Ready or not, 2012 is here.
Do you set goals for the new year? Or are you so afraid of failing and falling short of your goals, that you refuse to set any?
Are there Scriptures that are relevant to the topic of New Year's goal setting?
I think there are. Here are a few that come to my mind. . .
Lamentations 3:22-23. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Doesn't this verse beckon us to set new goals every year and every morning, for even when we fail (and we are sure to) the Lord's compassions never fail?
James 4:13-16. Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
These verses aren't telling us that making plans and goals is evil, but making plans and goals apart from God is boastful and arrogant and, therefore, evil. These verses actually encourage humble goal setting and plan making before the face of God and in submission to the will of God.
Philippians 3:12-14. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Here Paul speaks of his goal of pressing on to eternal life in and with Christ. Surely this involved a whole set of other smaller goals for the apostle. We know, for example, that Paul had a goal to preach the Gospel where Christ had not yet been named (in other words, among unreached people groups). We know that Paul had a goal of preaching Christ in Rome, the capital of the Roman empire. The ultitmatle gaol for all of us is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, but that does not preclude other goals in all areas of our lives. It actually necessitates them.
1 Thessalonians 4:10. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.
Here Paul speaks of the "ambition" (goal!) of leading a quiet life which involves attending to your own business, working with your hands, behaving properly toward outsiders and providing for your own needs, so as not be a burden to others. That sounds like a set of new year's goals to me!
2 Corinthians 5:9. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Here Paul speaks of the "ambition" of being pleasing to the Lord throughout our lives. Why? Because we will all appear before the judgement seat of Christ to give an account for the deeds of our lives. In other words, the reality of future judgment should effect the way we live every day in every area of our lives. Pleasing the Lord involves the careful stewardship of our time, talents and treasure. To steward well we must plan and set goals. The addage is true. . . "If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it."
I could keep going with scores of other Scriptures, but that's probably sufficient to make the case.
So in view of the Lord's mercies which are new every morning . . . . and because we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. . . let us press on toward eternity . . . by setting some goals for 2012.
Here are a few pointers to get you started.
Earmark 2-4 hours of time before January 15. Get away to a lonely out of way place if you can. Think over your life. Start with highlights and lowlights of last year and then look toward the next year.
Be humble. Begin with prayer. Submit your life to the Lord. Everything you have is a gift including your time and energy. He owns it all. You are just a steward. Remind yourself and ask the Lord to guide you in the use of His resouces.
Write them down. Just the act of recording your goals will provide some mojo for pursuing them. Writing down your goals enables you to come back them in the middle and at the end of the year. Evaluating your goals is critical.
Think wholistically. Set goals in the spiritual, mental, physical, financial and relational areas of your life.
Be specific and measurable. You should be able to measure if you reached the goal or not. "Read 12 books" is a good goal. "Read more" is a not-so-good goal.
Be realistic. It is better to shoot for lesser goals and reach them, than to set super high goals and fail across the baord. Get some "wins" in the area of goal setting.
Consult and submit to your spouse, if you've got one. If one of your goals for 2012 is "Run 5 marathons" and your spouse is not on board, you are going to be in a world of hurt. Your spouse will love it if they have input into your goals and vice versa. After all, you are living life with this person and many of your goals should involve them.
Be graceful when you fail. You will fail and not reach some of your goals. When it happens, run to the Gospel and His compassion which never fails. Still, you will get further if you set goals than if you don't. Rejoice in your progress.
Seek the Lord's glory in all that you do. Goals are not meant to puff us up or for self exaltation, but for the exaltaiton of Christ and the glory of God. So sanctify your ambition and make sure your goals reflect the Lord's priorities and heart.
Have fun, and let me know how it goes. . . .