Setting Spiritual Goals
Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
Paul demonstrates that he has a goal in his life: the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The difference between success and failure in many aspects of life is often determined by whether goals were properly considered, set, and accomplished. Since we are involved in the greatest contest of our day, the good fight of faith (cf. Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Timothy 4:7), it is important for us to have proper goals and means of achieving them.
To properly establish goals, we must take three considerations into account: where have we been, where are we, and where does God intend for us to go? Each aspect is critical, for all three depend on the answers to the other two. We cannot know where we are if we do not know where we have been; likewise, how can we set forth if we do not know where we are?
Looking back is an important first step, for we can see our pattern of development that has led us to where we are. We can see how God has worked in our lives, redeeming us from sin through His Son so that we may devote ourselves to good works (Titus 3:3-8). We can pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and plan accordingly.
Soberly considering where we are currently is critical: we cannot base our judgment on where we would like to be or where we think we should be, but to establish where we are (2 Corinthians 13:5, James 1:22-25). The picture may not be as pretty as we would like, and it will show us where we need to improve– that is precisely the point (2 Peter 3:18)! Our attempts to plan where we need to go will fail miserably if we have the wrong starting point!
Once we have established where we have been and where we are, with diligent prayer and study, we can make goals for our spiritual growth and development. These goals will not necessarily be uniform; some may be short-term, while others will be long-term. All goals should point to Heaven (cf. Philippians 4:13), and should help to answer the question: what would God have me to be next year? In 5 years? In 25 years?
These goals must incorporate every aspect of our lives: as individual Christians, as spouses, parents, and/or children, as employers or employees, and collectively as a church. We need to establish exactly where we have been and where we are in terms of these roles, and establish from God’s wisdom in the Scriptures how we should proceed so that we may become better Christians, spouses, employees, and the like.
Goals represent one means to the ultimate end, which is to be a better servant of Christ Jesus (Luke 17:9-10). These goals must be made so as to be accomplished, and time must be taken in the future to consider the goals to make sure that we are growing as we ought. Let us consider ourselves and our faith so that we may continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ!
Ethan R. Longhenry