Many times, my kids and my wife tease me for being so “principle” oriented in my life and my communication. I’ve always believed that people can make better decisions if they seek to apply good principles (truths) rather than seeking to accomplish a specific end. I rarely deviate from that basic message when I speak!
For example, many people dread goal-setting because they feel bound by the sentence on the page or the unreachable dream (lose 25 pounds, save $3,000, pay off the credit card debt, etc.) once they write it down. The specific end, or the black and white goal on the page, is frustrating because it stands alone: without a principle or a truth to back the goal.
In my teaching on goal setting, I often describe a goal as a “statement of God’s will for me.” When I say that, I mean that setting goals is a reflection of my interaction with God in my personal devotion times. During those times, the Lord often impresses upon my heart a particular direction that He wants me to follow. As a believer, if I am walking in communion with God, I can trust that His call on my life and His direction for my walk is the compass I can depend on to direct my action and my energies. Therefore, when I sit down to “set goals,” I am not pulling independent wishes about self-improvement from the air; rather, I am referring back to the places where God has been leading me and seeking to define the direction He wants me to take.
If you are one of those people who has always dreaded goal setting or who has set goals and then failed to accomplish them, I would encourage you to take a step back and ask whether those goals have been a reflection of your dialogue with the Lord about His desire for your life. When I set goals for myself that flow out of what I know to be His area of focus for me, those goals are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and pursuing those goals becomes part of a walk of obedience for me.
I am a firm believer in goal setting and in modeling intentionality for my family. As a father, it is my responsibility to act out before my family the behaviors and attitudes that I wish for them to exhibit as they grow up. That means talking about my goals with my kids and talking about God’s role in helping me achieve them. When I verbalize my reliance on God, I acknowledge my need for a Savior for my children. I also have given my kids a chance to experience God coming through in our lives in a very real and tangible way.
So, if you’ve struggled with goal setting in your life, begin with a consistent time with the Lord and ask Him where He wants your path to lead. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” I Thessalonians 5:24 (NASB)