Some people set New Year’s resolutions, others set goals. Some people do it at the end of the year in preparation for the new year, while others choose to set goals throughout the year.
It doesn’t matter what words you use to describe it or how excited you are while doing it, it’s normal to have your enthusiasm for goals fizzle out over time. You’re not alone. Most people never follow through with their New Year resolutions or goals!
Do people really want positive change in their lives?
But of course they do! All people want their lives to change for the better. Desire isn’t the problem. We all have lots of desire. It’s usually the diligence that’s lacking.
Isn’t this true of our very faith in Christ? If we were not diligent in keeping our eyes on Jesus we could easily grow tired of doing the right thing and just fall right back into our old life.
What would happen if…
We stopped making prayer a part of our day?
We let dust gather on our bible?
Stopped going to church?
It’s pretty easy to allow ourselves an extra hour of sleep instead of making going to church a priority. It always starts out as something small like that but later down the road, we find it more difficult to make the right choices. Often times we allow ourselves to focus on the day in and day out while eternity grows a bit more fuzzy with each passing day.
The bible is overflowing with reminders to keep our eyes on the prize.
“ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.’ Hebrews 10:23, NIV
In Hebrews, Paul went on to tell story after story of real people from the bible who had to pursue goals every day of their lives without ever being able to literally see them. They had to run a race with no finish line in sight.
Then he goes on to say…
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV
These are verses that encourage us to hold tight to Jesus so that we will not stray far away from our faith and grow weak spiritually. Below are some questions you’re encouraged to take a few minutes to stop and reflect over. Grab your journal or a piece of paper and jot down your thoughts and feelings.
How do you feel about the life you are living and where you are going?
Have you ever stopped to think about where you are going with your life?
What are your goals, plans, and dreams?
What are you doing today to bring you closer to these dreams?
Lives are not lived one life at a time; they are lived one moment at a time.
A goal isn’t a goal until you have a plan!
Have you ever sat down and created a plan to achieve your most important goals? If not, now is a good time to start.
A goal isn’t a goal unless you are working towards it!
How many tangible, measurable steps have you taken toward making your plans or goals a reality?
Everything you do in life does one of three things…
- It moves you closer to your goal
- It takes you farther away from your goal
- It leaves you right where you at.
We don’t become what we want to be through HUGE decisions. We become who we want to be through daily actions and many times those are tiny actions that we take.
We don’t wake up one day acting just like Jesus, do we? No, but day by day we slowly but surely act more like Him:
- We’re nice to the check-out lady who takes too much time with our groceries.
- We leave a large tip for the waitress with worn-out shoes even though she forgot the mayo we asked for.
- We faithfully volunteer our time at church even if we don’t get the desired position.
- We give our vacation money to a bigger cause than ourselves.
- We bite our tongues when someone is mean to us.
- We keep our mouths shut about our frustration with our boss to everyone but God.
- We listen attentively when our five-year-old retells his ‘best ever’ day for the third time.
These and a thousand other daily actions that occur over time will reflect the changes that are taking place inside of us.
Are these little action steps or changes easy? Not by a long shot! Even some of the smallest changes we attempt to make will usually involve some kind of pain, frustration, or sacrifice on our part.
Pain is usually the result of the internal dialog that takes place. When we’re used to letting our flesh rule in an area – it just plain doesn’t like it when we expect it to change.
For example: When you make up your mind that you’re going to get a raise at work this year. You decide that you’re going to start getting to work early and always offer to stay late when it’s needed. You’re going to always do a little more than is expected and really make an impact with your boss. You’re going to prove once and for all that you’re the one who deserves a promotion.
Only getting to work early means getting up earlier – and your body doesn’t want to get up fifteen minutes earlier. Also, staying late means missing your favorite TV show, and doing more than is expected of you means giving up chatting with coworkers during your downtime.
The decision you made to make a big impact is great but it’s the little daily actions of follow-through that are going to make it really happen. You have to do it even though it hurts.
Frustration comes as the result of something external. We may have our internal situations well in hand but run into some kind of roadblock that we have no control over and it’s over!
Taking our career ambitions as an example again, we’ve decided that we’re going to work harder than ever before and make a profound impression on our boss – only our boss gets a promotion and that guy we can’t stand and who doesn’t like us just got his old job.
Will making those everyday decisions be a little harder now? You betcha. Thankfully we don’t have to do it all on our own strength, the Holy Spirit will help us to make these small changes when we put our trust in God. Philippians 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Any big change worth making will always offer a Season of Disillusionment for the one attempting the change.
Think about it in relation to any big goals that you’ve set. You set a goal with your eyes on the Prize. You tackle the first day with the Prize sharp in your mind. You face the next day well. The next day is ok. The next day is a little harder. The fifth day… you have less of the Prize in your mind and more of how hard yesterday was. On the sixth day, you’re really losing steam. On the seventh day, you can’t even remember what the Prize was in the face of all this discomfort and you just want to give up!
Sometimes we get disillusioned because we don’t get the immediate and dramatic feedback that we hoped for.
For example: Think about a difficult relationship that you might be dealing with. Maybe it’s your wife or husband and the two of you have been arguing and nitpicking each other for months or even years and you make up your mind that come hell or high water, you’re going to change. You’re going to be the one who chooses to just bite your tongue and say something nice no matter what he says.
You make it through the first day. You make it through the second day. You make it through the third and now you’re patting yourself on the back for all the opportunities to snap back that you’ve resisted. You make it through the fourth day. You make it through the fifth day. You’re feeling pretty darn good about yourself, and you figure that he has to have noticed that something about you has changed – and then at the dinner table he asks ‘what it is that you want, he knows you must want something or you wouldn’t be so darn nice’
This is your moment of potential Disillusionment!
You could get offended and stomp away. You could scowl at him and refuse to answer. Or you could just say, “Honey, I’m really glad you noticed. I’ve just been trying to show you a little more respect and care. You’re my spouse and I love you that’s all.”
If you only make changes when you get positive feedback from people then you’re never going to be the person that God has called you to be because some of what God will call you to do won’t be popular with people.
Some of the most important changes that need to take place in your life will stop the pattern of negative consequences you’ve grown used to– but never bring about any great rewards that you’d be about to point out to anyone else.
Some of the most valuable changes that will take place in your heart will only ever be noticed by one or two people – such as your spouse or a best friend.
Some of the most important goals for your life are between you and God only. No one else knows about them or would have any idea that the goal has been achieved.
If you NEED greater feedback than what God can offer you – you will never do what it takes to be what He has called you to be.
God gave you life and he appointed to you a number of days and only He knows how many of those days you have left. You have a purpose on this earth. You have a purpose and you have to pause every once in a while and answer the question “Where am I going in my life?” And “Am I fulfilling the purposes that God created me for?”
Here is one of my all-time favorite quotes – unfortunately the author is unknown to me: “You don’t have to be more than God created you to be – but stop being less.”
To live a life that falls short of our God-given potential is sad. I don’t believe that we’re going to face God and get a lecture on everything that we could have done and didn’t do – no, I believe that we will see our true reflection in His eyes. The only way to really be all that God created us to be is to see ourselves as He sees us.
We have to learn to see ourselves as overcomers instead of excuse-makers. We have to find the courage to do the right thing because He affirms it whether someone else does or not. Imagine for a moment that your life will be recorded in the annals of history – like that of Moses or Abraham or Paul. What will they write about you?
- Will they tell the story of a mother or father?
- Will they tell the story of a widow redeemed?
- Will they tell the story of a person who prayed?
- Will they tell the story of a person who gave it all?
- Will they tell the story of a person who led an army?
- Will you be the person whose faithful support upheld the man of God who brought God’s truth to a nation?
- Will you be mentioned as a peacemaker?
Now that you’ve reached the end, I hope you don’t feel bad about any goals you’ve set and haven’t accomplished – again, as mentioned in the beginning, it’s normal for all of us to lose enthusiasm and not achieve goals. This also isn’t intended to make you feel bad if you think you’re not living your God-given goals.
Instead, it’s meant to be a source of encouragement! And I hope you’ll use this as a stepping stone – stop and reflect on the questions, especially the last set. Pull out a journal (or piece of paper and pen), your Bible, and set aside a good 30 minutes to get quiet and spend some time in prayer and meditation with God. He’ll guide you and help you see any areas of improvement that need to be made.