‘Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him,
“Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox, `I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal”.
The King James Bible translates ‘reach my goal’ as ‘I will be perfected’. However, Jesus was already perfect. His nature’s pure, his life’s sinless and his character’s divine. There’s nothing to perfect in our Lord. Unlike us Jesus isn’t a work in progress. But he came to earth on a mission. Furthermore, he wouldn’t allow king Herod or the Pharisees to deter him from that mission.
Jesus had yet to defeat the devil, conquer sin and destroy the powers of death. Therefore, the NIV translation quoting Jesus,
‘I will reach my, goal’ is appreciated.
The Greek word means ‘to complete something’.
It’s no surprise then, “It is finished.” are the last three words Jesus uttered before he died on the cross. John 19:30 It was a special mission intended by God before the world was made. Rev 13:8
Jesus fulfilled this great redemptive work at Calvary.
Our goals may not be so dramatic as redeeming mankind. But we all have things to finish. Life ambitions, career aims and personal desires are awaiting completion. Important things, meaningful things, happy things, valuable things, worthwhile things, nice things, and lots and lots of things still need to be done.
Considering this to be the case, here are nine helpful suggestions which will enable us to set our goals and achieve them.
1. Have clear goals
Jesus was not vague about the things that he wanted to do.
‘I seek not to please myself but him who sent me’ John 5:13
The Lord’s purpose was always clear. Even with regards to his death and resurrection,
‘I lay down my life–only to take it up again’. John 10:17
The mission in the mind of Christ was explicit and uncomplicated. Nothing hit and miss about the goal Jesus wanted to reach.
Be as specific as possible when setting your goals. Know what you are aiming for. When you are aware of what you want to do, then you can,
2. Commit to fulfilling your goals
‘I will reach my goal’ is a determined statement. Jesus was unstoppable.
His job was completed despite the devil’s temptations. Herod’s threats couldn’t prevent him from reaching his goal. The jealous Pharisees were unable to derail him from the task in hand. Jesus allowed nothing to thwart his aim.
How determined are you to achieve your goals? Successful projects encounter many setbacks. When this happens, determination is needed to carry us forward.
History records some facts about the life of Prince Blücher. He commanded the Prussian Army of Silesiaat the Battle of the Nations where Napoleon was decisively defeated. For his role, Blücher was made a field marshal and received his title of Prince of Wahlstatt.
While by no means a military genius, his sheer determination and ability to spring back from errors made him a competent leader. Known for his fiery personality, he was nicknamed Marschall Vorwärts. This means “Marshal Forward”. He was given this nickname by his soldiers because of his aggressive approach in warfare.
After his death, an imposing mausoleum was built for his remains.
We must learn to Marshall Forward to achieve our goals. Press on through times of discouragement. Repent of failure. Stand firm in trials. Handle disappointment. Get back on track when something drags us away from our course.
Jesus the Prince of Peace had an aggressive approach towards achieving his goals. Christ knew exactly what it was like to marshal forward.
‘And it came to pass when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem’ Luke 9:51
When the going gets tough. Don’t quit. Marshall forward!
And this is one of the reasons why you should,
3. Create goals which are realistic for you
You’ll be inspired to press forward and pursue your goals so long as they are realistic for you to accomplish. At no time did Jesus think about delegating the work of the cross. Jesus didn’t ask any of the disciples or his mother Mary to stand in for him at Calvary. The reason is it was an unrealistic task for them to do. They would never be qualified to make atonement for the sins of the world.
I enjoy watching football. Nevertheless, I couldn’t set myself the goal of playing in the next world cup final. I’m 58 years old, undergone heart surgery and possess no footballing skills. No matter how much faith I have the goal is not realistic for me. We should avoid setting ourselves impractical goals.
Just because we have the desire to fulfill a certain goal doesn’t mean the goal is within our reach. We must always see ourselves achieving the goals that we set. To help us do this you might want to,
4. Write down your goals.
Goals, which are written down are 20 times more likely to be achieved than goals not made explicit. Our goals may not be like God’s holy writ or infallible word. In fact, our goals are constantly open to revision and correction. Nevertheless, the importance of writing something down to be accomplished should not be underestimated.
‘For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished’. Mathew 5:18
God has his goals written down.
It has been said that a survey was made of individuals graduating from Yale University in 1954. It was found that only 3% had definite written financial goals; 10% had a clear idea, but had not written it down; 87% had no idea of their goals. 20 years later, these Yale graduates were again interviewed. The 3% who had written goals had made more money than all the rest combined.
Pen, scribble or type out your goals for inspiration. Also,
5. Deal with any hindrances which prevent your goals from being achieved.
Goals are often threatened by various things. We must eliminate or lesson the threats. Look out for pitfalls. Take steps to steer clear of anything which frustrates our dreams or hinders success. For the Christian believer spiritual alertness is required,
‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation’ said Jesus.
Nehemiah had a goal to return to Jerusalem and repair the broken walls and rebuild the war-torn City. But he was not free to do so. Nehemiah’s time and priorities were tied to serving the king of Babylon. But this hindrance was overcome when Nehemiah prayed
‘give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man’ Neh.1:11
‘And’ said Nehemiah, ‘because the gracious hand of God was on me, the king granted my requests’ Neh. 2:9
The king granted Nehemiah’s request to go to Jerusalem. In fact, the king even gave assistance to the mission by providing supporting letters, escort for safe conduct, and materials and resources for the project. Neh. 2:7-8
Being aware of any hindrances to our goals is the first step to overcoming them.
Not just with prayer but if necessary we can upskill ourselves, re-educate ourselves, re-energize ourselves to overcome hindrances and reach our goals. You might also need to ask yourself,
6. What will change if I reach my goal?
Christianity has about 2.1 billion followers worldwide. Did Jesus know that such a following of people would result from the goal he accomplished at Calvary? Of course, he did.
‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’
Will achieving any of your goals change the lives of others? If so who?
If you fulfill an ambition what impact will it have on you, your friends and your family? Will you need to make any adjustments?
Achieving goals can impact our finances. Losing, three stone in weight can be an expensive goal as you will need to replace all your clothes.
The completion of a goal can change your social life.
I fulfilled a modest ambition to become a home group leader. I then spent hours preparing and arranging things for the meetings. Very time consuming. I opened up my house to visitors on a weekly basis, and provided tea and biscuits. This was more challenging than I thought it would be.
If you were to reach a career goal for a job promotion you might have the blessing of a pay rise. But then again you could have the burden of more responsibilities.
Once a gardener, noticed that our church lawn and flower beds were disheveled.
‘Why is it such a mess’
‘We don’t have anyone to look after it’ I said.
‘I’ll do it free of charge’ he said.
‘Well you’ve recently joined the church let’s think about it for a while’
‘I don’t need to think about it. I love gardening and want to do it for the Lord. Besides I’ve been asking God to find me something to do for a ministry and this is it I’m sure’.
It was his goal to provide a service for the Lord’s church. The gardener felt that his skills suited him for the task.
We brought the man’s request to the leadership team to be approved.
And so, he assumed the responsibility of the church’s gardening. He did such a good job within four weeks I was asked at a pastor’s meeting’
‘Who does your gardening?’
‘It’s fantastic. I pass your church every morning on the way to work. I have to say the gardener does an excellent job’.
All went well for a time. Then the gardener became critical. ‘No body helps me’. ‘Someone’s trampled down a flower’. ‘The lawn mower you have is useless and I can’t keep using my own lawnmower’. Soon after he resigned and left the church.
If we’re not prepared to take on the responsibilities that come with achieving our goals, we may become resentful. If this happens we reach our goals in vain.
Therefore, we need to consider the blessings and buffetings which arise through achieving our goals. Another helpful observation about goal setting is that you should,
7. Know when your goal is achieved
‘It is finished’ said Jesus as he drew his last breath on the cross.
Christianity itself had only just begun. The next step in Christ’s mission was the resurrection, then the ascension, then the Holy Spirit descent at Pentecost, and now the establishing of the church as we know it today. All this continues but the price for sin had been paid in full on the cross. The debt to God was finished. Jesus knew that his crucifixion had satisfied the demands of God’s law. The Lord was fully aware that through the shedding of his blood there was now remission for sins. The goal at Calvary had been reached and Jesus knew it.
Not everyone can recognize this finished work. They see Jesus as a helpless victim. But the cross is the fulfillment of a divine goal.
Can you identify what success looks like? Goals are not endless projects. Dreams come true, visions are fulfilled and tasks are completed. And we must recognize when the job’s done.
8 Your goals should reflect the will of God for your life
“The last thing I wanted to do was be a preacher,” said evangelist Billy Graham. Yet that’s exactly what God required and what Billy pursued.
Christians should continually find out what God wants for their lives. When setting our goals, we should always ask,
‘is this thing right for me?’
Is this building project right for our church? Is the Holy Spirit leading me into this career? Is the timing right for doing this project? This is vital.
God’s goals are always achieved by God’s grace. Even the most difficult goals should reflect the will of God and nothing shall be impossible. Jesus was traumatized in Gethsemane and he prayed,
“Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will”
My goal must be your goal. My task, your task. My ambition, your ambition. My desires, your desires. And finally,
9 Remember, goals are unique and have their own time scale for completion
A chicken egg takes approximately 21 days to break into life. A human embryo takes approximately 9 months and an elephant takes approximately 2 years. Goals are like this sometimes. They each have their own gesticulation period.
Some things are accomplished quickly, other things take months to achieve. And some things take years before they are finished. Time scales often very according to an individual’s circumstances, motivating drives and opportunities. Some people pass their driving test within twelve weeks. Others take years. Each case is based on its own merits. But ultimately, our life is a combination of long-term and short-term goals.