Tomorrow I plan to share with you my goals for the year. (At least I hope to. Sickness has been going around my home, so my plans are not always panning out!)
Before I do, though, I want to put goal-setting in perspective. I think planning realistic and achievable goals are extremely helpful. They push me to not just be content with my status quo, to improve in areas I know I need to, and to put it in spiritual terms, to “work out” my salvation.
However, there are two pitfalls I don’t want to fall into this year with my goals. And that is where I need to keep my goals in perspective.
The first pitfall is moralism. I can deceive myself into thinking that I am a more righteous person simply because I have met some key goals. I can feel more spiritual, because I have checked off my list that I have read a certain number of chapters in my Bible. I can convince myself that I am a godly wife because I have prayed for my husband regularly, or read some marriage books, or shoot, just fixed dinner all year long.
I am nothing, except for Christ. Nothing I do or achieve will gain me any more favor with God. My goals, therefore, are not there to become a better person so that I can get in better standing with God. Not at all.
This doesn’t mean that I simply don’t set goals because it isn’t going to make me have a better standing with Christ. My standing with Christ was met at the cross. But the more I understand of God’s abundant grace to me (who am I?!), the more I want to be more like Him.
And because I live in a real, tangible, physical world, I need real, tangible, physical goals. So I set goals.
Letting my goals become my master
The second pitfall I want to avoid is letting my goals become my master. This is especially easy to do if you are a task-oriented, list-making type person. Goals are meant to help us achieve a larger mission. If at any point we forget the bigger picture and become slaves to the specific goal, the goal has become our master.
My goals are meant to serve me and my family. They are meant to give me tangible things I can do to become more like Christ, and to fulfill my roles in life to the best of my ability. Meeting the goal itself, is really not the goal. It is the larger purpose and mission in life that those goals are launching me toward that is the goal.
Let me explain. I may have an overarching mission of having a better relationship with my husband this year. To do this, we may decide to set a goal of having a weekly date night to give us more time to interact and focus on each other without kids. Great mission, great goal.
However, after a few weeks it may become apparent that the weekly date nights are putting a financial strain on us, which is in turn putting an unneeded strain on our marriage. The goal is no longer meeting our overall purpose. In fact, it is detrimental to it.
If I doggedly go through the year each week checking off our list that we went on a date, I have become a slave to that goal. I may try to convince myself at the end of the year that, yes, we have a great marriage, because we made it a priority to go on weekly date nights, but really, where is our relationship?
You can apply this to any goal you may have set for the year. In a few months you may need to reevaluate if that goal is still achieving the overarching purpose. And if it isn’t? It’s time to let the goal go.
If at any moment I become so preoccupied with meeting the details of a [good] goal, that I have lost my view of why I am pursuing that goal, it’s time to step back and see the big picture again.
So as we set goals this year, let’s keep them in perspective and not fall into these traps.
My goals are tools to help me accomplish a greater mission. They are not my master, and they will not make God love me more.