I am an advocate of setting goals before the beginning of a new year. Philippians 3:13 encourages us to be constantly “reaching forth unto those things which are before.” In my experience, setting goals is crucial to this forward achievement.
Yet, we all know (by disappointing experience) that simply setting goals isn’t enough. If we are to see our goals realized, we must be guided by principle. I have found the following five principles to be crucial to success:
1. Principle of dependence upon God
It’s easy to coast into auto-pilot mode and forget our need for God’s anointing in all that we do (1 John 2:27). Even as Jesus admonished His disciples to bear fruit for Him, He reminded them, “without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Spending time at the start of the day in prayer and God’s Word to seek His face and His anointing is baseline to walking in dependence upon Him all day long. Don’t leave your home without spending time with the Lord. And don’t try to accomplish the goals God has laid upon your heart in your own strength.
2. Principle of administration
Organizing the information and projects we already have frees us to focus on accomplishing the goals God has given us. If you have let your to do list pile up, your finances get out of hand, your file system grow outdated…your production will be thwarted.
If you struggle with organization, you may need to read a book (I recommend Getting Things Done by David Allen for starters) or ask an organized person to help you set up a system. Whatever it takes, do it. Organization is essential to forward progress.
3. Principle of production
Nobody wants to waste his life. But we have all wasted portions of ours when we simply go through motions without concentrating on actual production. It’s too easy to be busy, but not productive or fruitful. Guard against time wasters, and invest your time in what really matters.
Not only do I want to be productive in office work and pastoral care, but I daily ask the Lord to help me be productive in soulwinning. This requires being faithful to go out soulwinning, and keeping an updated list of current prospects whom I call, visit, or write regularly. The greatest production of our lives is spiritual fruit to the glory of God (John 15:8).
4. Principle of assessment
I’ve learned that effective administration and production best take place in my life when I step back periodically to assess my progress. I assess some areas daily, and others weekly or monthly.
Set regular periods when you take some time to ask yourself, “How am I doing in ______?” Use these times to focus on growing in your walk with the Lord, your relationships, your ministry…every area of your life. Sometimes it is helpful to ask others (including your spouse) to point out how and where you can improve. Regular assessments give you an informed fresh start and direct your efforts to greater production.
5. Principle of focus
We live in a culture of noise and distractions. We must be intentional about growth if it is to take place. Writing your specific goals down and setting time activated deadlines both help to maintain focus. In fact, all of the principles above work toward focusing your attention on the specific goals God has given to you.
We serve a God who is worthy of every resource we have. Let’s focus on practicing these principles that will help us give our all to Him!