Three Guidelines for Setting Family Goals
My husband and I are goal setters. For him (a natural-born leader and athlete), it’s about the win; he thrives on the personal challenge of setting a target and hitting it. For me, well, I need a destination to keep me from getting derailed by the daily scenery (oh look, a squirrel… or a basket of laundry).
Each new year we plan a time to sit together and write a list of personal and family goals. These have become more sophisticated over the years, organized into categories such as Spiritual Growth, Health and Wellness, Family Time, and New Frontier. Our goals keep us intentional and open to adventure. They run the gamut from small pursuits (read one book a month) to big (launch a consulting business), but they all have one thing in common.
They’re not just our goals.
They’re God’s, too.
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9, NLT).
The most important consideration in setting any goal—for the Christian—is to include God in the planning. Here are three guidelines to follow when dreaming up your personal and family plans for the New Year.
1. Check your motives. Why do I want this? What purpose will it serve? Is there anything about this desire that does not align with God’s will and truths? Is there anything about it that does?
These are the vulnerable questions we need to explore before setting any particular goal. God already knows us inside and out. Our job is to get to know Him better. Because the more we know Him and his goodness toward us, the more we’ll trust Him, until eventually our own desires will start to align with His.
“People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:2–3, NLT).
2. Agree with one another. So your husband wants to take the kids to Disney this year but you’re thinking Grand Canyon. What to do? Family goals require some heartfelt discussion and a willingness to consider options. If you’re not united on the goal, it will be much harder to reach—or worse, it could breed contention. (Can we all agree one universal goal is to get along this year, amen?)
Family goals are meant to bring the family closer toward a common purpose. So aim to set goals that both husband and wife can rally behind.
“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18, NLT).
3. Pray. How do we know which goals are in God’s will for us? How can we understand how our motives stack up to His? And how do we overcome our selfishness enough to see eye to eye with our spouse? The answer is pretty simple. We pray. Through daily conversations with God—which involve reading His Word (it’s how God speaks to us) and praying (which is how we respond to Him)—we can learn to set wise, God-led goals. And then? We get the privilege of praying daily for God to help us reach them.
“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him” (1 John 5:14, NLT).
The best news? No matter what your goals may be, you never have to chase them alone. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13, NLT). Praise the Lord!
When I read things like this it reminds me how often we cultivate distance rather than intimacy with God, not by our desire but by our expectations. It was intimacy with our Father which was clearly the posture taken by our Savior. We would be well advised to notice that this intimacy did not lead Jesus where He would have chosen to go at all. Why then is our expectation of that same intimacy so abysmally small when we are the inheritors of the same Sonship as our most magnificent Benefactor. There is little in scripture which would lead us away from the conviction that the goal of our Creator is the establishment of communion between us and Him which results in the irrevocable bond with Him we call Heaven. In that sense, obedience to Him is not about where we spend our vacations but whether in that act, or any act in which we engage for that matter, we obtain sustenance in the consummate communion with Him which will result in our entry into eternal life with Him in heaven. “including God in our plans” is the road which actually creates distance from God and can lead us and those for whom we are responsible as surely away from Heaven as any overt sin. It is required of those who wish to enter Heaven that God Himself IS our plan. He is the “I am”. He is our all. Nothing short of consummate communion with Him is our destiny and this alone should be our expectation as we live out our lives at the foot of His throne. If we fail in this simplest, most basic of Christian convictions, illustrated most eloquently by the life of our Savior, we place our lives and the lives of our families in a jeopardy for which we will be hard pressed to account upon our examination before our Creator.
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