As this year winds down, I am sure that we all have began the process of setting goals and making plans for the new year. The process of goal setting for some can be boring, one bordering on a yearly ritual that has to be carried out. For others, it is a joyful process, one that paints a picture of a world of possibilities. The thought of learning that new language, travelling to the Bahamas or losing 50 pounds, are pictures that are too wonderful to resist, on paper. The real challenge occurs when you have to evaluate how many of your lofty goals you were actually able to accomplish at the end of the year.
I can say from my experience that I did not like the last week of the year in times past because of the above statement. Don’t get me wrong, I believed in setting goals but I would get discouraged and down right frustrated because most of the goals I set did not materialize. I had a habit of making “New Year resolutions” that weren’t really “new resolutions” because I simply carried over to the New Year, goals from the previous year I could not accomplish.
It wasn’t until very recently that I discovered what my problem was. I had a two pronged issue as far as plans and goal setting were concerned. The first problem was that I simply did not know how to set goals and secondly, I made my plans without really getting God involved from the very beginning.
The first problem was brought to light when I learnt during a leadership class organized in my church that goals needed to be “SMART,” meaning they needed to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. In times past, I just wrote down goals of what I felt I should accomplish without any prayers or thoughtful consideration of a plan of action. I made my plans and asked God to “bless” my goals. The result of this was disappointment year after year with the occasional “success” of one goal being accomplished. So during that leadership class, I learnt how to make my goals “SMART.” Here is an example, “I will read the entire bible in a year,” how can this goal be “SMART”? Well, we can say, I will read my Ipad bible or NIV chronologically etc (Specificity), reading four chapters every day (Measurability), from January to December (Time-bound). Evaluate whether this goal is attainable as well as relevant and there you have it, a “SMART” goal.
Although setting SMART goals is all nice and dandy, what I have noticed is that your ability to read your bible everyday cannot even be accomplished in your own strength. It requires God’s grace. This is where God’s involvement in the process is of utmost importance. Before a plan of action is set out to achieve a goal, you must ensure that the desired goal is God-given.
Exodus 25:9 says “Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” The tabernacle represented the presence of God with the Israelites; His presence with them was something that both God and the Israelites desired. However, the Israelites still had to build it according to God’s precise blue print to ensure that Gods presence went with them.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So God has plans for us, He has a plan for your life in 2012 and unless you involve Him early and often, you may find yourself setting goals based on where you think you should be headed which neccesarily may not be an area God needs you to focus on.
Let us look at the above scripture closely, the first portions says that God “knows” the “plans.” So the plans of God for our lives are known by God. God has the inside scoop on your life and He knows the best way for you to live a full life. God knows the plans for your life, marriage, ministry, business etc in 2012. God not only knows this plan but He has the plan. The goals and steps to accomplish Gods plan for your life in 2012 can only be found in God. The God ordained plan, if followed is what God is obligated to help you fulfill. God is not obiligated to help you accomplish goals He did not ask you to accomplish.The God originated plan also gives us hope and what does hope do? Hope helps us to set goals. Hope sets the goal while our faith gets the goal.
In meditating on this scripture, I noticed that we have gotten the process backwards like I alluded to earlier; we set our goals and then go to God to give us a plan of action or to bless the goals we set on our own. The correct way should be for us to submitt ourselves to God’s plan for our lives and then the goals will be set based on the “Plan” of God for our lives that year. The result of this is that God will give us a future, in other words, the future accomplishment or fruition of that God given goal is gauranteed because that goal originated from Gods ultimate plans.
I remember some years ago when my wife and I wanted to get married, we set the goal to be married in a certain year. Based on our plans, we were to be married in September of the following year and from our calculations, the minimum cost of the wedding was going to be $20,000 at that time. I could barely afford stamps let alone a wedding of $20,000.
So when the New Year began, my wife and I went around the Chicago area looking for possible venues trying to get a feel of how things would be. It was a struggle, until we surrendered the entire goal and process to God. We changed our prayer from “God, please provide the money for this wedding, to God show us your plan for our wedding.” Lord what specifically are you planning to do and how can we align ourselves to your plans?” it was that simple. The Lord revealed His plans to us and gave us new goals. Our wedding was no longer held in Chicago, we ended up getting married in June instead of September and by the way God provided the finances for our wedding.
I guess what I am trying to bring out from this write up is that we need to involve God in the process of our goals setting because we will never be able to accomplish what He has called us to do in our own strength. In looking at my goals from last year, I realized that the goals I was able to accomplish where the ones that I received from Him and ones that I yeilded myself to His grace to help me accomplish.
Psalm 127:1 says “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builder’s labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”
No matter how many goals we set, if our goals don’t emanate from God’s original plans for us, then it is going to be a struggle. So ask God today for His plan for your marriage in 2012, ask Him for His plan for that weight loss goal in 2012, ask Him for His plan for your finances in 2012. Don’t just make plans or set goals just because, get God involved early and often. When you do, His grace would be released on you to accomplish them. Happy God-given goal setting and HAPPY NEW YEAR MY FRIENDS