Does the Christian life ever overwhelm you? Because lately, I’ve been overwhelmed. I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman. I want to be a woman committed to prayer, studying the word, caring for the poor, and loving those around me. But then, the days get busy and the weeds of life tighten around my neck and draw my attention to Facebook and to the laundry.
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It’s easy to get sucked into a vortex of crazy when you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re going. Even when you see the end picture, it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t have manageable steps.
We need goals. It’s just how we’re hardwired to work. Our brains need to focus on the end of the picture and need manageable steps to reach the finish line. We set goals for academics, work, relationships, home projects – just about every area of our life. Spiritual life develops in the same manner. We simply cannot move forward without setting goals for ourselves.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV
Even Jesus had to have a goal. He endured his suffering because He could look to the joy set before Him. He knew that He had to endure this difficult step to achieve His ultimate goal.Even Jesus had to have a goal. He endured his suffering because He could look to the joy set before Him. He knew that He had to endure this difficult step to achieve His ultimate goal. Click To Tweet
We too need to set spiritual goals. We need to take inventory of our weaknesses and ascertain where we need to grow. Then we need to plan to take action.
1. Bible Study
We all know that we need to spend time reading and meditating on the Word of God. But often, we don’t even pick up our Bibles because we don’t know what to read. Meditate on what God has done for His people. Set goals to pick up your Bible and start reading something. Try a Scripture writing plan. Pick a book and commit to reading through a chapter each morning (one of the shorter New Testament books is a great place to start).
2. Bible Memory
Not only should we be reading Scripture, but we should also be hiding it deep within our hearts so that we can stand against the temptations we will face and find encouragement in the Truth of the Lord. Set goals for memorizing Scripture. If this is new to you, try out different memorization techniques. The Daily Grace CO has some amazing products and verse cards to help with Bible memorization. I personally have found that larger passages tend to stick in my brain a little easier than single verses. Find what works for you and set goals for how often you want to memorize or how many verses you’d like to memorize in a week, month, or year.
Again, this is an area where you need to find what works for you. Explore different techniques. Perhaps set goals to try a new way of prayer (prayer beads, journals, etc.) each month. Then, set your goals. Maybe you want to spend the first 5 minutes of your day in prayer. Maybe you can do more than that. Perhaps you want to consider praying the hours or spending the last part of your day on your knees. Set a goal and stick to it.
Check out Disciplines of the Faith: 5 Tools to Deepen Your Prayer Life for more on cultivating a deep prayer life.
Despite the common narrative that we should only serve when our heart is “really there,” we should. Don’t get me wrong, we should work to cultivate a heart that truly desires to serve those around us. But we do that by setting aside our selves and stepping up to serve even when we don’t feel like it. Christ served and called us to do the same. If we are to follow in His footsteps, we need to get serious about setting aside time in our lives to serve the least of these. Discern what that looks like in this season for you then start making commitments.
My sin isn’t something I really want to think about. I would much rather prefer to focus on those around me and give myself a pass for being pretty good. But the Bible calls us to repentance. We can only do that when we are examining ourselves and re-centering our hearts around who God would have us to be. Perhaps this means that you take time each day to reflect and repent. Perhaps this means every week you sit down, look at the past week, repent, and set goals to help cultivate Christ-like behavior in the week to come.
For more on examination and confession of sin, check out 3 Powerful Ways to Encourage Self-Examination and Confession of Sin.
Christians are called to be a hospitable people. We should open our home to others in the Church and to those in need. We would not be honoring this call if we did not set hospitality goals. Open your door. Try and set aside at least one night a week (Welcome Wednesday, anyone?) to open your table to others. If you can do more, do more. There are so many simple ways you can extend hospitality to your friends and neighbors.
To hear my story in cultivating a heart for hospitality, check out When Hosting Becomes the Gospel
7. Church Involvement
While I appreciate the Protestant Church’s emphasis on the priesthood of all believers, I fear that, when this met American individualism, we lost something truly precious to Christ – His Church. We are the Church but we are also called to be apart of the Church. In the age of satellite campuses, podcasts, and televised services, it’s tempting to neglect to join with other believers. If this was a struggle for the Early Church, how much more so do we have the opportunity to be tempting to neglect the local body. But it is important that we are involved in a local church.
Maybe you need to take the step to commit to Sunday participation with a congregation. Perhaps you’re ready to commit to membership or step up to lead a new ministry. Evaluate where you are and ask God to show you where you need to be. Then take steps to reach your goals.
I encourage you to look at where you are currently in your faith and at where God is calling you to be. Then, set 3-5 little steps that you need to take to achieve your goal. #christianlife #goals Click To Tweet
Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:9-10, ESV
Each of these areas needs to be prayerfully evaluated. I encourage you to look at where you are currently in your faith and at where God is calling you to be. Then, set 3-5 little steps that you need to take to achieve your goal. For example, if your goal is to read through a book of the Bible each week but you currently only read your Bible sporadically, you could set goals to read a paragraph each night before bed from a book of the Bible, then a chapter, then longer.
But you need to treat your faith seriously. You cannot afford to simply hope that you will be more Christ-like – you need to actively involve yourself in the process by practicing the spiritual disciplines God has instituted for your benefit. Set goals then, by God’s grace, practice them until they are habits.