Setting Goals for a Fruitful 2016

This piece was originally published on another blog that I edit for pastors. However, anybody who wants to grow and build a productive and fruitful life can benefit from the principles that are laid out here. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Why is it that we always say “Happy New Year!”? What makes the New Year so happy?

Maybe it’s simply because everybody has high hopes and expectations for the coming year. Maybe it’s because we pray that the struggles and suffering of last year would not be transferred into the new year. We know that we will always have challenges and difficulty, yet we are hopeful that the new year will bring with it blessing and prosperity that might be more bountiful than that of the hardship.

We know that we’re indelibly bonded to Christ, and thus destined to partake in the “fellowship of his sufferings.” Nevertheless, it is always our hope that we might receive more good than evil, more positive than negative, more blessing than burden. We don’t know what the new year will bring, but because we hope for God’s best, we “press towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Here’s another tool to help you press on. You know what they say, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” In order to be fruitful with the mission God has ordained us to pursue we must be careful to develop a clear plan of action.

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CAUTION: It is possible that we can become so consumed with productivity that we become imbalanced and intemperate.

One of our constant goals should be growth. Our focus should be growth. Not simply more for the sake of more: more members, more education, more money, more accomplishments, etc. This is not the goal. Our goal must be growth. There is a difference between growth and swelling. Both include a kind of increase, but one is healthy and the other is not. Growth is healthy sustainable increase. Swelling is unhealthy and unsustainable.

The primary key to sustainable growth is a vibrant relationship with Christ. Without Him we can do nothing. However, in Christ all things are possible. Christ also tempers and clarifies our inmost desires. His Spirit teaches us and guides us along the path that we should go. In Christ we learn to “lean not on your own understanding…and he will make your paths straight.” He gives wisdom, peace and strength for the journey. Furthermore, the journey itself is about Him. After all, He is “The Way.”

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Now that we have a clear understanding of the necessity and spirit of setting goals, let’s focus on a few tools for effective goal-setting. First, a goal must be S.M.A.R.T. (Hat-tip to Taurus Montgomery). That means they must be SpecificMeasureableAttainableRelevant and Time-bound. But it’s not enough to set goals. There must be very specific objectives to help you reach those goals. In other words, objectives are like the baby steps to help you reach the finish line of your goals.

Also, in an effort to be careful to not become too consumed with work and church, set goals for your family and personal life as well. This will help to ensure balance in all the areas of your life. One way to look at is to set goals for yourself, for your family and for your church.

For the sake of example, I have several goals for the new year. Here are three of them (along with accompanying objectives):

For Myself:

  1. Complete a full Ironman competition.
    1. Register for race, and pay entry fee.
    2. Buy a triathlon bike and get a membership to a gym with a pool.
    3. Follow training plan carefully and focus on core body strength.

For My Family:

  1. Use all the available vacation time allowed for reconnecting and recreation with loved ones.
    1. Systematically include vacations into work calendar.
    2. Set aside (at least) $250 each month to cover vacation expenses.
    3. Plan ahead to ensure that the church is adequately organized for vacation periods.

For My Church:

  1. Help position 5 families on the path to homeownership and 10 families on the path to emotional and relational healing through professional therapeutic care.
    1. Preach at least 4 sermons dealing directly with the value of professional therapeutic care.
    2. Organize an on-site first-time homebuyer’s course or similar program.
    3. Organize active participation in “Hill District 100″ program and similar programs related to Hill District Redevelopment Master Plan.

Hopefully, by sharing some of my own goals for this coming year they help you and your church clarify what it is that you need to accomplish and how you’ll approach them. If you haven’t already written out your goals for 2016, I have developed a goal writing worksheet to help you along this process. CLICK HERE to download it for free.

By God’s grace this can be a fruitful year for you, your family and your church. Let’s pray, work and pursue God’s richest blessings. Happy New Year!