I need to say something that might rock the boat this time of year. It might even rock your boat a little. Honestly, it’s kind of rocking mine.
Many of us are in the middle of making goals for the new year. We might not write them down on paper or plug them into an app, but the idea of being a better version of ourselves is swirling around in our heads. Even if we resolved not to make any resolutions this year, we almost can’t help it.
Basically, we want to be happier with ourselves and the lives we’re living, and it seems like a little self-improvement over the course of this new year might be the path to that happiness.
Just maybe, if we set the right goals and work really hard to achieve them, we’ll finally get it right. We’ll finally stop feeling like such a failure. We’ll finally be all we can be.
Unfortunately, we know that deep down inside we’re still the same person. We’re still fighting the same battles and dealing with the same issues we were before the ball dropped and the new year began, and no amount of resolutions or goals or will-power will change that.
Feeling a little sea sick yet?
Goals and the Gospel
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting goals. As a matter of fact, I think goals are very beneficial. They keep us on the right track and make us more productive. That’s good stuff!
But at this time of year, we’re in great danger of writing new laws for our life, calling them goals, and then feeling guilt-stricken when we can’t keep up.
We need to keep our hearts in check as we set goals and strive to achieve them because if we think they’re the path to happiness, we’ll either find ourselves living under a self-written law or falling back into the same old bad habits of piling up clutter and scarfing down cupcakes. Or, most likely, the one (living under the law) will lead us to the other (falling back into our former ways).
The answer to this dilemma is the gospel. It is essential that we rest in the work and grace of Jesus, even as we’re striving to achieve our new goals.
No amount of self-improvement will ever make us perfect. We will never be able to do enough to make us complete and whole women. It’s impossible.
Thankfully, Jesus was the perfect person we could never change ourselves into. He already gave us the free gift of His perfection when He took on our imperfection on the cross, and His grace lovingly covers over our every broken resolution and unrealized goal.
His grace is the necessary ingredient in our planning and goal-setting. Yes, we need to exert effort to achieve our goals, but let’s never forget that it is “God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
Rock or Sand
Our goals need the right foundation if they’re going to become a reality. Jesus is the only way to happiness, and our obedience to Him should be the foundation of our goals.
Jesus told a parable about building a house on either the rock or the sand. A house built on the rock of Jesus and the Word of God will stand, even in the storms of life. A house built on the sand of worldly desires will go “splat” (as the children’s song eloquently puts it).
So many voices out there today are peddling sand. It seems like everywhere I look, someone is offering the “secret” to success, health, simplicity, happiness. They are telling us how to be more and do more. And, while there may be some helpful nuggets in their “proven plan,” it’s really just a pile of sand and pride.
A Firm Foundation
My dear friend Leigh Ann Dutton has written an ebook called Life for Him: A Grace-Filled Look at Planning. I love this book because it doesn’t set out to help you be a better version of your sorry self. It isn’t about packing down the sand so you can feel a little more secure in your ability to be new and improved.
The goal of Live for Him is to help you glorify God by being who He created you to be. It encourages you to build your house upon the foundation of Jesus and live a life of obedience.
I reluctantly worked through the ebook and worksheets last year. I say “reluctantly” because I was weary of setting goals and failing, over and over again. It’s frustrating.
This process was different. It wasn’t frustrating; it was freeing. I didn’t set a bunch of random resolutions I knew I wouldn’t keep. Instead, I was guided through figuring out my God-given mission and purpose, with all my goals flowing out of that.
The second edition of Live for Him: A Grace-Filled Look at Planning was just released, and it has an even more comprehensive list of printable planning sheets and checklists. It’s the best resource I’ve seen for looking at planning and goal setting through the lens of glorifying God, and this is the perfect time of year for it!
I’m excited to get out the mission statement I created last year and consider where God might lead me in the coming months. I’m anxious to submit my hopes and dreams to the loving grace of God’s perfect will. I want to plan for growing in obedience to my Savior, which is God’s plan for true joy in my life and yours!
Have you set any goals for this year? Do you struggle with looking at your goals through the lens of God’s grace?
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