“If you want to succeed,” our teachers, coaches, and mentors tell us, “setting goals is essential.” We are taught to define our goals in some sort of mission statement, write them on brightly-colored post-it notes, and stick them on the refrigerator door, the bathroom mirror, or anywhere we can read them often. It is believed this repetitious programming of our minds actually works.
I can mostly relate to that scenario in the area of dieting. God only knows how many times I’ve set a goal for weight loss, either with an organized group of dieters or by myself. I learned early on not to set my goal too aggressively, because experience had taught me that I probably wouldn’t make it.
Throughout my life I have been a goal-setter, and I have both successes and failures. But whether our goals are major life-changing measures or simply something to amuse us—like New Year’s resolutions—how seriously we take them determines our chances for success. If we take a casual approach to them, failure is inevitable. I believe that in today’s culture, we increasingly embrace an “It’s OK to fail” policy, and toss our goals out the window.
One place where it is definitely not OK to fail or take a casual approach is in our relationship with God. There we should have clear goals, take them seriously, and recognize that failure will have consequences. Does it seem to anyone else that we’ve lost all sense of consequences for our choices or actions? I’m not talking about criminal actions; however, it is not uncommon these days to see people getting by with murder and walking away scot-free. What I am talking about is a trend in our Christian beliefs that God loves us so much that it doesn’t matter what we do. Thus, we take casually our actions and sometimes even our commitments to God, and then assume that He does too. We assume wrong. (See Deuteronomy 23:21; Ecclesiastes 5:5.)
So what are the right goals for Christians? Should we view them with a “hit or miss” approach to success? Does God care what our goals are? Does He want us to succeed? Will we be better Christians if we have the right ones? Those are all questions we will tackle in the coming weeks. But first I want to share with you the goal of one of the most admired Christian authors/teachers of modern times—Oswald Chambers.
My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,
Not even blessing, but Himself, my God.
I have been a reader of Oswald Chamber’s best-selling devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, for 10+ years. I read it every day, realizing that much of it goes poof—straight over my head. But because his writings speak to my thirst for God, I’ve stuck with it. Anyone familiar with his works recognizes that he was a rare saint who had an exceptional walk with God. Next, we will breakdown his goal statement and compare it to the goal of the Apostle Paul and also to our goals as 21st century Christians.
Goals matter. Having the right goals will make a difference in how we approach God and our ability to discover His vast treasures for our lives. God wants us to succeed at the right things. It helps when we know what they are! ~Janie Kellogg