Saturday, October 20, 2007

On Goal-Setting

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philip.3:14)

“In most cases, the effort is as valuable as the result.” I heard someone say this recently, and I agree. Goals are necessary, simply because without a point of destination, it is impossible to choose a path to follow. “He who aims at nothing is sure to hit it,” as the old saying goes. We usually think of goal-setting as a young person’s activity, but it is my opinion that nostalgia, as lovely as it is, should never stifle aspiration. My goals may not be as long-range as my grandchildren’s, but that does not make them any less lofty. Here is the point I am trying to make: It is the process that molds our character, not the goal itself. This is why “pressing toward the mark” should be a life-long pursuit. My character will need refining until the day God makes me perfect, in the likeness of Jesus Christ (1Jno.3:2). And, like the Psalmist, I will not be satisfied until then (Psl.17:15).

But it is not only my age that makes me a proponent of short-term goals, as well as long-term ones. Young people would be well-advised to include both in their plans, too. After all, what we hope to be is not nearly as important as what we are, since what we hope to be can be thwarted by circumstances or death at any time. And this is true no matter how old we are. In the case of a Christian, the ultimate goal should be Paul’s: “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” God gives each of us a calling, and it may function within the local church itself or in the broader scope of His world. Every other goal we have must fall under this umbrella (the calling of God); else we lose the “prize.”

I have several long-term goals that may or may not come to fruition. For instance, the first step in what could be a long-term educational goal has brought me a great sense of fulfillment. And the articles I write, which I hope one day to have compiled in a book, in the mean time, give me much joy, not just from the feed-back I receive, but from the knowledge that I am honing a gift and accessing a Treasure Chest simultaneously. In each case, I am both blessed and bettered by the process. For that reason, for me, there will always be an immediate “goal-to-go” and a future prize to win. I need them both; and so do you.

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