Letting God In On Your Goals

I’ve never really been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I guess it always felt phony, like I was trying to reform, conform, or transform myself; attempting to make myself someone new, someone different, someone who I naturally wasn’t. I also didn’t want to be labeled as part of the crowd who gives up on their resolutions within two weeks, since statistics show that is what happens to most people.

I have, however, always been a goal-oriented person, or maybe just a downright stubborn person. When I’ve set my mind on something, I’ve always gotten it done, made it happen. But, I’ve struggled with this because while I like the feeling of achieving my goals, I don’t want to be so ambitious, so driven, so focused, so type-A, that I put blinders on and close myself off from what God has for me.

Desiring to remain a goal-oriented person, but also be inside of God’s will in my goals and endeavors, last year (2013) I decided to try something new for the goals that I set for myself. I wrote down my goals, as have done for the past several years, using the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) format that many highly successful people attribute their success to, and recommend as the way that leads to the highest percentage of achievement. But, in setting my goals, I did something different that ended up bringing me more peace of mind and satisfaction than in years past; I set two goals for each goal, an attainable goal and a stretch goal. For example, I wanted to lose weight and I wanted to lose it in time for my 20th high school reunion. So, I set one number that I knew I would be excited to reach and that was definitely possible, and I set a second number that I knew I would be on cloud nine if I could reach, but wouldn’t be discouraged if I didn’t reach it. An additional example is that 2013 was the year of completing my doctorate degree; there was no way I was going to let the year come to a close without having defended my dissertation. In January when I started writing my dissertation I didn’t know all that God had in store for me for the year, so I set two timeframe goals, one that would bring me absolute delight if I could reach it, but that would definitely be a stretch, and one that was more easily attainable but would still have me reach my overall goal of completing my Ph.D. in 2013.

While I did not reach the stretch goal in either one, I did reach the attainable goal in both. I was victorious and could acknowledge and celebrate my successes in both goals, knowing that I had committed my goals to the Lord and released my hold on the reins, so that He could guide me through my goals from start to finish. The experiences allowed me to know that God cared about me and that He could be trusted to bring the desires of my heart to pass.

Be Nimble

Your life is not your own. You have been called to surrender your life, your desires, your agenda, your hopes, and ask God to implant in you the desires, agendas, and hopes that He has for your life. Not at all an easy thing. In fact, it’s actually quite mysterious. There is no road map, no GPS. It means setting out every day with no preconceived expectation of what the day will bring. This is hard to understand, especially for our Type A, ambitious, driven culture. We are planners. We see life as a chess game, knowing our strategy three or four moves ahead. Yet, God calls us to surrender in a way that allows us to be nimble, to be able to respond to an opportunity that we could not have seen coming.

Craig Groeschel, pastor of Lifechurch, the largest church in the U.S., talks about how he no longer does strategic planning for the church because he doesn’t want to be boxed in and miss an opportunity by limiting themselves to what is outlined in a planning document. The faith that is required in this approach is one that is not for the lazy. It is not a sit back and wait to see what happens type of posture. It is a faith that goes to God before anything else that morning and asks for God’s explicit guidance and God’s hand to be on that day and all that it entails. It is a faith that doesn’t ask God how something is to take place, but simply asks what one step you should take this morning to move toward what the Lord has for you today. Scary? Yes. Especially for people who want to have that 10-year plan. But, if you’re honest with yourself, doesn’t trying to create that 10-year plan actually bring more stress into your life than if you simply choose to live in the present, one day at a time. When you think about a 10-year plan you start to think about all of the “what-ifs”. What if you make the wrong decision about something? What if you pass up an opportunity? What if you don’t give 110% in that particular thing? You start to freak out that if you don’t do this and if you don’t do that, then you won’t attain the goals outlined in your 10-year plan and all will be lost. In reality, you are called to something much more simple. You are called to give up your agenda and ask God for His agenda for you. Craig Groeschel says, “When we show God our faith, he shows us His Faithfulness.”

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I am a professional working woman who desires to lean in to my career in order to grow in and express my love for God, express my love for God’s people, and fulfill His purposes for my life.

I do this through exploration and discovery, with a heart that is open and seeking.

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