January 2020 was but a vapor, and now we continue into February.
How are you doing on those New Year Resolutions? Before you hang your head in shame, or lift your chin in pride, I am offering neither a rebuke nor a well done. Rather, now that the newness of 2020 has dissipated, now that the grind of the year has kicked in, I would like to offer an alternative viewpoint.
Personally, I am not a fan of setting goals. I understand the big idea about setting goals. Put an achievable, measurable marker out there and reach for it with all you’ve got. Use that goal as motivation, as a provoker of purpose, as an emblem of your True North. I’m not implying that setting goals is bad. However, I am saying setting goals is inferior.
Inferior to what?
1. Our self-worth can become too closely attached to our goals.
You know how it tends to go. When we meet our goals, we feel great. Our soul soars with a sense of accomplishment. We feel valuable, productive, significant, worthy, and wanted. When we don’t meet our goals, we feel pretty bad. Our soul sinks with a sense of failure. We feel disappointed, frustrated, unproductive, and diminished in worth. Goals have a way of minimizing any journey as a waste of time if we didn’t attain the desired result. Goals become our god when they have so much influence over how we feel about ourselves. When we point to a reached goal and shout, “Look at that! Look what I did! I’m special!”, or when we point to a missed goal and mutter, “Look at that. Look what I couldn’t do. I’m a failure”, we inadvertently minimize God’s opinion of us and give the goal a greater voice than His.
2. Goals emphasize results over process.
First, goals have a tendency to become our self-measuring rod. Second, they can minimize who you are and who you become in the process. If you live by the goal, then you can start slipping into the mantra of “the ends justify the means”. How you get there isn’t as important as getting there, which can lead to short cuts, compromise, and some collateral damage. As as a follower of Jesus, we live more by the mantra of, “the means validate the end.” A positive result can be diminished into irrelevance if your process wasn’t pure. When we become overly focused on goals, we make ourselves susceptible to making the goal our master rather than God being our master.
3. God often operates in the realm of that which is immeasurable
He is certainly the God of the harvest, but even more, He is the God of the seed. As the old adage states, “you can count how many seeds are in an apple, but you can’t count how many apples are in the seeds.” If our efforts are strictly evaluated by the goals we meet or don’t meet, we are diminishing God’s sovereignty and His ability to turn any little expression of faith into a massive, bountiful, fruitful tree. While we are busy counting to see if we met our goal, God is at work on the seed you sowed. It’s very possible, maybe even likely, that the seed you sowed along the way will have a larger impact on the world than the goal you met. In the kingdom of God, our lives are based on what we sow more than what we harvest.
4. Goals are never enough.
You’ve met your goal…now what? You still have to get up the next morning and keep living. So, are you going to set a new goal? Great! It’s going to be bigger right? When you meet that goal, what are you going to do the next day? Oh, that’s right! Set a new, bigger goal. When it comes to goals, whatever you accomplish, however much you attain, there is always more out there, calling to you, wooing you. You get your hands on a lot of money…you will just want more. Lose a lot of weight…next you will want to be ripped. Get a lot of people sitting in your seats listening to you preach…it won’t be enough, you’ll want more people. Goals have a sneaky way of becoming a source of thirst, compelling you to drink from the wrong wells for satisfaction.
5. Goals are inferior to “Thought Processes”.
Because of the reasons above, I submit it to you this idea…instead of setting goals, make the effort to establish new thought processes in your mind. Instead of trying to hit a goal, do the diligent labor of changing your perspective of the world, of other people, of God, and of yourself. A healthy, strong, consistent thought process will appropriately shape your sense of self-worth, will allow you to take joy in incremental growth rather than results, will empower you to see the value in the immeasurables, and lead you to legitimate streams for your thirst.
I am going to write a few blogs the next few days, sharing some of my “thought processes” for the year 2020. I made a list, I pray through one of them each day, and I intend to do this throughout the whole of 2020. I encourage you, spend some time praying and thinking about some thought processes you want to establish in your life.
And one more thing…
If you have met your goals or are meeting your goals…awesome! Go for it! I’m cheering you on. If you have not…awesome! Lift your head. You’re still breathing. You are going to be ok.