Every January, I make a set of goals to enhance various areas of my life. I choose five and this year I chose my spiritual life, marriage, my children, my career and my health. As I write my goals, however, fear creeps in and I often don’t meet all my goals, which is a source of frustration for me.
The main verse I want to focus on is Philippians 1:1-6. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:1-6
Yes, this verse speaks about finishing well. But in order to finish our spiritual walks well, we must start well, too. So we are ensured success.
A few things about this verse:
Be thankful- Paul is thankful for all the Philippian church has accomplished thus far. He doesn’t seem to focus on what they haven’t done, just what they have done. Paul begins with thanksgiving. So should we when we think about our goals for the year. Be thankful for the things you have accomplished so far; not what you haven’t done. Satan wants us to focus on our failures so we will not accomplish our goals or grow in our faith. That helps us to refocus on all that god has done and continues to do.
Be confident- Paul was confident based on what he had seen and heard about this church that they would fulfill their calling to spread the good news of Christ as instructed. He was also confident on God’s faithfulness. It didn’t matter how many times they messed up, Paul knew that God still chose to partner with the despite their shortcomings and unfaithfulness to him.
It is the same with us. God chooses to partner with us despite our shortcomings and faults. Even when we say “I’m praying for you” but don’t ( and we’ve all done that) or we failed to send that card to encourage someone or confront that person when they are gossiping or slandering her reputation. We all have failed to step up and do the right things at pivotal moments in our walk with God. But God still loves us anyway, and he wants to use us to accomplish Hs work for the kingdom.
Which brings me to our goals. Whether we are setting goals for our personal growth or for our church as a whole, here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Break up with perfect- God says He will perfect His work within us. But to cover up for our own inadequacies, we fall into the trap of perfectionism, making sure everything we do meets others’ standards so no one believes we are a failure. There’s no such thing as perfect! When we can transform our minds and accept this reality, the pressure is off. We no longer need to keep up a façade that we are better than we really are.
Have a vision- Goals are not goals unless they have a vision attached to them. Proverbs 29:18 says, ‘Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” We can want to lose weight or get out of debt all we want, but without a commitment attached to it, it will never come to fruition.
My husband ran his first half marathon two years ago. He felt so accomplished. But it wasn’t easy. He had to commit to running everyday and for the duration set forth by the program he followed. He couldn’t run a mile or two and then quit because he didn’t want to. His ultimate goal was to run a marathon, which takes months of training, eating right and building momentum. It’s the same with any goal we have. We didn’t gain excessive weight or have out of control debt overnight. It takes planning, setting goals and sticking to them.
Expect setbacks- When he ran, there were days when his hip or foot hurt when running too much, so he had t stop running and resume once his injuries had healed. He wanted to be completed with his training earlier than he actually was, but setbacks, much like life happens. Anytime you try to improve your life, especially spiritually, expect Satan to throw you a curve ball. That’s his job. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” When your guard is down, that is when Satan strikes. Keep your guard up by putting on the full armor of God. Read your word; memorize Scripture. Keep communion with God both through prayer and listening. Practice silence and solitude regularly. Fast when you can.
Keep accountable- one of the most successful weight loss programs is Weight Watchers. Why? Not only do they have meetings where members must come together and share their successes and failures, they also have to weigh in. It is a physical reminder of the accomplishments or failures of what members have done. As Christians, we are told we need to walk in the light, if we want to be like Jesus. 1 John 1:6-8 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Rather than looking to your pastor to perform all the spiritual duties of the church, scripture says one of our roles as Christians is to be there to help each other on our journey. This means helping people get out of sin and walk righteously.