Goal setting… No matter what context, we seem to be regularly encouraged to set goals. You’ll likely be asked more than once in your life, “What’s your 5-year plan?” It seems a good idea to set goals. To give yourself something to strive for. Sometimes my goal can be as simple as getting my house clean before Monday.
As with everything in the life of the Christian, it is vital to have a Biblical approach to goal setting. To be sure that whatever it is you’ve purposed for your day, your week, your life will be honoring to God. And that the plans you make to reach your goals will be directed by God. As the Bible says, “We can make our plans, but The Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 9:16)
Certainly the most important goal outlined in the Bible is the goal of eternal life. There is only one plan for that goal – and that is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone. So before you sit down and outline any other goals, be sure you know you’ve gotten that one taken care of. Be sure that you’ve acknowledged your need for a Savior and that you’ve asked Jesus to come into your life and rescue you from the path to destruction.
Once you’ve got that settled… It seems responsible to set other goals. So how can we make sure we’re goal setting with a Biblical perspective? The Bible does have some general guidelines about goals that are helpful. They can be the basis for your own personal goals, whether short term or long term.
First of all we need to ask ourself if our goal pleases the Lord? (2 Corinthians 5:9) Sometimes the answer to this is obvious. If you’re goal is to share the gospel with as many people as possible (which, by the way, should be one of your goals) you can say pretty definitively that it is pleasing to the Lord. Other times it might not be as obvious. Like my goal to have my house clean by Monday. Based on what I know about the Bible and about being a Godly woman (Proverbs 31), I can determine that this is a Biblical goal. (As long as I don’t forget to love the people that live here while I’m busy cleaning.)
The same can be said about goals related to success or financial security. If your success is obtained honestly by using the gifts and talents God has given you, and not by undermining other people’s success, then the Lord will be pleased. Just don’t forget to allow him to be in charge of the plans and to praise him for the ups and the downs that come along the way. And don’t forget about the people that God places in your path as you go. Your family. Your neighbors. Your co-workers. You might be thinking about the trip up the ladder of success but Jesus is thinking about the souls you can impact for him as you climb.
The Bible also talks about the importance of making your own living and not needing to depend on others for your needs, so if your goal is related to responsible financial planning then the Lord will be pleased. But be sure to remember to tithe to your church and give to those in need. And don’t let yourself fall in love with the money. The Bible clearly warns us about loving money: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
There are a couple of other passages in the Bible that can be good litmus tests to use when we’re setting goals.
Most importantly, “Let love be your highest goal.” (1 Corinthians 14:1) Never let any goal that you set overshadow your love for God or for the people in your life.
And here’s a helpful guide. Kind of like a goal summary.
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
As with anything we do in life, if we use the Word of God as our guide we can be assured that we’re on the right path.