I have spent a lot of time in my life wondering what God wants me to be doing. In fact, I’d even say I’ve wasted a lot of time wondering what I should be doing. I became very concerned with missing my “purpose,” and displeasing God. Thankfully, God has things to say about setting goals as a Christian.
God doesn’t leave us in the dark. Yes, I think writing in the sky or a flashing neon sign with a loud speaker would be great. Much more audible than that still, quiet voice inside us, or the words in the Bible. And, a loud speaker and a neon sign would require much less effort on our part than actually reading and becoming familiar with the word of God.
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So. Should Christians set goals? Should we worry about missing the mark and not fulfilling our God-given purpose as a Christian?
Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about setting goals as a Christian.
Should Christians Set Goals
There are many stories in the Bible about achieving goals. The people of the Bible were not complacent when it came to setting and achieving their goals.
Some of my favorite examples are Noah building the ark, Moses leading the Israelite’s to the promised land, and Paul planting churches and helping to bring countless people to faith, growing the church exponentially.
Sign up on the form at the bottom of the post to receive a free printable for 10 Bible verses about setting goals.
There’s one thing we need to realize about goal setting as servants of God. Like Noah, Moses, and Paul, our goals need to be according to the will of God, and always in submission to his leadership.
Setting Goals as a Christian
So what does it mean that our goals need to be according to the will of God? What does it mean to set goals as a Christian under the leadership of Christ?
This is why we have God’s word. As we read the word, we become more familiar with the heart of God. By reading the word, we are able to discern what is good and pleasing to God, and what is not.
If we set goals as a Christian, we also need to look at what is motivating that goal. Is our goal to become a multi-millionaire, buy a private jet, private island, and move far away from all the people and commitments that have been driving us crazy for years? That is not a good motivation.
What if my goal was to secure a new job so that I could take care of my family, have money for missions, and time to serve my community and church family? What if my goal was to become a skilled musician so that I could worship God and point others to Christ? Perhaps my goal is to start a business to gain financial freedom so that my time and funds can be released to growing the kingdom?
As Christians, we need to really do a heart-check when setting goals. We need to discern, by the scriptures and through prayer, if we are setting goals to please ourselves, or to bring glory to God.
Planning to Achieve Goals as a Christian
There’s a couple things we need to consider when setting goals as a Christian.
We must have a plan to achieve our goal.
Without a plan, we are being lazy. We can expect to fail without a plan.
If Noah didn’t have a plan for the ark, then I wouldn’t be writing this right now, and you wouldn’t be reading it.
If Mary and Joseph didn’t follow the plan to hide from King Herod, then we wouldn’t know the name of Jesus.
The apostle Paul planned out his missionary trips. Those weren’t without organization and strategy.
If God didn’t have a plan for the redemption of mankind through his son, Jesus Christ, then we would have no hope.
What do we see all through the Bible? Plans. From the Old Testament straight through the New Testament, we see people making plans, and we see God providing plans for his people.
If you don’t make a plan to achieve your goal, you can absolutely expect to fail.
Setting goals as a Christian needs to be thought out and planned.
2. Leave room in your plans for the Holy Spirit and will of God
On the other end of the spectrum from the lazy person who doesn’t plan, is the person who plans so excessively and stringently that they don’t leave room for God to work. Those plans and goals then become more about us building our own kingdom than God’s kingdom.
We need to remember that we woke up in the morning because God wanted us to. He willed the breath to enter our lungs. We do nothing apart from the will of God.
“Come now you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town, and trade and make a profit”- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” -James 4:13-15
That scripture above is really important for us to consider as we think about setting goals as a Christian.
When we’re setting goals the Christian way, things may not go according to plan. And that’s OK. Remember that God is at work, and remember that he’s a whole lot bigger than you and a whole lot smarter than you.
Here’e a couple Bible passages that remind us how big God really is:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah : 55:8-9
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him? The son of man that you care for him?” – Psalms 8:3
Setting Spiritual Goals as a Christian
We often get caught up in thinking about the goals that we can measure and observe… or that others can measure and observe. What we often want to do is have success according to the world’s standards.
As discussed above, it is OK to set those kinds of goals for our lives if our motivation is pure. However, there are more important goals for Christians. I’m talking about setting spiritual goals as a Christian. When you set spiritual goals, I believe that all our other decisions, confusions, plans and goals will fall into place. This happens because our focus is in the right place, and our motivation is pure.
Here are some suggestions for setting spiritual goals:
- Rest in the knowledge that you are loved and cared for by the creator of the universe. It says in the Bible that God knows that amount of hairs on our head. He knew us before he formed us in our mother’s womb. I’m amazed when I look up at the starry sky, and I see the moon and starts suspended there… we serve the God who created all that. He’s holding us. That’s powerful.
- Live knowing that you are made in the image of God, and so are the other people surrounding you. It’s easy to forget that God chose humans as the only part of his creation to be made in his image. This means we ought to love each other second only to the Lord.
- Live in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is inside of you. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of you and me. So why do we fear?
- Live with the confidence that you are chosen. If you’re a Christian, the Bible has made it clear that you were chosen and predestined as a child of God. He chose YOU. Do not forget that.
- Live like you have been set free. As Christians, we have been set free. You are not in bondage to anything. You’ve been given power and help to overcome sin, discern what is right, and you’re not subject to religious legalism. You are FREE. Live like it.
- Prioritize your time with God. Live like God is the priority you claim he is. Devote your time to him. Pray, read the Bible, seek his wisdom. Check out this post I wrote on praying scripture.
- Thrive and serve in a church community. We are meant to be in community with other believers. When we are real with other believers, we can see that special something inside of them that God has put there. We can encourage them, and they can encourage us.
- Be a good steward of your time. Our time is a gift. Let’s not waste it with trivial things or things that separate us from God. Check out this post I wrote on living intentionally.
- Identify the gifts God has given you, refine them, and use them. God’s aim is for us all to bring him glory, however, he gifted each of us uniquely. Don’t waste what he’s given you- use it.
- Give God the credit for what is good in your life. Sometimes it’s scary to share about our relationship with God. A good place to start is to just be open about how thankful we are to God for what he is doing in our lives.
So yes, set goals. But as you do, examine your motive. Who are you seeking to bring glory to? God or yourself? And first and foremost, make sure you’ve set some spiritual goals to keep you on track.
Below, you’ll find a form to sign up and receive a printable of 10 Bible verses about setting goals. Reflect on these as you make your own plans and goals.