I have a lot of fears in setting goals. Maybe you do to. In thinking about long term goals I wonder, "How in the world am I suppose to know what is going to be and not be in 10 years? Who knows if I'll even be alive or if some tragedy happens and my dreams wont even be a possibility." "And what if I fail? And what if Jesus comes back before then? And will I even be healthy enough to do what I dream to do?" And then on top of my own fears I hear from others, "we need to live in the present." And a host of other things.
But something in me wants to fight past the fear and confusion. To do the hard thing and not give in to the easy. Something deep down wants to cling to Jesus and understand and see how He does. And even more then the fear and confusion, a big part of me wants to be pleasing to the Lord, to be a good steward. So every so often I need to lift my eyes to the end, to the big picture so I don't drown in the now. I need to bring myself back to truth, to what God says about planning. And here's what I come back to.
Psalm 20:4"He will give you your heart's desire and carry out all your plans."
As we delight ourselves in the Lord, he will make our desires line up with His (Ps. 37:4) But in order for Him to carry out our plans, there has to be a plan in the first place. And as we make effort to walk it out relying on Him each step, He will redirect us as needed. Just as Psalm 37:5 says, "Commit your way to the Lord! Trust him! He will act." The Hebrew word commit is a word picture of rolling a log down a hill. As it bounces around in motion, we are able to redirect it. If it's just sitting there passively you can't redirect it.
Psalm 143:8"...Make me know the way I should walk, because I entrust myself to you."
Proverbs 3:5-6"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
This verse is commonly misread as "lean not on your brain". But the Lord created us in His image as great thinkers. But because of the fall, we now think of things apart from Him rather than dependent on Him. Leaning not on our own understanding means to rely and depend on Him as we think. This verse is saying the opposite of what is commonly thought. It is saying to make plans/paths as we trust Him to lead our thinking.
Proverbs 4:7"Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." Wisdom is knowledge in action.
Proverbs 14:15"A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps."
Proverbs 15:22"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."
Proverbs 16:3"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."
Proverbs 16:9"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."
We have a great privilege of partnering with the Lord. As we rely on Him, we get to make plans and depend on Him to make it possible to walk them out.
Proverbs 20:18"Make plans by seeking advice..."
Proverbs 21:5"The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty."
Isaiah 14:24"The LORD Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand."
The Lord is a planner and we are built in His image. God is glorified (His character displayed) by planning.
Isaiah 28:28 "All this wisdom comes from the Lord Almighty. The plans God makes are wise, and they always succeed."
Luke 14:28-33"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."
John 16:13"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."
Acts 15:22, 28"Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers...It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements..."
Romans 2:6"For God will reward each of us according to what we have done." And he who is faithful with little will be entrusted with more. (Matt.25:21)
2 Corinthians 9:6"Remember this: The person who plants a little will have a small harvest, but the person who plants a lot will have a big harvest."
Galatians 6:7-9"Don't be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up."
Philippians 2:25-26"But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus-my brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier, as well as your messenger and minister to my need- since he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was sick..." Example of Paul planning.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-2"Therefore, when we could no longer stand it, we thought it was better to be left alone in Athens. 2 And we sent Timothy, our brother and God's co-worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you concerning your faith..." Another example of planning ahead.
I also need to continually remind myself of examples from Scripture of people planning. So I think of Moses in Numbers 13 who though God promised to give the promised land, the Lord also wanted Moses to come up with a plan to walk out.
And I think of Joshua in Joshua 6 when they came up with a plan to take over Jericho even though they already knew the Lord would give them the city.
And there is Nehemiah who made extensive long term plans to rebuilt the temple walls. And David who made many plans to lead battles and even gathered around him wise men "Who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chron.12:32).
And even Jesus. He, God planned and prepared. Well, all of creation really. But thinking of Jesus walking on earth like us, He had the disciples go get the donkey to ride on for Passover (wouldn't you just love to know the backstory of that one. Why was the guy so quick to let someone take his donkey? Had the Lord spoke to him about it earlier?). And even that He was there at Passover to be the Passover Lamb was a plan, fullfilling a prophecy planned a long long time before hand, like an eternity beforehand (uh-oh, my mind just exploded in awe of God!) And His entire goal of coming to earth as 100% God and 100% human to seek and save the lost. And plan where He let nothing distract Him. (Here's a video talking about that.)
So to plan is wise. And right goals follow wise planning. But we can do nothing truly significant apart from the Lord so we need to yield and let Him have His way in our thinking. We need to do a throne check. (Here's a video explaining this.) As we are yielded/surrendered to the Lord, He does this super awesome thing. He leads our thinking. He illuminates our mind and aligns our thinking with His. (Though there is always a need to bring every thought back to Scripture and make sure it lines up.) The God of the universe helps us understand His will. (Here's a great article on how to know God's will.) Amazing! He the Shepherd helps His sheep to hear His voice.
So my fear of not knowing what life will be like in 10 years. Silly. God knows and maybe He will let me partner with Him in setting goals to be there, maybe not. But even if I die with goals still in hand, I will be found a faithful steward. Because really success in the eyes of God is being faithful and obedient to take initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results up to God.
That's why I make goals. It's easier not to and I might fail, but I want to be faithful to steward what the Lord has given me and being controlled by the tyranny of the urgent wont result in great return.
not all planning and goal setting is beneficial. Just making goals without the end in mind is like my little gerbils running on their wheel, activity void of real reward. If I sit down and make goals I pull out of thin air but aren't not actually working toward the end goal the Lord led my thinking in, then in my opinion, it's kind of a waste of time and whole ton of mental and physical energy.
Setting goals requires wisdom. It takes going big picture and then breaking it down to bite size pieces. It is making goals not based on things you can't control or on the outcome but on the performance.
So here's how I do it.
I have a when I'm 55 years old goal. I write down all the things that needs to happen for my dream of what I would like to do when I'm 55. Then I work backward. In order for each of those strategic things that have to happen, what needs to happen for those to happen when I am 45? (btw, I picked 55 because that is when all my kids will be 18.) Then I broke those down to when I'm 40 and then in the next year. And then ultimately into semesters (since I'm part of a college ministry, I think in terms of semesters. For other people maybe quarters would be better?) And then semester goals I use the SMART acronym. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound/Trackable).
Long term goals are purposeful and life-giving because they enable me to see outside the right here and now of cleaning puke off the floor and unloading the dishwasher twice a day. It helps me value the now for I can see part of the purpose. This season is a season of preparation. I am learning patience and communication and wisdom and self control and servant-hood and so much more. Things I will desperately need for then. Long term goals help me worship God in this season. They help me give my best now.
So I make personal goals to help me glorify God the best I know how. I fyou're not quite sure what your long term goals should be. Or if you're wondering how to use your gifts and ability to glorify God here is a video talking about it. Andhere is a worksheet to help you.
But not only personal goals. This can be applied to any ministry or activity you are leading. I lead a women's ministry so I do the same thing. In 10 years from now, what do I want to see happen and then work backward and break goals down into bite size pieces.
Hope you are encouraged to fight through the fear and confusion with me to be the best possibly steward with what God has entrusted to us for His glory.
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