Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Goals are a tricky thing. It is easy to succumb to extremes, and in either direction. You can become goal-driven, or goal- deprived. Neither is ideal or healthy.

I spent the first third of my life being goal-driven. This was reinforced for me in a private school system where every day I began by filling out my "goal chart." A goal chart is not a bad thing, in and of itself. But the way my brokenness "used" the chart (I know this is the language of addiction) was I became very driven to achieve and accomplish. Indeed, by setting and reaching goals I graduated from high school a year early, and from college at the top of my class. The driveness didn't cease until the wheels fell off my life in my early 30s. My excessive goal orientation was an accomplice in my demise.

On the other extreme, the extreme lack of goals is not particularly virtuous either. God has created us with capacity to look into the future, set goals for ourselves, and organize our lives in such a way to achieve them. The Apostle Paul was "pressing toward the mark." To never put this capacity in motion is just as problematic as the overuse of this capacity.

Goals are necessary, but should be balanced with a clear reliance upon God. Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but yours be done." Solomon wrote, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." There is a balance here. We plan, but we also submit. We plan, but we also bend the knee.

How can you make goals a healthy part of your life? First, I would say, "Have some." If you don't have any goals for yourself, or your ministry, I would take out a piece of paper and write "Goals for myself and my ministry." Then I would get away with God and ask him to help you write some goals.

Second, I would take the list and put it in a place where you'll see it. Maybe place the list on your computer desktop, or on the wall near your desk.

Third, I would break your goals down into actionable steps, and put the steps on your to-do list. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Even a very large goal can be accomplished if you break it down sufficiently.

Fourth, I would transfer the steps from your to-do list to your calendar. Start putting actionable items in your schedule that get you taking steps your toward your goals.

Fifth, review your progress regularly. Put on your calendar times of self-review, where you can take readings on where you are at, and where you need to go.

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