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Unfailing Goals

One time when Michigan State was playing UCLA in football, the score was tied at 14 with only seconds to play. Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State’s coach, sent in place kicker Dave Kaiser who booted a field goal that won the game. When the kicker returned to the bench, Daugherty said, “nice going, but you didn’t watch the ball after you kicked it.” “That’s right, Coach,” Kaiser replied. “I was watching the referee instead to see how he’d signal it. I forgot my contact lenses, and I couldn’t see the goal posts.” Bits & Pieces, September 15, 1994,

This may not happen always. Desired victory is possible when we play well working towards the goal. A Christian must set goals if he wants to be successful in his Christian life. We in UESI give emphasis for Planning and Setting Goals and we teach our members to plan and to set goals. We have organized Planning Conferences too to set long term plans. We teach and train our students in Training Camps on how to set goals. After all these how much care do we take to set goals in our personal lives, studies or profession, family and in our ministry responsibilities? Sometimes we do certain things without proper planning and goals; people appreciate our efforts; God blesses our efforts and gives good results. But, should we continue with this? In our personal and family lives too we do things in a haphazard way and we are satisfied with the outcome. Did Jesus teach us on setting goals? Yes, we see that in Luke 14: 28.

Why do we lag in setting goals? We talk so much about setting goals, but we fail to set goals, aimed at nothing. It is necessary that we need always to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Before we decide anything, we pray. It is very good but we make the following three faulty assumptions in determining God’s will when we think about setting goals:

(1) We think that our feelings are an infallible guide for sensing the leading of the Spirit.
(2) We believe that the Holy Spirit leads people only in a spontaneous way.
(3) We subconsciously reject the idea that we could hear the Spirit’s voice through the Scriptures.

I suggest three important aspects to be considered while setting goals to come out of these faulty assumptions. They are, (a) Our Role in setting Goals, (Goals Resolved) (b) Role of God and His Word (Goals Approved) and (c) Setting the Goals in action (Goals Applied).

GOALS RESOLVED: We are habituated to make New Year resolutions but always fail in them. So, some of us resolve not to make any resolutions and fail. Here we are not going to discuss New Year resolutions but goal setting in every aspect of our lives. We see in the Scriptures that St. Paul talks about doing things in order (I Cor. 14: 40). It is significant to note what God’s will is in our actions before we set goals for life and ministry. It will be appropriate to remember what St. Paul said, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’ Rom. 12:2 (ESV). Use of the renewed mind alone can help us know the will of God; we need a mind that is controlled by the Spirit of God. The author of Proverbs has given us the model of Planning by ants (Pro. 6: 6 -11 ESV). Sluggishness hinders us putting our mind to proper use. Laziness only prevents many believers today from proper planning and active involvement. But we blame it on the leading of the Holy Spirit, saying the Lord has not led us. We shall not sneak out saying ‘God the Holy Spirit will guide me time to time, as to what to do’. We read in Proverbs ‘The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty’ (21:5). So it is imperative that we use all our God-given resources like, time, intelligence and other resources to set goals so that we achieve the best. Meanwhile, all these will not guarantee success every time; we need to commit our plans in the hands of the Lord and humble ourselves before him remembering our limitations. This leads us to another truth of the Scriptures and we should learn to say with the Apostle James, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (4: 15). Let us further elaborate on this in the next point.

GOALS APPROVED: We need to recognize God in everything we do and plan to do; James calls it as ‘arrogance’ (4: 16) when we do not recognize God in what we plan and do and are self involved. With this thought, we shall not expect that we will achieve whatever we have planned. St. Paul experienced God the Holy Spirit disallowing some of his travel plans in Acts 16: 6, 7. Paul had seen the truth of Proverbs 16: 9 ‘The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps’ quite frequently in his ministry. It is not wrong to have ambitious plans based on our dreams and wishes; but we need to surrender them to God’s hands and wait for His approval. He stops certain plans immediately and allows certain of them to work on to teach some lessons from them. We read Paul planning in Acts 15: 36, the Apostles in 1: 3 – 6 and the Lord Jesus in Mt. 10: 5 -15 and 26: 17 – 19 in the Scriptures. These men and the Lord Jesus were led by the Holy Spirit and they knew the Scriptures. God the Holy Spirit will not guide us into something new that is contradictory to the Scriptures. He will not approve plans which some men claim that are from God but not based on the Scriptures. Those are plans that we approve in order to facilitate self promotion and building our own kingdom. It is essential for us too, to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit and to be guided by the Scriptures. Moreover, we need to spend time to rightly divide the Word of God so that we will be able to know God’s guidance through His word.

GOALS APPLIED: I suggest three kinds of goals for our understanding; firstly the goals that I set for personal life, secondly the goals that I set for my family in consultation with my spouse and children and thirdly the goals that my employer gives to me in my organization. In all these, we need to be accountable to God and to one another. Even in the goals that we set for our personal life we need to fix our mentor to be accountable to him/her apart from God. Married ones need to be accountable to their spouses and the single ones to their parents primarily. This will help us work out our goals as a team; if we fail in reaching the goals, this team can help us review our goals with the team and reset the
goals prayerfully.

Let us be careful not to mix up with these three areas. We cannot evade our responsibility to our parents, spouse or children pointing out the work pressure in the office. Avoid getting tensed with your family members. Keep your promises to your spouse or children like eating out or picnic etc., If a Christian is not accountable in his/her responsibilities at home, we cannot expect that person to be sincere in the office or any responsibility in the church or ministry. It is a small group at home that a person is accountable for; whereas the team that sets goal in the office or church or fellowship is large. So, our failure in the office or in the fellowship damages a bigger group.

May the Lord help us set goals using our renewed minds commit them in God’s hands for His approval and seek His help in achieving them. Moreover, let us learn to work with the team that God has given us in personal, family, professional and ministerial lives!

 T. Athma Soruban

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