Dr. Charles Stanley - Setting Goals

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Unless we give serious thought to our goals and how to reach them, our time, money, and priorities will usually be determined by others. Identifying some life objectives can lead us into deeper intimacy with the Lord. It can also result in healthier relationships with family and friends, and the peace of mind that comes from a well-planned strategy. As Proverbs says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Prov. 21:5).

Goals and motivation

To begin, I encourage you to write down each of your goals. Let me remind you to keep your mind and heart open to God’s desires for you. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” That doesn’t mean you are not supposed to make plans and set priorities. But it does mean that on occasion, you will need to adjust your focus as God reveals His purposes for your life.

Once your objectives are listed, write why fulfilling them is important. That way, you’ll know your motivation for each goal you set. For instance, your plan may be to pay off the mortgage within five years. Why? Perhaps you hope to live without debt or would like the assurance of a paid-for home should anything happen to your health or employment status. The why will motivate you to continue in your efforts when other things come up that could be a temptation to abandon that goal. What’s more, in order to achieve your ambitions, it’s important to have an idea of what your objectives are and why they are worth attaining.

Types of goals

I’d like to suggest a couple of areas to consider when setting goals:

Your spiritual goals are of utmost importance. Perhaps you need to re-examine your quiet time—or start one if you don’t already spend time alone with God. Plan when and where you will meet with the Lord during the week. Don’t leave it to chance. Unless you set aside time, other things will fill your schedule.

Another spiritual goal would be to join a small group within your church—such as a Sunday school class, prayer team, or support group that seeks to find God’s answers to difficult questions. If there aren’t any small groups within your church, you might offer your time and energy to facilitate one.

Serving is another spiritual goal to consider. Perhaps this is the year to stop enjoying the benefits of fellowship without giving back to your faith community—check out church ministries you could join to help your Christian brothers and sisters or people who don’t yet know the Lord. And if you attend a church but have never joined, consider becoming a formal member.

Character goals are vital to your growth as a spouse, parent, child, friend, pastor, boss, or employee. Try asking these questions:

  • What would I like to become?
  • What one thing would I like to see God change in me?
  • What character quality—if developed—would make me a better parent, sibling, friend, etc.?

My son Andy once shared his character goal with me. It has three parts:

  • A husband worth respecting
  • A father worth imitating
  • A leader worth following

And why did he feel those objectives were important? “That is what God has called me to be,” he said. “To move in this direction will lead to a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. To become these things will make my time on earth worth having been here. It will set a pace and direction for my children that, if followed, will ensure for them the best quality of life they can experience as well.” Andy knows why he wants to achieve this goal. That motivation will help him in the choices he makes and will guard him when temptation comes.

Get started

Determine the areas of your life that need specific goals, and go to work. Whether objectives involve finances, relationships, or health, don’t waste time feeling sorry that you didn’t take action sooner. Instead, begin to establish where you want to be six months or a year from now, and ask God to give you the strength to stay on track. Enlist a friend to hold you accountable and periodically check up on your progress.

To ensure that you use your time well, sit down and make a schedule for the coming days. When the year ends, you will be among the minority who ended the year with more accomplished and less left undone.

Adapted from “Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living” (1996).

In Touch is pleased to give permission to use this material for the Calgary Christian Business Directory.

 

 

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