Lesson 4 Attaining Life Goals

God is a planner. What He plans He will do. “I have purposed it, I will also do it” (Isaiah 46:11b). His purposes are worked out according to His own will (Ephesians 1:11). The Divine plan covers the entire future, of which He has complete foreknowledge. In Scripture God set down prophetically the highlights of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus. He was the key to God’s plan for our redemption. At the end of His earthly ministry, the Lord said, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). There was nothing haphazard in what He said, what He did or where He went. He was busy doing the will of the One who sent Him (John 4:34).

The purposes of God reach down to the life of every believer also. “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB). God desires to see every believer growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3:18), then mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28) and ultimately conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). In short, we are to become Christ-like. The Lord has set down His perspective as to the way our lives should be patterned.

1. God and His kingdom must be first (Matthew 6:33).

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

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

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

When we see these purposes, or pattern our lives after His perspective, we will live our lives successfully by God’s standards.

Developing Goals (Where Do I Want To Be?)

A vague longing for progress, without any plan or specific commitment to action, is not a goal but a dream. To shoot at nothing is to be sure to hit it. Progress is made usually when specific goals take the place of generalized hopes. We must look to the Lord for guidance and depend on His enabling power. Yet this does not rule out the need for setting goals and defining necessary actions. A goal is an aim or objective to be reached or accomplished. For example, the goal of the Lord Jesus was to build His church (Matthew 16:18). To this end He trained and commissioned the Twelve Apostles to establish it.

Goals should be within the framework of Scriptural priorities (things of primary importance) and responsibilities. Our relationship to God (Matthew 22:37-38), ministry (Matthew 6:33), family (1 Timothy 3:4-5) and job responsibilities (2 Thessalonians 3:10) are major areas of consideration. Ask yourself: What do I want to accomplish in each of these areas? Is it eternally significant? Realistic? Am I overly concerned with tasks and not concerned about goals? Why do I want these things to come about? Are they selfish or God-oriented goals? What is my life purpose?

Next, these goals should be set in a proper time frame. When should they be accomplished? Can I set a reasonable time period for progress to be shown? Time is limited. Set your target for lifetime goals, long-range goals, intermediate goals, and short-range goals. Short-range goals should move you along the path to long-term ones. If you have no long-range or life goals, the shorter ones tend to lack significance.

1. Life Goals. When I get to the end of life, what do I want to look back upon as having been accomplished? A life goal will usually be broad, yet achievable. Example: “To know the whole counsel of God by mastering the English Bible.”

2. Long-Range Goals. Where do I want to be in my life 10 or 15 years from now, if the Lord has not come? Example: “To be skillful in the Word of God by mastering the New Testament, and gaining a broad knowledge of the Old Testament.”

3. Intermediate-Range Goals. Where do I want to be in two to five years? What must be established in my life? Example: “To master the major books of the New Testament and to gain a general overview of the whole Bible.’’

4. Short-Range Goals. If I had six months or a year to live, what changes would I make? What preparations are needed now, if I have longer to live? Example: “To gain a general familiarity of the Bible by reading it through in a year.”

Taking Inventory (Where Am I Now?)

1. Forces Helping. Analyze your life in reference to each specific goal. What strengths do I have that will help me reach this goal? What successes have I had in the past in this area? How can present positive habits help me? How can my present church environment and church leaders help me? What things in my current life style will be conducive to growth in this area?

2. Forces Hindering. What has to be changed in my life in order to successfully achieve my goal? What weaknesses have I had in the past in this area? What negative habits must change? What harmful relationships have to be changed? What changes must be made in my life style? What priorities are wrong in my life?

Designing Activities (How Do I Get There?)

Activities are actions we must take in order to achieve a goal. The number of activities required to achieve a goal will depend on the time range (short-range, intermediate-range, etc.) The type of activity will depend on the area of life involved. The activity(ies) must take into account any hindrances or problems that must be overcome.

If your short-range goal is “To build a consistent daily devotional life which strengthens my relationship with God and promotes fruitfulness in daily life,” then your activities might include:

a. Meet with the Lord each morning for consecutive study and meditation upon the Word, together with prayer.

b. Maintain a devotional notebook of entries for each day, with notations of text considered and personal application or insights about God. Plan to share with a mature friend.

c. Study key books on prayer life and applicational Bible study.

It would be difficult to carry out these specific activities without making substantial progress toward achieving this objective. That is the test of any series of activities.

Scheduling Activities (How Do I Use My Time?)

An activity is not “do-able” unless it can actually be scheduled. First, you need to complete a time inventory sheet to determine how you are currently using your time. Believers are exhorted about “making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 NASB). The thought here is buying up every strategic opportunity to use your days and hours for God. Time is something we are told to manage as carefully as money. People often say, “I don’t have the time.” The Bible indicates that there is time enough to do everything that God requires, but there is none to be wasted. How can we recover lost time and make better use of it?

1. Analyzing Present Time Use. Keep track of everything you do for one week, in 30-minute segments, on a Time Inventory worksheet.

a. Notice where time use has been excessive (sleep, meals, getting dressed, prolonged conversations, routine details).

b. Find the time-wasters. Where can you save time? Where can you consolidate activities? What can you eliminate?

c. What are you doing that is not a priority activity (TV watching, trivial reading matter, unnecessary involvements)?

d. Consult with others (mature friend, spouse) for suggestions. Where do they see you wasting time?

2. Making A Weekly Schedule. A time schedule must be completed to ensure all necessary activities can be accomplished.

a. Write down all activities you are presently doing and all activities you must begin in order to achieve your goals.

b. Estimate the time required for each activity and total the amounts.

c. Assign priorities for each activity. Mark the “Must-do” activities by “A.” These include routine activities over which you have no choice (sleep, work, etc.) and the activities related to your goals. Mark “should-do” activities by “B” and “can-do” activities by “C.”

d. Fill in your Weekly Schedule, recording the “A” activities first, then the “B” activities and finally the “C” activities. Activities with “C” and “B” priority may have to be eliminated or adjust to fit the 168-hour week.

3. Improving Time Use. As you make your time schedule week by week, look for ways to increase your time efficiency. Here are a few suggestions:

a. Divide your week into daily work plans. Devote a few minutes each day to write them down.

b. Evaluate your priorities. Are you accomplishing your most important activities? Set your priorities so that you get the most important things done, even if others are left undone.

c. Keep a “to do” list each day, assigning priorities. Cross off activities when done. Reschedule things not accomplished.

d. Dual activities save time. For example, when you eat lunch, invite a friend with whom you can share your testimony. Listen to tapes while driving your car. Memorize Scripture while washing dishes.

e. Organize errands and duties to cut down extra trips.

Evaluating Progress (How Am I Doing?)

How will you review your progress? There is often a breakdown in well-laid plans involving solid goals. We often fail to do what we commit ourselves to do, or we do not do it well, or we have not solved a major hindrance. There is a tendency to accept this condition and remain defeated unless there is a periodic review of progress. This requires that we have a mature friend, leader or prayer partner with whom we agree to meet and who has a copy of our goals. Even the prospect of this review is a stimulus. When there is a good, point-by-point analysis of progress, this is of further help. This review should lead to suggestions for change in some of the activities or in the goal. The one who has prepared these goals should be prepared to either carry through the commitment or to eliminate them from the schedule. Consider reasons for breakdowns:

a. The goals are unrealistically high. Remedy: Rewrite them.

b. There has been a lack of faithfulness in performance. Remedy: Repent before God and keep the commitment.

c. Some significant hindrance is identified. Remedy: Deal with it forcefully.

d. Too much has been scheduled for time available. Remedy: Reduce and simplify where necessary.


God is not so much interested in how long we live as how well we live. Jesus Christ began His public ministry at the age of 30. In three and one half years He accomplished all that the Father planned for Him to do (John 17:4; 19:30). The Apostle Paul was able to say, at the end of a much longer life, “I have finished my course” (2 Timothy 4:7). There was a crown of righteousness laid up for him. Will you be a finisher?

Attaining Life Goals (Part I)

l. What activity of God is emphasized in Isaiah 46:11b and Ephesians 1:11?

2. What are God’s goals for every believer (Romans 8:29; 2 Peter 3:18)?

3. What goals did the Lord Jesus have for His earthly ministry (John 4:34; 17:4)?

4. Identify Paul’s goals and the activities he pursued to reach them.

Goals Activities

1 Corinthians 9:19-27

Colossians 1:28-29

Philippians 3:12-14

5. How did Paul evaluate his life in relation to his goals (2 Timothy 4:6-8)?

6. What lessons do you learn about planning in Luke 14:28-32 and Proverbs 16:3,9?

7. What caution must you consider in your planning (James 4:13-15)?

8. When you get to the end of your life, what do you want to look back upon as having been accomplished?

(Before completing items 9-10, carefully read the NOTES for this lesson.)

9. Goal Planning. Using the “Goal Planning Worksheet,” identify your short-range (6 month) goals in the areas of responsibility listed. Make these goals as comprehensive and detailed as possible.

a. List your goals in answer to the question, “Where Do I Want To Be?”

b. Answer the question, “Where Am I Now?” and indicate the things that are presently helping and hindering you in reaching your goals.

c. Identify possible activities for obtaining your goals under the question, “How Do I Get There?”

d. Review your “Goal Planning Worksheet” with your leader who will help you identify several goals that you can begin to concentrate on.

10. Time Inventory. Analyze your present use of time using the “Time Inventory” worksheet. Take the following steps:

a. Keep an exact record of everything you do for one week. Record what you actually did in every 30-minute interval of time, not what you should have done or intended to do.

b. Record the total hours per week that you actually spent in each activity listed under “Stewardship of Time.”

c. Analyze your use of time by answering the questions under “Time Inventory Analysis.”



Step 2:

WHERE AM I NOW? Forces Helping/Hindering

Step 3:


Step 1:














Financial Physical




TIME INVENTORY Week of / / to / /



















































































Stewardship Devotions____ Sleep____ Shopping____ Recreation____

Of Time: Bible Study____ Meals____ Employment____ Telephone Time

Meditation____ Family____ Commuting____ Wasted Time__

Evangelism____ School____ Social Time____ Miscellaneous _

Church Activities____ Housework____

Time Inventory Analysis:

1. Which activities were time wasters? Why? How can they be eliminated?

2. Which activities consumed too much time? How can these be done more effectively?

3. On which activities should you spend more time? How can this be accomplished?