Making Spiritual Goals

I’m not cynical about New Year’s resolutions.

I mean, sure, a lot of us make them and a lot of us break them, and I know gym memberships spike in January only to wither into uselessness come March.  But I am a goal-setter by nature: I have in me a drive to be always striving toward something.  If I don’t have anything to achieve, reach for, work toward, I become restless and frustrated and bored.  It’s part of how God made me.

To that end, in my day-to-day life I am a list-making, goal-accomplishing whirlwind.  I have small daily to-do lists that I want to complete; I keep a list of monthly goals; and although they are less clear, I do develop one- and two- and five-year plans for the future, always with the caveat that God might have something completely different in mind for me.  I do this with work (I want to have x project complete by y date), but I do it with pleasure, too (I want to have x thing written by y time or be able to play x song by y date).

But it’s a matter of conviction for me that I sometimes make and approach spiritual goals for my life with much less fervor and commitment.  The thing is, my spiritual life needs goals.  I want to grow closer to God; I want to develop new practices (or hone old ones) in getting closer to Him.  I want to be better for Him and do more for Him; I want to love Him more and serve others more.  But if I don’t make a plan for how to do that, if I don’t give myself a nudge in the direction of achieving it, I often won’t do anything at all.  So I always make spiritual goals for the new year.  I’ll share my three for the year:

1) Spend less time on the computer/internet.  This is…not explicitly spiritual, at least on the surface.  But it actually is.  I am more world-aware and God-aware when I am not blindly surfing the net.  I am more intentional about forging relationships with other people.  I have more time to give.  I become less irritable and feel less rushed.  So, I want to try to walk away from the idol I’ve made of technology.   And I have some specific and actionable ways to do this, including: a) taking a few days a week and keeping them as “offline” days (or as offline as I can be outside work!) and b) changing how I do guide my time when I am online.

2) Intentionally develop a local community of believers.  This is the hard one.  I do attend my local church regularly, but my husband and I still struggle with finding and keeping local Christian friends.  The believing friends I do have either live too far away from me to meet regularly, or are dealing with life changes (i.e., a newborn baby) that make developing a deeper relationship difficult.  All the small groups I might fit into meet when I’m at work.  It’s been hard to establish and keep local Christian relationships.  I want that to change this year, even if it means searching outside my church to do so.  I’ve considered starting a local neighborhood prayer meeting when the weather becomes hospitable again – we’ll have to see.  This is my “reach” goal.

3) Cultivate relationships with care.  I have a lot of relationships that I care about, but I have been convicted lately that while I keep up with them all just fine, I don’t go the extra mile nearly often enough.  What does it look like to really love and serve people close to me  – above and beyond “expected” and “good?”

You’ll notice a few careful guidelines inherent in my goals.  None of them are anything I can do by myself; they’re going to require my close dependence on God and His provision.  They have risen from areas of personal conviction/guidance in my life that I’ve felt during prayer.  They can be broken down into real and concrete steps and plans (so I don’t end up with something so pie-in-the-sky I can’t accomplish anything).  And they’re flexible: no end dates, no times, just enough to get me started in the right direction.

As believers, we should grow accustomed to saying “if God wills” whenever we make a plan or a goal. After all, only God knows the future and His plans for us.  But that doesn’t mean we should abstain from making goals at all – and in fact, the Christian life can be much the richer for them.

Do you have any goals or plans for your spiritual life this year?

 

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One thought on “Making Spiritual Goals

  1. I am also a goal orientated person, not to the level you are though. I recently bought a notebook schedule for writers and as I filled in sections, I realized that though I ‘planned’ to spend time last year on writer education, I didn’t do much.
    I also have been praying on a closer christian community and the beginning of December I went to a new group at church. I could have done it anytime in the last year but I didn’t think it was for me, I had other things on my schedule and didn’t want to take the time. After a couple of times there, I was praying about it on the drive home and God reminded me I had asked for closer christian friends.
    It will take me awhile to have friends there, and I hate missing writing time, but right now, I believe it’s where God wants me.
    I know God will find a way for you too. In fact, I looked for a group like you are proposing to start and I would have loved it.
    Maggie

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