“Mom, why didn’t God accept Cain’s offering?” I sighed in frustration. How was my family going to reach our goal of reading the Bible in a year if they kept stopping me to ask me questions? My frustration, which seemed so justifiable at the time, is laughable in retrospect. It wasn’t until I shared my annoyance with a close friend that my perspective adjusted. “Why do you want to read the Bible through with your children?” she asked.
“So they can know God better, become more curious about Him, and then seek Him on their own," I responded.
“Isn’t that what’s happening when they ask you questions about Him?”
Sometimes when we make New Year’s resolutions and goals we forget about the purpose we had in mind when we began. Purpose should be the fuel to our goals, the motivator to keep us moving in the direction of those things we want to achieve. Let’s take the most common of New Year’s Resolutions, losing weight. Without an additional purpose, we often fall off the bandwagon before January is over. However, if our purpose is to get a better doctor’s report, or to take better care of the amazing bodies God has given us, or even to look better in our swimsuit on an upcoming trip to Hawaii, we tend to be more motivated to continue. Perhaps when we grow weary in well doing remembering the purpose of our goal can bring us through the temptation to quit.
Set goals on purpose. In other words, don’t set goals without a purpose in mind. There are too many worthwhile things to be done to waste time on goals without purpose. Anything worth doing has a purpose in mind. This can be especially difficult when setting family goals. We want to choose goals that reflect God’s desires for our families. It’s easy to set goals because another family does it that way, or because it seems to be the popular thing to do.
Have you ever heard the story about the family ham? One Easter, Granny was invited to her granddaughter’s house for Easter when she noticed that she cut off each end of the ham. When Granny questioned the young woman about why she was doing this, she replied, “I don’t know, that’s how my mom always did it.” When Granny asked her daughter why she had started this practice, her daughter answered, “Mother, I was only copying what you always did.” Granny started laughing until tears ran down her cheeks. “Ladies, the only reason I ever cut off each end of the ham was to fit the ham into my pan!” Many times when we search out the purpose of a goal, we find that it no longer exists!
Allow purpose to fuel your goals. After the first few weeks of January pass by, the novelty of having a resolution wears off. Remembering your purpose can drive you through the obstacles you encounter on the way to achieving your goals. Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The prize is the motivation for the goal.
Write your goals and purpose and display them where they can be seen. Another excellent practice can be to find a picture of the dreams God has placed in your heart, and put it somewhere your eyes wander often. Habakkuk 2:2 “ Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
Bathe your goal setting in prayer. Ask for God to give you direction as you seek goals that align with His word. Ask for him to give you the perseverance to overcome the challenges that you may encounter. Keep praying your way through the process to keep you oriented to his leading.
Keep the main thing, the main thing. When you are tempted, as I was, to forget the purpose and become frustrated about the goal remember the end result you hope to possess. Sometimes the very thing frustrating you is a stepping-stone toward your goal.
Whatever your goal, remembering the purpose you had in mind when you made it and trust in your unfailing God can help you to push through difficulties toward a victorious end! After all, Jim Rohn once said, “If you have a big enough ‘why’ you can achieve any ‘how.'"
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra