in God, and for reasons unknown, he decided to leave his farm to Satan in his will. When he died, and the lawyers attempted to execute his will, they were stumped. They went before a judge to rule on what to do with the property, and the judge decided that the best thing to do was nothing at all – to just leave the farm to rot away. Over the years the weeds took over, the elements of nature eroded the property, and the farm was left desolate. The moral of the story is this: doing nothing is the best way to allow Satan to destroy your dreams!
Write down your goals, dreams and ideas and continue to think and pray about them. You’ll be amazed at the way God will begin to open your mind to His purpose and vision for you. You’ll begin to see things that you’ve never seen before. Put them down on paper, read them over, think about them, pray about them, and begin to formulate ideas of what you want out of life.
This is a process of learning about yourself, growing in your relationship and knowledge of the Lord, and continually fine-tuning your understanding of the vision God has given you. Therefore, when you write your vision, realize that it won’t be a finished product. You will keep refining it as God makes your purpose clearer as the months and years go by, and as you experience spiritual and personal growth.
As the ideas start flowing, remember that this is the big picture – you can’t stop there. Next you will need to develop your action plan to make your goals become your reality. We need to set short-term, smaller, achievable, and measurable goals. Goals are the steps necessary to take you where you want to go. Goals keep us from being overwhelmed. It’s like building and eating a sandwich – built one layer at a time, eaten one bite at a time.
Objectives are the detailed steps of your goals – the who, what, where, when, and how. They determine what you need to do and when you need to do it in order to get to where you want to go. For example, if your vision is to become a doctor, and one of your goals is to go to medical school, some of your short-term objectives will be to choose a school, fill out an application, and start classes. I know that’s a very broad and basic example, but I’m sure you get the point I’m trying to make here.
Proverbs 16:3 – Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:9 – We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Step #6: Identify your resources, strengths and weaknesses.
You now need to identify all the resources you will need to accomplish your goals. What help do you need from others to fulfill your vision? What kind of personal associations do you need to have (i.e. a mentor, a friend with connections, someone who’s done what you want to do) —and not have (i.e. who do you need to remove from your life)?
Write down your weaknesses. What does your vision need that you aren’t good at? Don’t be ashamed of your weaknesses, because everyone has something they are not good at. God will supply other people to do what you cannot do toward your vision. You need other people in your life because your vision cannot be fulfilled by you alone. To fulfill the plans for your life, it is necessary to discipline yourself and submit to wise counsel.
Also write down your strengths. Who are you? What are your gifts? What do you know you are good at? Write down your answers, and then make plans to refine your strengths. For example, if your vision requires that you have to speak before large groups of people, you have to start stepping out and doing it. You’re probably going to be scared at first, yet God will give you opportunities to speak at different stages so you can develop your gift. You don’t even know what you can do until you have to. Some amazing gifts come out of people when they are under pressure.
I always had a fear of public speaking. Even though public speaking and communicating in general is a gift of mine, I always felt very self-conscious when speaking publicly. I felt like people were judging me. When God was ready to use me in this capacity, He started opening opportunities for me to speak at work and at church, and now, a few years later, I travel frequently to speak at national conferences. Most recently I presented before a crowd of 700+ people, something I never would have imagined I’d ever have the courage or ability to do. With God, all things are possible! I can certainly do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Psalm 138:8 – The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever.
Proverbs 15:22 – Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed
Step #7: Commit to your goals.
You will never fulfill your vision if you are not committed to it. You will need to make a specific decision that you are going to follow through with what you want to do, acknowledging that God may refine your plans as He leads you through the process.
Hebrews 11:1 – Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
In closing , I will leave you with some great sayings I came across that I think are fitting to the topic at hand:
- Sight is a function of the eyes, but vision is a function of the heart.
- Without vision, sight has no hope.
- Sight is the ability to see things as they are; vision is the capacity to see things as they could be.
- Faith is seeing the future in the present. Faith is vision.
Peace and Blessings,
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