Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
It was the great writer C.S. Lewis who once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”. Makes a lot of sense to me – setting a new goal for your life.
Since I was a small boy I had a clear goal of what I wanted to do with my life. All was going well, until God interrupted my plan with a better goal – and so I obeyed and set out on that journey.
Now, of course, no two people are the same. What my goal is may not fit your plans. And that’s fine. This topic is nothing new – motivational speakers have been talking about the need to set a personal goal for many years. The book shelves are full of them. Of course the big word here is focus. What is your focus on? Do you want to earn enough money to retire early? Goals are great because they cause us to stretch and grow in ways that we never have before. In order to reach our goals, we must become better people. And that is a strong motivator. We need time to reflect and evaluate – and some are better at it than others. But it’s worth doing.
Have you ever really sat down and thought through your life values and decided what you really want? Have you ever taken the time to truly reflect; to listen quietly to your heart; to see what dreams live within you? Your dreams are there. Everyone has them. They may live right on the surface, or they may be buried deep from years of others telling you they were foolish, but they are there.
Take time to be quiet. This is something that we don’t do enough of in this busy world of ours. We rush, rush, rush, and we’re constantly listening to noise all around us. The human heart was meant for times of quiet—to have a look within.
Paul’s example of goal-setting
In the New Testament we meet up with this remarkable man, the Apostle Paul. In Philippians 3 he says this:
“I know that I am not yet what God wants me to be.” [Anybody agree with that?!]
“I know that I’m not yet what God wants me to be. I haven’t reached that goal, but I keep moving toward it to make it mine because Christ made me and saved me for this. I know that I haven’t yet reached my goal, but there’s one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep my eyes focused on the goal so that I may one day win the prize that God has called me to receive through Christ in the life above. All of you who are spiritually mature should think this same way, too.”
Paul used the words “that goal”, “my goal”, and “the goal”. He hadn’t reached it, but the goal was out there. It forced him to keep going even when he suffered and ended up in jail, and his life was threatened. His goal? To do what Jesus asked of him – to be an apostle to the Gentiles. It was a thrilling, difficult, and burning driving force that affected everything he did and said.
Reduce your distractions
It’s easy for us today to get distracted with so many things to do. We hurt ourselves when we try to do too many things well. Focus is the key to an effective life. It’s not these 50 things I dabble in. It’s this one thing I do. The more you focus your life, the more powerful, the more effective your life is going to be. Think about cleaning your house. If you do one thing in one room, go do one thing in another room and then another and come back to the first. It seems like nothing is being accomplished. It’s better to clean one room at a time.
The world is full of distractions. There’s a lot of things to distract you. You can spend your life, you can waste your life, or you can invest your life. The greatest use of life is to invest it in that which is going to outlast it. You don’t have time to do everything.
Here’s the good news: God doesn’t expect you to do everything. Not everything is worth doing. There are only a few things that are really worth doing. The key to being effective in life as a woman of God, as a man of God, is to do what matters most and forget everything else. Goals focus my life.
Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 9:26: “I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air.” (CEV)
He is saying, I’m not playing around here. I’m not just pretending I’m boxing. When I box, I fight to win. When I run a race, I run to win. I’m not just messing around here with my life. It’s too important. I’m going to do something with my life. I’m going to win. I want my life to bring honour and glory to God. I don’t run without a goal. Any good athlete knows about going for the goal.
Look after all the parts of your life
There are many ways to approach goal-setting. Some people look at the big picture, then break goals down into smaller chunks, and some like to take a looser approach. However, no matter how you set goals, it’s important to consider how God made you in the process. God created you – and every person on planet Earth – with several parts. Like a pie with separate pieces, each part is critical to who you are; and all of these parts must be considered when you set goals.
The five parts of a person’s health include: spiritual, family, social, physical, work. If you fail to give each part the proper attention and care as you reach toward your God-given purpose, you’ll experience problems.
There’s no doubt that God wants you to fulfil your purpose – the key here is finding out what His purpose is for your life. You will make mistakes in setting goals – it’s OK. Because God wants to see you do His will, He will teach you the way to go as you walk in faith.
Psalm 32:8 (CEV) is a promise from God:
“I will point out the road
that you should follow.
I will be your teacher
and watch over you.”