I’ve never been good at setting new year's goals and resolutions. I’ve often felt pressured to set some kind of goal or resolution to work toward since the buzz in the new year is typically all about what you plan to accomplish. But even if I pick one or two resolutions, I make some progress toward those goals and then give up at some point in the year. Over time, I’ve discovered that I often give up working toward my goals because I lost a sense of why I chose those goals in the first place.
The “why?” behind our goals is important. The “why?” is important because it keeps us focused on the purpose of our goals as we work toward them throughout the year. Without knowing the purpose of our goals, we can go about them for the wrong reasons Or, like me, the goal goes unaccomplished because there was no set purpose or significance to it. As followers of Christ, the “why?” behind every goal should be to glorify God. When we aim to glorify God with our goals, we keep God at the center of our resolutions and are more motivated to accomplish them.
How God-glorifying goals change our perspective and motivation
Our world tends to advocate for making goals and resolutions all about us. This makes sense since we are the ones setting the goals, and we are the ones involved in those goals. But when we place ourselves at the center of our goals, it becomes easier to make excuses for not working toward those goals. For example, say that you set a new year resolution to have a tidy home so that you feel more comfortable. One day you come home from work and notice that your room is pretty messy. Oh well, I’ll just clean it tomorrow, you think, and you ignore the mess so you can watch Netflix.
While we often have days like this, and it’s not wrong to enjoy a time of rest instead of cleaning, in this instance, the goal didn’t seem to matter because it impacted you and you alone. But consider how your response might have been different if you were married or had a roommate. You would have likely given your cleaning goal more thought because you knew that your decision to clean impacted yourself and another person.
Similarly, when we set goals ultimately not for ourselves but for God and His glory, we give them greater attention. And greater attention often produces greater motivation. As believers, all that we do is meant to be done for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). God has saved us by His grace through His Son, Jesus, and our lives are lived for Him because He has saved us and made us new. This service to God is a grateful response to God for His amazing grace and gift of salvation. When we view all that we do as for the Lord, we focus on glorifying Him in all areas of our lives, and we are motivated to complete the goals that glorify Him.
What do God-glorifying goals look like?
We may understand that God-glorifying goals change our perspective and motivation but wonder what these goals actually look like. We might be surprised to discover that they don’t look much different from the goals we normally set. The only difference is that the ultimate purpose is to view that goal through a God-honoring lens. Let’s return to the cleaning example from above.
Desiring to have a tidy home is not a bad thing, but one way to make this goal God-glorifying would be to change the “why?” behind this goal. We can change the “why?” from wanting to feel more comfortable in our home to desiring to honor the home God has given us. We can apply this mentality to all the goals that we wish to accomplish.
Often, when we make the “why?” about glorifying God, we realize that some of the goals we thought we wanted to accomplish aren’t that necessary. Therefore, setting God-glorifying goals helps us focus on what matters most to God and His kingdom. As believers, God’s Word calls us to set our minds on God’s kingdom (Colossians 3:2), and setting God-glorifying goals helps us to keep seeking God’s kingdom in our daily lives. And because we are to keep seeking the kingdom as believers, we will likely find that we will keep pursuing the goals we set rather than give up on them.
Remember the “Who” as you consider the “why?”
As you progress toward your God-glorifying goals, remember that God’s power is within you. Sometimes we give up on our goals because we believe that we do not have the ability to complete them. But as followers of Christ, we are equipped with the Holy Spirit. We have the Spirit of God inside of us who empowers us to honor and glorify the Lord.
So in the moments you want to give up, remember Who is with you. Remember that you have the ability to accomplish your God-glorifying goals because the Holy Spirit aids you. But even if you break a goal or give up on a goal, remember that God is a God of grace. Even if we mess up our goals, we can rest in God’s grace and rely on the Holy Spirit to keep honoring the Lord in every area of our lives.