Setting and achieving spiritual goals can either sound very easy or very hard. Somewhere in between, are some steps to set spiritual goals you can actually attain and that will have meaning to you.
I believe that setting any type of goals – personal, spiritual, health, work – requires the same foundation. That foundation is ‘why?’ As we go through the steps to setting spiritual goals, we need to know what is truly motivating us.
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.
Setting and Achieving Spiritual Goals
As we enter into a new year and a new season, there are clear steps you can take to set the right spiritual goals and make progress towards achieving them.
- Start writing what is in your heart and spirit and find your why.
- Put away all condemnation and look at yourself from God’s point of view
- Pray over your goals and ask ‘why’ again.
- Narrow your goals to ten or less and write out your ‘why’ for each one.
- Take one-at-a-time and make it SMART
- See the end from the beginning – see what the end result will be – that’s your why.
- Determine the tools you need to accomplish this goal – Scriptures, prayers, accountability.
- Be flexible and leave the process in God’s hands.
Step One – Start Writing a List
Step One in setting spiritual goals is to just start writing or typing out what is in your heart and mind. Don’t worry about organizing or prioritizing – just start writing. What do you hope to change or accomplish this year? Ask yourself some questions? What area of your spiritual life do you want to grow or change?
- Reading the Word
- Increased faith, hope, love
- Defeating Spiritual Strongholds
- Church or Group Bible Study attendance
There are many more areas but this gives you a starting point. Perhaps there is an area of your life, like prayer, that you feel is lacking and needs improvement so you want to set goals in that area.
Step Two – See Yourself Through God’s Eyes
Step two involves your mindset in your goals. Do not start from a mindset of what is wrong with you! Instead, start with the same mindset God has toward you:
He has good plans for you: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that” Jeremiah 29:11 The Voice.
He does not ever condemn you: “So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” Romans 8:1 TPT
His love is unconditional: “But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly!” Romans 5:8 TPT
He is not angry or upset with you. Instead, He is expectantly loving you and His primary desire is for you to prosper in every part of your life. So, instead of trying to fix what’s wrong, approach goal-setting as bettering what’s right with you! Our feelings of unworthiness are not the criteria for setting goals. Comparison is also not a criterion for setting goals.
Setting goals is based on the Word and the positive progress you are making in being conformed to the image of Christ. No one is perfect – absolutely no one. So, stop comparing, condemning, and judging yourself.No one is perfect – absolutely no one. So, stop comparing, condemning, and judging yourself. Set your goals according to God's will - not the world's! Click To Tweet
Everyone can always do or be better in every area of their lives. Paul said he was constantly reaching toward the goal because he had not yet achieved. However, he was not giving up or condemning himself – he was just continually looking ahead and pursuing Jesus.
I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 TPT
Getting better does not mean you are a mess, so put that thought away.
Renew and prepare your heart and deal with any mental strongholds or other obstacles in your heart or mind. Then proceed forward in victory!
Step Three – Pray
Step three is to take what you have written and pray. Take what you have written to God and ask Him to show you what matters to Him. Ask Him to give you guidance. If you don’t hear a specific word, just start reading over the whole thing again. As you do, pay attention to what sparks life and hope in you.
Again, don’t look at this as fixing what’s wrong – you are making yourself more and more like Jesus. That’s very different from approaching this as if you are trying to sort through a disaster area to find something worth saving!
As you read through what you’ve written, there will be some things that have a deeper meaning to you than others. Focus on those. You will also find you probably have some duplicates. If you have lots of goals/ideas written down, begin the process of narrowing by crossing out and combining.
Step Four – Narrow the List
Step four is to get down to ten or fewer goals. You can’t change everything at once and it’s doubtful that everything needs to change. There are parts of your spiritual life that are already growing and prospering.
Now, look at your spiritual goals and ask the question again – Why? If you set and accomplish this goal, what will it change in you and/or others? Why does this matter? You might find that one goal is there only because you don’t feel good enough. That is comparison. Instead of doing something to feel better about yourself, do it to be more like Jesus.
It is very true that we must all implement spiritual disciplines in our lives. Things like daily time in the Word and prayer are necessary for every Christian to grow, remain strong, and be like Christ. Your goals may have to do with strengthening those areas. But, it’s important to answer the “why” in relation to you personally.
I will give you an example. At one time, I did a study on prayer and some of the great prayer warriors of the past. People like Praying Hyde – a man who prayed so much that he had callouses on his knees because he prayed for hours and hours. I read books and studied and felt more and more unworthy because I didn’t pray that long or have the results others had. I had set out to be like someone else. No surprise, that didn’t work very well which made me feel even worse about myself.
Here is what I learned. I like to pray at various times throughout the day. Some of my best times of prayer are when I go to bed at night and when I ride my motorcycle! If someone or something comes to mind during the day, I pray. I pray multiple times every day. No books told me about that. I pray but I can’t do it like someone else. If you have young children, a full-time job and other responsibilities, you may not be able to pray like Praying Hyde either! That’s ok. Don’t set a goal to be like someone else.
Paul encouraged his followers to imitate him and that’s a good thing. It’s also good when we have friends or mentors who challenge us to be more than we are right now. They set an example and we want to follow it. That’s a great idea. You can imitate someone in regard to what they do, but maybe not how they do it. Not all of Paul’s disciples became Apostles or leaders like he was. However, they did become better followers of Jesus and that is what really matters.
As you look at your goals, the ‘why’ is very specific to you personally. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Spiritual growth is a matter worked out between you and the Holy Spirit. Trust that He will guide and help you. You aren’t trying to please anyone. Unless, you’re living in sin, God is already ecstatically happy with you and rejoicing over you with joy
The Eternal your God is standing right here among you,
and He is the champion who will rescue you.
He will joyfully celebrate over you;
He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband.” Zephaniah 3:17 The Voice
Keep that in mind as you set your spiritual goals.
Now, one-at-a-time, start writing out your ‘how.’ If you are going to read the Bible more, how are you going to do that?
Step Five – Create SMART Goals
Step five is where S.M.A.R.T. goals come into play. SMART means:
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Attainable
- R – Relevant
- T – Time-based
Keep these steps simple and make sure that their foundation has your ‘why .’ Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about this area or goal? Why does it matter? What will be changed in you and the world around you?
Answer those questions and then work on the SMART aspect of each goal. You need to be specific. Just saying, “I will pray more in 2020.” is pretty vague and there is no way to know if you achieved it or not. Will you pray at a certain time each day? Will you pray for a specific amount of time each day? Will you be praying about a specific topic each day?
The Attainable aspect of your goal is very important because there is no point in setting a goal you can never achieve. If you work full time, it’s doubtful you are going to be able to pray for an hour everyday unless you are single and have no children or other involvements. However, maybe you could pray for 20 minutes each morning, 10 minutes at noon, and 10 minutes in the evening. Then you can add praying while you are commuting. In order to keep from being discouraged or feeling like a failure, make your goal attainable. You can always build on it later!
Instead of deciding you’re going to read the entire Bible in February, you might want to consider spreading that out a little. Then create a calendar with your daily reading schedule.
There is one exception. If God specifically speaks to you and says, “I want you to read the entire Bible in February,” then you need to do it. Without question, He has a reason for telling you this.
Every step of setting goals is to be accompanied by prayer and listening to that inner voice.
Within your heart you can make plans for your future, but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.” Proverbs 16:9 TPT
Step Six – See the End from the Beginning
Keep going back to your ‘why.’ If God said so, that’s your why. If a goal sparks life and excitement in you because you can see what the end result will be – that’s your why and it is Step six – see the end from the beginning.
Spiritual goals can seem a little vague at times. Saying I want to be more like Jesus is rather hard to measure! However, if you take it in small bites, you can measure your progress. Perhaps you have found yourself being short-tempered with others and your goal for 2020 is to conquer your anger. That’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. There is also a really good ‘why’ behind it. Because the Word says:
My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry, for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteous purpose.” James 1:19-20 TPT
You measure it by journaling your feelings and level of anger. You can set out some specific tools to conquer your anger – scriptures, prayers, positive affirmations, and even having an accountability partner.
Step Seven – Gather Your Tools
Establish the tools you need to accomplish your goal. It’s not enough to just say – I won’t get mad anymore. You have to figure out what you will do instead of spewing your anger out at others or treating them badly.
What makes you angry? Why does it make you angry? Is there something going on inside you that is the true source of anger? Those are all things you can work through this year to conquer your anger.
Step Eight – Be Flexible
Flexibility is the final thing to add to your goals! You don’t use flexibility as a way out of accomplishing your goals. Flexibility is part of attainability. Life happens and you are not always in control. Circumstances come that you could not foresee and cannot change. This means you need to be flexible and willing to make adjustments. Perhaps your goal was to write a book this year but sickness came and you spent weeks or months unable to do anything.
Rest in God and put your goals in His hands. In 2014, God told me to write. I wasn’t sure what it all meant but I began praying and decided to start. In July of 2015, my husband was killed in an accident. For many months, I could not write. Then, just when I thought I could start again, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Again, I was so sick that I couldn’t write. I just had to leave that goal in God’s hands even though it was something He directly spoke to me.
Finally, in 2017, I published my first book. In 2018, I started my blog, Women Ministering. I was actually better equipped to write because of what I had gone through. If life happens and your goals have to be postponed, rest in God. Do what you must do and never allow the delay to be a source of frustration, anger, or self-condemnation. God will use it if you let Him.Set goals that get you closer to God's will for your life! Click To Tweet
Set and Achieve Your Spiritual Goals this Year!
You can have one goal or ten, the number doesn’t matter. What matters is that your spiritual goals build you up, give you joy, and accomplish God’s will in your life.
I pray that you will find your “why” in every area of your life. Here is my ‘why.’ I write because I have a deep desire to see women flourish in every area of their lives and to see women in ministry set free. That’s why I do what I do and it gives me great joy. I pray you find that same empowering motivation.