Today is the beginning of a new semester at John Brown University. With a new year of classes, I always encourage students to set some goals for the upcoming year. Obviously, each person has the goal of finishing the semester with the highest grades possible, but what about spiritual, relational, vocational, and personal goals?
Why Set Goals?
Paul emphasizes the importance of growth in Ephesians 4:
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:11-16 ESV, emphasis mine)
Goals are a valuable way to work towards this personal growth. They paint a picture of the person you’d like to be and lay out a road map to get there. God has gifted each of us with talents, desires, gifts, and abilities. As Christian stewards, we must seek to develop and grow the traits that God has given us so that, like Paul said, we can 1) build up the body of Christ 2) to avoid being led astray by false doctrine 3) become more like Christ. Pursuing goals enables us to better glorify God, advance His Kingdom, and share His gospel.
Goal Setting Tips
When setting goals, I’ve found the S.M.A.R.T. model to be helpful. According to this model, each goal should be:
- Specific- the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific, they must outline exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and which attributes are important.
- Measurable- if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether progress is being made. Measuring progress is helps you stay on track, reach target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs on the continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.
- Attainable- the goal is neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them happen.
- Realistic- a goal must matter to where you are in life right now. Relevant goals, when met, drive you forward. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal.
- Timely- ground goals within a time frame and give them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps you focus your efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This also prevents goals from being overtaken by the demands of the daily grind. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.
(Adapted from Attitude is Everything by Paul J. Meyer)
So this semester, set some S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself, especially when it comes to spiritual development. Share them with someone (a friend, family member, or Kameron, Anne, or I) so that they can pray for you and keep you accountable as you work to achieve them. Ground your pursuit of goals in the truth of God’s Word. As Peter wrote in the final verses of his second letter, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18 ESV)
Post by Lawson Hembree