A Healthy Life is a Goal-Setting Life
Spiritual Goals – Part 2 of 3
Goal Setting for a Healthy Person
One only has to walk the aisles of your local bookstore (that’s a physical building – not Amazon – that sells books) to see the overwhelming number of books written for the purpose of trying to make you healthy. It won’t blow your mind and you will not finish this post and be blown away by my incredible insight. Simply put, we should all consider the great value goal setting can have on our lives and overall health. I’ve organized three categories – physical, spiritual, and emotional.
The following post is my encouragement in the practice of setting spiritual goals.
There is something that seems ironic – almost counter intuitive – about setting goals in our spiritual lives. In the Christian faith, it almost feels completely opposite to set a goal for the purpose of achievement. After all, Jesus taught an “upside-down Kingdom” where the practices and priorities of the secular are considered vain in the context of eternity. The whole Matthew 6:19, ““Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal…” thing.
While this concept and theological principle is 100% true, I want you to consider how it is still possible to set spiritual goals in our lives for the purpose of spiritual growth and development. The teachings of Jesus and principles in scripture are guidance and exhortation for us to abstain from finding our identity in accomplishments and achievements. Jesus was diligent to teach a “Kingdom perspective” – and He never taught against constructs and practices to improve your spiritual condition.
So, let us begin there. If you’ve been a believer – consciously or subconsciously – that setting goals in your spiritual life is in direct opposition to Jesus’s teaches or expectations in your life, I hope you will see that it is not. I also hope you will see perhaps one of the best ways to thrive in your relationship with Jesus is to set spiritual goals which will give you the discipline to live-out the very Kingdom principles He teaches.
Consider some of my humble advice in the following areas of spiritual disciplines:
I had a professor who would regularly begin sentences with, “This morning – when I was doing my quiet time in Greek…” Sheesh. Talk about an intimidating statement! While that practice might be well and good for a Greek scholar, it isn’t exactly reality for the rest of us. You may have never heard that exact phrase, but there might be an occasion where you’ve seen or heard the bar set really, really high. It’s amazing how quickly Satan will use that to make you feel inferior.
Or maybe you’re the kind of person who attempts to read the Bible through in a year – every year – because each year you fizzle out somewhere around Numbers. You know reading the Bible is important and you believe the Bible contains wisdom and good news, but whatever you do you just simply cannot maintain commitment to read it cover to cover in twelve months’ time. Let me please encourage you to understand that reading some of the Bible is better than reading none of it. Any reading of the Bible occasionally is better than never reading it at all. Yes, Psalm 1:2 tells us to meditate “day and night” on the incredible Word of God. However, I’m simply suggesting that if you are at a place in your life where you are rarely if ever reading the Bible, try to take baby steps – crawl before you run.
Consider a few suggestions like these goals:
- Pick a Time: choose a time during the day when it is most convenient. Convenience is not defiling the Word of God – it is simply having the humility to put yourself in the best position to reach your goal.
- Marinate: don’t just fly through that verse and close the Book. Take a few moments to let the words sink in and search their purpose for meaning. The more meaningful time you experience the more you will hunger for the “meat”.
- Psalm of the Day: read the Psalm which corresponds to the date of the day you are reading. For example, if it is May 21, read Psalm 21…and so on.
- Word for the Week: pick a specific word, then read one verse (or a couple) that include that word. It is amazing what you will learn from the Bible about love, anger, peace, etc. This is a great way to learn more about the Bible while also learning more about yourself!
A Bible scholar is not made overnight. If you aspire to be a more consistent Bible reader set goals that allow you to grow in the discipline – don’t try to read the book of the Revelation, in Greek, in one setting!
Whoa boy. Confession time. Scripture memorization is a real challenge for me. Seeing as I’m a pastor, that may come as a real shock to you. (Spoiler alert: I have flight anxiety and don’t really enjoy being in hospitals either – seems like I went into the wrong profession!) But what is most important is that I try never allow what is a weakness to become an excuse. Perhaps you too want the joy of scripture memorization but lack the discipline. Consider a few suggestions like these goals:
- Sticky Notes: put them everywhere! On the steering wheel of your car, on your nightstand, on your workbench, in the kitchen on the pantry door. Anywhere you spend a lot of time or frequent often is a great place to post scripture.
- Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: use a dry erase marker to write a verse or scripture on your bathroom mirror. Chances are, it’s the once place you are guaranteed to look (multiple times day!)
- Redeem Your Phone: there are a number of great apps that help with scripture memory. Two of my favorites are “The Fighter Verse” and “Verses”. The first is great to help you post a verse for the week as the background on your lock screen. The second has great games and words puzzles to help promote memory through participation.
- Decorate with the Word: thanks to the whole “farmhouse movement”, it’s quite common to decorate a living room, office, or personal space with scripture. Head over to Target, Hobby Lobby, or make your own using your computer printer and a cheap picture frame.
Once again, it will be great when you can recite a whole passage or even a chapter of scripture. But until then don’t be ashamed of using a few tricks and tools to help you memorize meaningful, encouraging, and convicting truths.
If one more person tells me I have to see The Greatest Showman I’m going to tell their kid Santa Claus isn’t real! I get it. It’s an awesome movie. But I’m sorry I haven’t seen it and I’m really sorry to all of you I probably don’t plan to. After watching Cars 3 for the seven hundredth time I’m going to watch basketball, or House Hunters, or the Revenant (again) with my free time. But isn’t it funny that whenever a person watches a great film, reads an interesting book, or finds a restaurant with “omg the best burgers ever” – we rush out to tell someone? Well tell everyone. We don’t care. So why do we stop short of sharing the incredible news of the salvation we have received in Jesus Christ?
In Acts 4:20 Peter and John said, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” They had a case of the “Can’t Help Its”. The truth is we should all aspire to have that kind of passion and enthusiasm. Like daily scripture reading, active evangelism doesn’t happen with just a snap of your fingers. Consider a few suggestions like these goals:
- Get Training: one of the biggest reasons we don’t share our faith is because we don’t know how. Reach out to your church and ask when and how they offer evangelism training. This can happen in the context of a classroom or in a one-on-one relationship. Either way, the more you are prepared the more likely you will be to share.
- Know Your Stuff: commit to learning more about the truth of the gospel. For starters, visit The Story website and watch this short video. Take time to read and watch resources on their website and others like it. You can’t share what you don’t know.
- Set Your Sights: imagine if someone declared, “I’m going to climb a mountain!” That sounds good, but…which mountain? When? Where? Start by identifying people in your life who do not have a relationship with Jesus. Pray for them. Pray for a chance to share your story of salvation. Begin having conversations that are about life, meaning, and purpose.
- Tell Someone You’re Telling Someone: a goal like evangelism is big and for many people not easy. I have found whenever I tell someone “my goal is to share my faith ___ times in ______ time period”, it serves to hold me accountable and motivate me. The Bible teaches us to spur one another on to good works. Telling someone your plan and goal gives them a chance to pray for you and also check-in with you to see if you are reaching that goal.
We may never be like Billy Graham or D.L. Moody. But this should not stop us from faithfully sharing our story of salvation with courage. The gospel is the good news of repentance, forgiveness, and mercy. God wants that no one should perish and we have been given the awesome ministry of reconciliation.
I hope you have found some encouragement to set goals in these three primary spiritual disciplines. There are many other great ways to grow in our faith and hopefully these ideas will spark fresh ideas of your own and help you establish healthy rhythms in your everyday life.