With a new year comes a new opportunity to put past things behind us and look forward to what God has in store for you as the spiritual leader of your home. The humorous Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you may end up someplace else.” Do you know where you are going in 2021? Do you have goals, dreams, and plans for what you would like to accomplish for God? Why is setting goals and writing them down so important? In an article entitled 18 Facts About Goals and Their Achievement, the facts and statistics grabs your attention: People with written goals are 50% more likely to achieve than people without goals; 92% of New Year’s goals fail by January 15th; Only about 3 of every 100 adults write down their goals on paper; Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible; and in the process of achieving your goal you will be sacrificing something else” (http://www.goalband.co.uk/goal-achievement-facts.html).
I challenge you to pray about and write down your specific goals for 2021.
The Apostle Paul had a vision for his life. He saw the Christian life not as a sprint but as a long-distance race, a marathon. You begin the race the moment you receive Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. You end the race when you get to heaven. But, in between, Paul says you must keep your eyes on the goal which is heaven. The prize is given by Jesus personally. He places you in the winner’s circle where you are rewarded. Paul isn’t suggesting you get to heaven by your own efforts, but you will be rewarded for running the Christian race with godliness and daily determination. He speaks of this in Philippians 3:12-14. In these verses Paul gives us instructions on how to have a game plan, a goal for our lives that include 7 truths:
- Realize There is More God Wants to Accomplish Through You
Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained, or have already become perfect, but I press on…” Paul is saying, I am in a race and it’s not over yet. For the Christian the finish line is heaven. Until we reach heaven we cannot stop. Yes, we pause, we rest, we refuel; but we keep moving forward knowing God has something for us to do. There is something God has for you to do, an assignment with your name on it. There are experiences He wants you to have; relationships He wants you to build; people He wants you to influence, and situations He wants you to change.
- Become Dissatisfied with Where You Are
Paul possessed a holy dissatisfaction. Paul was satisfied with Jesus, but he wasn’t satisfied with his Christian life. He didn’t get complacent or comfortable. He believed things could change, could get better, that things don’t have to stay the same. When you have goals, a game plan for your life, you can determine your progress. This is not placing unrealistic expectations on yourself, but realizing you can do better, things can change, you can change, your marriage can change. Take inventory of your life. Where are you? God wants you to move beyond in His strength from where you are to where God wants you to be.
- Set Priorities
Paul said, “This one thing I do…” He didn’t say, “These fifty things I dabble in.” He had a focus. He set his priorities that ordered his life. His passion was to move toward the goal of godliness. What have you given your life to? What gets you out of bed in the morning? In Matthew 6:33 Jesus attached a promise to putting God first. He said everything you need will fall into place and other priorities will be rightly aligned. That means God first; your wife second; your children third; your church fourth; your job fifth; and fun and recreation, sixth. Your priorities show up in the things you spend the most time doing.
- Deal with Your Past
Paul said, “Forgetting what lies behind…” Does that mean he could totally not remember or erase his past? No, but you can break the power of the past by looking to the future. Even though you can’t change your past, you can change the meaning of your past by viewing it through the eyes of Jesus. Those experiences can be used as a testimony of God’s grace. The idea here is constantly discarding the past and no longer allowing it to control your present or your future. Paul took his past failures (we all have them); his past sorrows (we have all faced them); and his past victories (we have all experienced them) and he laid them at the feet of Jesus. Don’t allow the way you were raised, wrong decisions you have made, and sorrows you have experienced to define your future. Don’t waste another minute looking in the rear-view-mirror.
- Look to the Future
Paul said, “…and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” This is the picture of a runner straining every nerve and muscle as he keeps on running the race. He runs with energy, passion, and anticipation. The choices you make now affect your future. A vision, a goal, focuses on thinking ahead, not dwelling on the past. It is the belief that God has a purpose, an assignment for you to do (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Play by The Rules
Paul said, “…however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” The word standard means rules. When a runner didn’t keep the rules, he became disqualified. God sets the rules, not us. History is filled with people who started the race with great success, but they didn’t keep the rules and lost their testimony, their credibility. What are the rules, at least the most important ones? (1) Place God first in all you do; (2) Keep going back to the Rule Book—God’s Word; (3) Talk to the Lord daily through prayer; (4) Stay pure, free from those things that would enslave you; (5) Always obey God instantly.
- Keep Pressing On
Notice Paul said, “But I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Pressing on is a continual pursuit forward with enthusiasm and joy. His goal was always before him, that of becoming more like Jesus. So, in spite of your problems; in spite of your circumstances; in spite of your disappointments; in spite of your failures; in spite of your sorrows; in spite of your setbacks, PRESS ON!
With these 7 truths in mind, write down your goals for 2021.