Goals are important. But when goals become an idol, they imprison instead of empowering. How then, do we manage ourselves?
First, we must remind ourselves of the Lord’s admonitions to pray for our daily bread, to not be anxious, and to offer praise and thanksgiving in all situations. I find, for myself, that when I spend too much time obsessing about how far along I’ve gotten with my personal goals, it becomes much more difficult to thank God for anything in my life that isn’t attached to those goals. Sin alert!
Second, we must press forward. God is not a God who wants us to sit on our behinds and wait – we are exhorted to work hard, to use our gifts, to take more ground for His Kingdom. An attitude of gratitude shouldn’t keep us from taking action.
I propose this – why not sit down with our goals, in prayer, and work out a plan of attack with God? Then, having done so, we can set a time (once a month? once a cycle? once a quarter?) to review the progress we’ve made to those goals, and how committed we’ve been to our own plan of action. Consistent effort, intermittent review.
A praise journal is also a useful thing. I’m not very good at those – but I’ve started a little book where I write down the random bits that happen to move me along. That’s one of those God things, He doesn’t always give you the next blessing on your list, He gives you the next blessing on His! If I don’t write that stuff down, I forget. (This is a shameful lack of gratitude, but so – this is why discipline in recording is required).
Our society is structured to expect instant reward. This is a false economy of the mind and heart. Most reward isn’t instant, and training ourselves to desire instant gratification is training ourselves to be spiritual toddlers. Why, having been given grace, should we waste it on becoming more like this World? The World’s wisdom is foolishness to God. You know, I know, the real metric – do the right thing and God will sort things out. He will reward, in secret or in public, in this hour or in 50 years or in eternity. But the One Who is Justice personified will be just. It’s another exercise of trust in Him.
I’m passing on this because I got the mildest sort of spanking. Goals, I’m pushing towards, one of which is my weight. (Only one of many). But it hit me – I let my success or failure in that realm affect my mood. “Failure” means I give despondency a foothold. “Success” means I give way to pride. What of the other gifts that are being poured out on me? Nah. Not paying attention to those. -sigh-
The person who I am becoming, the one God is making me, the one my deepest heart wants to become, that person is wise. She speaks when God moves her tongue, she listens, she walks and watches and lets peace and silence indwell her. A deep well… but I can’t become that person while I let discontent and chatter fill my spirit. I have to make choices, I have to make commitments, to discipline myself in order to grow. And the thing is, God already made me that person. My job is to sweep the litter – the garbage – out of my life so that that’s the person who you see when you look into my eyes.
So. Today I will think about my goals, and I will make a plan, with God’s will, to work on the things I need to work on to get there. And then I will leave the rest to Him.