January brings the expectation of giving at least a passing thought to the direction of your life. If you’re like me, you gave up on resolutions years ago. I have not, however, given up on goals. These days my goals are stipulated. By that I mean I plan to work on them, with the understanding that much of life is out of my control, and because of the stage of life I’m in with four active children unable to drive, those goals will likely take longer to achieve than I imagine they will. With that in mind, here are three practical steps to make your godly goals a reality.
1. Give your goals to God.
Whether you want to lose weight or write a book or be a better mom, the first step is sharing the idea with God. Why is this important? First of all, it means you’re serious. I’ll be the first to admit that I bring some hairbrain ideas to my Heavenly Father, but usually I figure that out, sometimes even in the process of talking to Him about it. But you know, sometimes those hairbrain ideas come to fruition, because God is the only one that can make the impossible a reality.
About this time last year I thought it might be fun to “enlarge my territory” (1 Chronicles 4:10) and speak in states I’d never been before. I talked it over with the Lord and then my husband. Three things needed to happen. First, both my husband and I needed to get the time off work. Second, we needed churches that were willing to open their doors for me to speak and third, we needed a larger and more dependable vehicle. Once my husband and I knew what was needed, I presented my request to God again and one by one He opened the doors. Not only did I speak in churches in South Dakota, Montana, Utah and Idaho, but my family enjoyed a fantastic vacation along the way.
We give our goals to God because, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). This step helps you align your will to God’s. If your goal is God’s will, He’ll give you everything you need for it to happen. If your goal is not His will, then it won’t break your heart if it doesn’t happen, because you’ve given the goal to God, and asked Him to do what is best for your life.
2. Immerse yourself in the Word.
You might think if you spend time in the Word you have less time to work on your goals, but the truth is just the opposite. The Word helps you sift through what’s going on in your life so you can prioritize. It will also work as motivation.
A couple months ago I found myself distraught. Multiple things I was trying to accomplish were not going as planned, and I wanted nothing more than to put the covers over my head and disappear. After getting my children off to school, I crawled back into bed and opened my Bible to Galatians. Armed with a pen and notebook I let the Word speak. The first thing I wrote was “Who are you working for?” As I finished the book of Galatians an hour or so later I had a page and a half of wisdom. The last thing I wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9), was just what I needed to get out of bed and back to work.
Had I not opened the Word I would have moped the whole day. Instead the Word spoke to my heart, spurred me on and reminded me of the worth of what I was doing.
3. Enlist the help of a super power.
Even when our goals are in line with God’s Word and in agreement with our spouse, sometimes we’re just overtired and overcommitted. We need help. If we were in a movie or a comic book we’d call for a super detective or super intelligent being or force. We have something even better—the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Instead, the Spirit will help you produce the kind of fruit that will fuel you to keep going; fruit like peace (in the chaos), faithfulness (when finishing the goal looks tough), and self-control (which keeps me from spending the whole day on the couch or in bed instead of working toward my goal). The Holy Spirit is renewable energy as He keeps our thoughts where they need to be to endure and persevere. An added benefit is that He’s always accessible.
Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
2016 is upon us and that means new opportunities to right wrongs, make better choices and stretch our creativity. Whether you jumped in head first, or you’re still dipping your toe to see if you want to attempt a new goal, understand that God is not limited to this year. He is in the eternal time zone. Worthwhile goals aren’t just a fad. They are a lifestyle. When we align our lifestyle with God, His goals become our goals. That’s a goal worth setting and keeping in and of itself.
Amber Albee Swenson is a forgiven child of God, and that's what she writes and speaks about. She has written four books. "Bible Moms: Life Lessons from Mothers in the Bible" and "The Whisper Theory" are in print. "The Bread of Angels" and "Ladies of Legacy" are currently in different phases of publication.