Are you going to lose some weight? Or maybe read more books or learn a new language? Maybe you want to read the entire Bible this year? I hope you are you planning for a great year?
I saw a recent article that listed the five most popular new year’s resolutions. The 5th was to take up a new hobby, the 4th was to make more money, the 3rd most popular resolution was to improve relationships, the 2nd was to stop smoking, and the most popular New Year’s resolution was to lose weight.
At the beginning of each year I set goals for my family, ministry, and personal life. Sometimes I make my goals. But too often I have fallen short. What about you?
I’ve talked with many people about new year’s resolutions and they simply don’t make them. It seems to be easier not to make a goal and bypass the disappointment when they don’t come to pass.
Have you heard about the man who moved into a retirement community to spend the rest of his life there? It wasn’t long until he made a number of friends among the other residents. There was one lady he was especially attracted to and she was attracted to him. They spent a lot of time together Finally one evening he proposed, asking her to marry him. The next morning he woke up remembering his proposal, but he couldn’t remember her answer. So he went to her and said, “I’m really embarrassed. I proposed to you last night but I can’t remember if you said ‘Yes’ or ‘No’”. ‘”Oh, thank goodness!” she replied. “I remembered saying ‘Yes’ but I couldn’t remember who asked me.”
Sometimes I feel that way about New Year’s resolutions. I make a bunch of resolutions and goals and within a few weeks I forget them.
The Bible has a lot to say about setting goals.
In Proverbs 6:6-11 Solomon encourages us to take a lesson from the busy ant. The ant works hard to prepare food in the summer and fall to withstand hard winters. If you have ever watched an ant work, you know they seem to never stop. Hard work and planning are part of God’s wisdom for a prosperous life. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit” (Proverbs 21:5).
However, just because we’ve done our planning doesn’t guarantee our goals will be met. The process of setting goals must be infused with humility and submission to God’s will (James 4:13-14). The Bible teaches against two extremes: never setting goals and setting goals with no thought of God.
In my first sermon of 2019 I shared four Biblical principles that will help you set goals you can accomplish. Here they are:
1 – Focus on fewer goals.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14).
Paul didn’t have many goals. He focused on one thing. When you focus on less you achieve more. You will always more things to change than you have capacity to change. Choose 2-3 goals can be accomplished with excellence. So, make sure your goal wildly important. You might be able to bring smaller goals in line with bigger goals. Make sure it has a clearly measurable result, as well as the date by which results must be achieved. Have a finish line.
2 – Act on what you can do.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (Luke 14:28).
Jesus encourages His followers to consider if they have enough to accomplish their plan (build a tower). Don’t start if you can’t finish. Too often we depend too much on others. Rather than set a goal that is really out of your control, set your goals on things you can control. Most goals are out of our control (lose weight, better job, more money, etc). We may not control the goal, but we can control something to move us toward our goal. For example, we may not control our weight as much as we’d like. But we can control what we eat or what we do. Walking 10 minutes a day is a better goal than losing 10 pounds. Walking 10 minutes a day is 100% in our control.
3 – Keep Score
I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:14-18).
Paul kept track of what he was supposed to do and what he wasn’t supposed to do. He then adjusted his actions accordingly. People play differently when they are keeping score. Keep track of what you are doing to reach your goal. Put it on the refrigerator or mark it in a book.
4 – Be Accountable
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Cor. 9:27).
Everyone drifts. Paul knew that he must hold himself accountable so he would stay on the right path. He actually had a team of workers who helped him in his ministry. You need to hold yourself accountable to what is important. Involve others to help you concentrate on what is important. Don’t do it alone. Involve others.
Make this a year to accomplish one of your big goals.