My dad quotes this periodically, and it really gets me thinking about the future. About what I am doing with it. Hopes, dreams, goals… As a Christian, I want to be sure that I am using Biblical goal setting principles and stay focused on the important things.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Charles Dederich
The past is important, absolutely. Evaluating where we’ve been, and what needs to be changed, strengthened or gotten rid of. But the rearview mirrors in the car are much smaller than the front windshield for a reason. Looking forward, and making time for Biblical goal setting in your life and mine, is something we can’t neglect.
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What Does the Bible Say About Goals and Planning?
Honestly, Biblical goal setting can seem overwhelming, but let’s break it down into manageable pieces! If we look at a few Bible stories about achieving goals, we can pull some reasonable Biblical goal setting principles that we can apply today.
Noah (Genesis 6-9) was handed the detailed instructions to build the ark. So his “Goals and Planning” was done for him, right? Well, sort of. He still had to plan details for supplies and labor. Still had to trust God knew what he was talking about in the first place. He still had to persevere through what I can only assume was harsh criticism. He had to be diligent or it wouldn’t have gotten done. After all, it took a long time to build the ark.
Abigail (1 Samuel 25) had to decide quickly what the best course of action was to save her family and her King. I’m sure she counted the cost of failure, and even of success, not knowing Nabal would die. She definitely didn’t conform to her husband’s opinion. She achieved her goal, the king spared her household and kept himself free from revenge.
Nehemiah had a vision, he was heartbroken about the state of Jerusalem and wanted to see it rebuilt and safe. He obeyed and trusted God, did his research, asking the king for the resources needed, and he persevered against enormous odds!
Esther was in quite a situation. But she trusted in the Lord. Hadassah, Queen Esther of Persia, counted the cost and stepped out in faith. Esther’s courage in the face of her fears saved countless lives. I would say she was transformed, renewing her mind during her 3 days of fasting (and prayer).
Daniel. Well, Daniel’s goal was to obey God, and I believe he was so diligent in that because he delighted himself in the Lord. With that pair-Obedience and Delight, he was able to be diligent and persevere through some horrible situations!
The Christian Life Goal:
The Christian life goal is to Love God, and to Love Others (Matthew 22:34-40). Basically, to be a disciple of Jesus. Because he did those things perfectly, following him, studying him, is the best way to learn.
As we look at the following Biblical goal-setting principles, we must keep this goal as our focus. Every other goal that we set should circle back to this one here.
8 Biblical Goal Setting Principles You Need to Know
There are many Biblical goal-setting verses, but these 8 passages stand out to me as critical, and complementary. They work together in harmony. If you want to know how to write personal goals that stick, start here!
1: Delight in the Lord
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 NIV
If we spend time delighting in God, we naturally begin to desire what he desires. So giving us the desires of our heart will fall in line with the Lord’s will and desires. This can’t be neglected. It’s so easy to push it aside, “I’ll get to it later” or “I’m running late” “too tired…” I know. I’m there far more often than I’d like to admit. But I feel so dry when I skip this step. and (okay, I’m hitting pause. I’m going to go spend some time with him now. Then I’ll come back and finish writing this! BRB)
That may seem like it was a show, but it absolutely wasn’t. I trust in the Lord, and he reminded me as I typed that last couple of sentences, that I hadn’t spent any time with him today. And If I’m going to delight in him, I can’t read the Bible and beat myself up for falling short all the time. God’s not sitting up there scolding me 24/7. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He did that already. But that’s a whole nother topic for another day.
God’s word shows us his heart. Draw near and be loved! From the safety of his love, you can begin Biblical goal setting.
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2: Trust in the Lord
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6
Trust God. Not what you see. Not what you think. Not what the Pastor says. Trust God’s love. Trust the fact that he sees both the big picture and the tiny details. He doesn’t see things the same way we do and has a value system we can’t quite grasp. But God is Good, faithful, and worthy of our trust. If we acknowledge him in every decision, he will make our paths straight. Including helping us choose the right goals, and plan out how to get there!
3: Vision and Obedience
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.: Proverbs 29:18
Like Nehemiah, having a vision of what life could/should be, makes a difference. Why aim at a goal if it doesn’t matter. If you can’t see how it matters. Nehemiah was heartbroken over the danger to the holy city and the Temple. He prayed. Fasted. Then he was obedient to speak up when the king, the man with enough power to do something about it, asked him what the problem was.
4: Do Your Research
All who are prudent act with knowledge,
but fools expose their folly.” Proverbs 13:16
You can’t act with knowledge, or think before you act, depending on your translation, unless you do your research. Biblical goal setting takes knowledge (research) applied properly, with wisdom. Take the time to study up on your goals. The benefits, downsides, consequences of success and of failure.
5: Count the Cost
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28
Luke 14:25-35 is a call for discipleship. It’s an informed call because Jesus warns that you must count the cost up front, and be fully committed. Jesus’ half-brother James reinforces this in James 1.2-8. Becoming a Christian, and bringing our friends and family is critical. But it’s an enlistment into an army at war (Ephesians 6:10-20). Therefore, we must be prepared for battle. Count the cost, and throw yourself whole-heartedly into the Everlasting Arms!
6: Be Diligent
The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5
If we’re going to be successful in our Biblical goal setting, then we must be diligent. Persistent. Keep at those baby steps every day. The boring, monotonous parts that just seem to wear you out, that’s where it really matters. They probably worked on the Ark 300 days a year, for YEARS! If we can be diligent and faithful there, who knows what we can accomplish!!!
7: Don’t Conform-Be Transformed
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
We’re not to be the same as the world. We shouldn’t set ourselves up to stand out like a sore thumb, but we should be recognizable by our love. Being transformed by renewing our minds (delighting in the Lord), we’ll be able to choose love. You know, patience when you’re behind that coupon lady at the grocery store checkout or get cut off in traffic. Kindness when your kids are dancing on your last nerve. Not envying that other mother whose husband did the dishes last night, or put her up in a hotel for the night while he took care of the toddlers.
What does that have to do with Biblical goal setting? A, it is a Biblical goal worth setting and B, Transformation allows us the freedom to set Biblical goals. If Abigail hadn’t managed not to be conformed to her husband’s pattern and spent enough time with God to realize what a disaster David’s likely choice would be, can you imagine the consequences?
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7
Perseverance is rewarded. It’s not easy. But giving up? You might get a moment of relief, but really, you end up back where you started, or worse. Remember why you started, and what the goal is. If it mattered enough to start, it matters enough to keep pressing on. Or restart, if there’s been a hiccup.
Biblical Goal Setting in Real Life
If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, this all sounds great, but how on earth do I put it all together?
The secret? God’s grace. Understanding God’s grace has made all the difference for me. It’s so much more than just a free gift we don’t deserve! It is an incredible resource available to us right now.
Ready for some Biblical goal setting? Let’s go!
Related: 4 Tips for Setting Spiritual Goals
If today is the first day of the rest of your life, what are you going to do with it?