Step 10: Setting Spiritual Goals with Eternal Values

This means exactly what it says.  Every successful endeavor, divine or human, ordinarily comes from specific goals or purposes in the minds of those who set them, mentally or preferably in writing.  Goals extend from the uttermost good of achieving God’s eternal purposes in His Son.

When the believer can define his goals in life, he can pursue them “with a single eye.”  If he chooses to devote his life to the things of the eye and senses in this life, rather than the future one, it will come to pass.  If the believer chooses instead to live with eternity’s values in view, for Christ and His Kingdom, and perseveres in so doing, it also will come to pass.  When we describe someone as a “committed Christian,” that is what is involved.  Such a one “walks in the Spirit.”  The other “walks in the flesh,” being called in Scripture, “carnal” or fleshly (I Cor. 3:1-5.)

How do you set proper goals?  We suggest the following sequence:  Set down a number of goals in any order, but all within the over-all goal of glorifying God and obeying His Word.  These might include needed improvements in previously listed disciplines (devotional life, prayer, witnessing); or character goals (love, patience, faithfulness); or family goals (time profitably spent with spouse, children); or physical needs (losing excess weight, increasing stamina by exercise); or eliminating all debt and unwise installment payments (credit card abuse).

The idea that we should set specific spiritual goals for our lives is far from the thinking of most professing Christians.  They seem not to have thought, in any active, urgent sense, of doing such a thing.  This is in spite of their belief in God, their Creator.  But what was His plan or purpose for our lives?  Certainly He is the Great Planner.  “I have purposed it.  I will also do it” (Isa. 46:11).  There is nothing haphazard in this.  Nevertheless, there are many who think God, having created us, then simply released His creatures to whatever might happen, whether by “fate” or random choices.  This would not be conceivable with a Supreme Intelligence who is an omniscient Designer.

What of the child of God?  “I have plans for you, plans for good, not calamity, and to give you a future hope” (Jer. 29:11).  We are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).  That is an immense plan.  The Lord Jesus meticulously fulfilled every detail of Messianic prophecy according to the Divine Plan, the way of salvation, wherefore, a holy God could save sinners required an eternal plan.

Having said all of this, how should it apply to the way a true disciple lives?  We ought to have spiritual plans and goals for our lives which are in accord with God’s will.  Is this not entirely up to the Holy Spirit, apart from our response?  Not true.  It requires man’s cooperation with the Spirit.  If not, we all would be “spiritual,” which is also not true.

What kind of spiritual goals should we have?  He wants us to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).  He wants us to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus (II Pet. 3:18).  He wants us to have right priorities and then live daily according to them.  These are:

    1. God and His Kingdom must be first (Matt 6:33).

    2. The eternal takes precedence over the temporal (II Cor. 4:18).

    3. The spiritual takes precedence over the physical (Matt. 6:19-20).

    4. People take precedence over things (Mark 8:36-37).

Setting spiritual goals is only the first step.  How will these goals best be achieved?  By a systematic series of steps carried out preferably with an ongoing accountability to someone you respect as godly and spiritually discerning, who will give you the time.  The steps and enabling forms are attached to this introduction.  

It should be noted that those who seek training in professional or business careers or higher education (even professional sports) routinely make systematic plans for achieving secular goals.  Why not spiritual goals for disciples seeking supremely to please God?

There should be means, markers, dos and don’ts on the way of goal achievement.  These might include:

    1. Things you need to stop.

Excess sleep, prolonged use of the telephone or cell phone, idle talk about inconsequentials, especially the sin of procrastination; “junk reading.”

    2. Things you need to start.

        Witnessing regularly, written intercessory prayer lists, written applications from Scripture, a systematic, daily “to do” list.

    3. Things you need to read and hear.

        Solid reading (be a reader), good audio or video tapes, using research sources (the library, internet, concordances, dictionaries).

    4. Things you need to meditate upon about the Lord Jesus.

        Your model also should come from observing the lives of godly people.

Here are some hindrances to setting spiritual goals:

    1. Not convinced of their necessity.

        You would rather “fly by the seat of your pants.”  I have lived this long without it.  Why now?

    2. Not specific enough; just generalities.

Choose a better prayer life.  Would you even be sure God answers your prayers in this area?  Are you just hoping, dreaming, or taking action?

    3. Do you have unresolved problems?

        Character deficiencies, “weights,” debts, excess poundage, lack of skills.

Here are some orderly steps to be monitored by the disciple-maker himself or herself.  

    1. Write down your analysis in the Personal Goal Review Sheet.  This tells you where to go.  Determine goals in order of need for your life.

    2. Schedule strategic supporting activities.  Keep in mind your priorities and rate them ABC.

    3. Draw up a plan for your three most important goals.

    4. Consider the Scriptural basis for each goal.

These should be your goals, not decided by another person or imposed.  Consider the time each goal might take to achieve.  Set deadlines for each, at least one for intermediate progress.  Make your goals realistic and attainable, as well as challenging.