I have grown up with the idea that goals are great: set them and achieve them! However, as I grow in Christ, I am questioning this principle.
I have been very goal-oriented. I’ve customarily set goals and achieved them, striving and exerting myself as necessary, feeling extreme pressure to accomplish all the goals I set. All that personal effort has opened the door for pride to creep in. On the other hand, if I failed to achieve a goal, I felt the same kind of guilt as I would feel if I had done something wrong. Pride if I accomplished the goal, guilt if I failed: neither of these results is good.
Perhaps I have set my goals too seriously, almost as if they were vows, as if they were God’s word. I never thought of it this way before, but it would explain the feeling of guilt and also pressure, for vows are to be taken seriously and fulfilled.
If goals are treated as vows, goals should not be set very often, if ever, for scripture warns against setting many vows. Let your vows be few, and always keep them. It would be better not to vow, than to vow and not fulfill it.
We do not know what the future holds. If we set goals and then assume we must fulfill them no matter what, like a vow, then we are assuming that we can control the future; but we cannot control the future. We do not know all of what God’s will for us in the future is. Setting a goal and considering it a “must do” is assuming we know what God wants ahead of time.
It’s not that setting goals is wrong. It’s that if goals are being set, we should not treat the goals as vows. We need to always attach an “if God is willing” to the goal, if not out loud, then certainly in our heart.
From now on, I hope to qualify my goals with “if the Lord God is willing”–and then accept God’s will. I want to constantly seek God and do His will. As I set goals, I want to seek God’s will in setting those goals; I need to keep an “if the Lord is willing” in there, and then trust God to help me and guide me.
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Matthew 5:33-37
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. James 4:13-17
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. James 5:12
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I’d love to hear your comments below!