The first time I heard the following quote by Zig Ziglar, it caused deep thought, although the concept is simple. “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” We don’t take a trip—even to the grocery store—without considering our destination and the purpose for going.
If we drove around in circles without a specific destination and purpose for our errand, we’d waste valuable time and fuel. (And we’d be hungry later.)
During the first month of a new year, we often set new goals as we aim for success. Perhaps recently you’ve considered the process and devised plans to exercise more, save money, memorize Scripture, or otherwise improve your life.
During New Year’s celebrations in the past, I’d seek God’s guidance for my life and set out to meet goals I believed He wanted me to accomplish. But somehow, along the way, I’d lose focus and forget some of them. I stayed busy and often finished projects, learned new skills, and met new people–all worthy pursuits. But some of the most important God-given goals were not met.
When I sought God’s help, He began to teach me about seeking and fulfilling the plans He has for my life. Allow me to share what I’m learning.
Three Ways to Meet God-Given Goals
- Follow the example of Jesus.
While reading John 17, I paused at verse four. Shortly before His death, Jesus spoke to the Father. He said,
I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.John 17:4 ESV
Like the earlier quote, this verse is comprehensible, but it provoked deep thought. Jesus accomplished the work God gave Him to do. Will I?
Jesus understood God’s plan, accepted His assignment, kept His aim on the goal, and fulfilled His purpose. God’s plan of redemption included Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of mankind. Mission accomplished.
Jesus only walked the dusty roads of this earth for about thirty-three years, yet He met the goal God had established by accomplishing all the Father designated for Him to do.
When I pondered this truth, I remembered God also assigned work for believers to do.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10 ESV
What a staggering thought—before I surrendered my life to Christ, even before I was born, God planned good works for me to do—works that would honor Him and bless the people He’d place in my path.
When I meet Jesus face-to-face, will I be able to say I’ve accomplished all He’s given me to do? How will I set goals and reach them in a way that pleases Him and reverberates into eternity for His sake?
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As always, the Word of God holds the answers to our questions and includes the life of Jesus which provides a pattern for us. Here’s an example.
A sunset-to-sunrise story from the life of Jesus illustrates the reason He accomplished the goals assigned to Him. One afternoon as the sun nestled into the horizon, many people brought the sick to Jesus. He laid His hands on each one and healed them. At daybreak, He went to an isolated place, but the people found Him and tried to persuade Him to stay.
When they attempted to hinder His departure, He said,
I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.Luke 4:43 ESV
Jesus continued His travels, not because He had no mercy for those who begged Him to stay, but because His eyes were riveted on the ultimate goal. Distractions and the pleas of others failed to divert His attention from God’s plan.
I imagined the tasks He could have chosen throughout His earthly ministry and how He could have spent His time. He could have physically righted more wrongs as He did when the money changers set up tables in the temple. He could have extended His lessons on the Scriptures, healed all the sick, or turned water into wine at every wedding.
But He didn’t. Jesus knew God’s truths, understood His mission and kept His eyes on the goal. Then He could say with confidence He’d accomplished the work the Father planned for Him.
Unlike Jesus, my eyes often drift away from God-designed goals toward tasks I want to do or feel I need to do. Jesus didn’t allow “good things” to hinder the “best thing.” His eyes remained focused on God-given goals. If I follow the example of Jesus, He will help me follow His plan.
2. Seek and follow God’s guidance through prayer and Bible study.
Through prayer and Bible study, we can discern God’s will for our lives, and with His power working in us, we can live in a way that pleases Him. His Spirit enables us to complete the work He gives us to do when we yield our weaknesses to His strength. He forgives us when we repent of sin and return to His plan. When our focus drifts or we’re tempted to go our own way, our wise Shepherd guides us toward the right path. What an exciting daily adventure to partner with Jesus as we do the work God assigned to us and meet His expectations.
3. Keep a journal about what God is teaching you.
Rather than praying and creating a finite list of goals in the early days of January, I recorded them in a journal along with questions, one goal per page. As God answers my questions and continues to teach and transform me, I’m adding notes and verses to each page. Recording truths He shows me secures my focus and helps me meet God-given goals for my life. I’m still learning, and I’m thankful God continues to teach me.
The year is still new. Eleven months stretch before us if the Lord wills. Let’s follow the example of Jesus by setting our aim on God’s plan for our lives, continuing to seek His guidance through prayer and Bible study, and taking notes as He teaches us. My prayer is that you and I will lean in close to our heavenly Father and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 ESV).