I recently came across an article in a university library database entitled The Secret to Setting and Achieving Your Goals. Written by Linda Nacif and published in the August 2007 publication of Supervision, the article outlined seven steps to establishing and obtaining your goals.
The article was very well grounded in the ideologies of self empowerment and envisioning your goal as a means to success, using phrases like “… say out loud: “My dream is…”” or “Envision yourself as that successful person.” The underlying theme of these statements being that you can will into reality whatever success you truly desire.
Admittedly, my initial reaction was a bit of offense over the inadvertent assault on my beliefs that God is the architect of our lives, and it is He who determines our journey. But as I read through the article a second time, looking for all those little things that had bruised my spiritual sensitivities, I began to realize the article contained many scriptural principles; though applied improperly.
Step one in the article was to “define your dream”. This section is fairly self explanatory, and culminates in the statement; “It’s not until you know what your dream truly is that you will be able to do the work necessary to achieve it and to receive the satisfaction and rewards you deserve.” By making adjustments from a “self” oriented statement to a servitude oriented statement we can see how close to the mark Biblically this statement really is. It is not until you know what your need truly is that you will be able to commit to the sacrifice necessary to receive the satisfaction and rewards available to you. This could be viewed as the “first step” realization in establishing a Christian life.
Step two, according to Linda’s article, is to “convert your dream into a goal”. This is accomplished through writing down your specific goal and the date which you plan on achieving it. A Christian life is really no different, with the exception that our goals have already been written out for us in Scripture; complete with dates of accomplishment known by the Father who governs our lives accordingly. However, unlike simply writing out a specific goal for a specific time, Scriptures are all encompassing, outlining multiple goals and how we are to achieve them not just now, but for the rest of our lives.
The article outlines step three as “write your goals on post-it notes and put them everywhere”. Out of the entire article, this is probably the most point blank representation of a Biblical principle. If as Christians, the Scriptures outline our life goals for us, then according to not only Linda’s article, but the Bible itself, we are to post Scripture all around us. “And these words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart… And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9 “Do not let kindness or truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart… In all your ways acknowledge Him (God) and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:3-6
Step four is to “make a list of your assets and resources”. Again, this list has already been compiled for Christians and is contained within the pages of the Bible; and the list is long. Strength when we are weak, forgiveness, direction, and the body of Christ (the church) are all a part of the magnificent wealth of resources God has made available to us. Promise after promise is outlined in great detail, awaiting a life of faithful servitude and willingness to follow His direction. Our responsibility is to study and know what those promises are, as well as the conditions that accompany them.
In step five, “write down the obstacles”, the article uses the words of “Henry” and describes them as “sabotaging… negative self talk.” There are many obstacles in reaching spiritual goals as a Christian, but our single greatest defense against them is faith. Having faith that God truly is in control, and that He knows the desires of our hearts is a part of what is required. But more important in this context is having faith that trials and struggles which we endure serve a purpose greater than ourselves, and to know that one day that purpose will be revealed to us.
Step six is to “write down why you want this goal”. The importance of this step is summarized in the statement; “If your “why” isn’t strong enough, you will not achieve your goal…” The hard truth is that Christians often loose site of the “why”, and in doing so needlessly struggle in their walk with Christ. Yet, the “why” is simple and universal; love. “We love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19. This love is what drives us to push ahead in our desires to know God more and to lift up those around us. It is this love which causes us to sacrifice, endure, and believe.
In step seven, “write your action plan”, Linda writes: “A book is read from the first page to the last, but goals are set from the end and work up to the beginning.” In a Christian life the ultimate goal, salvation has already been achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What we are working back to is once again having a perfect relationship with the God that created us. The action plan is simple; study of Scripture, meditation on those principles, and prayer. These are the three cornerstones to achieving a worthwhile relationship with our Creator, and living a life pleasing to Him.
Nacif, L. (2007, August). The Secret to Setting & Achieving Your Goals. Supervision, 68(8), 18-20. Retrieved June 3, 2008, from MasterFILE Premier database.