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The social media world is ablaze with these buzz words right now! It seems that every blogger under the sun has a new planner, workbook, checklist, or course right now to help you prepare for the coming year. And that's for good reason.
No one ever achieved anything of value without first sitting down, writing out, and preparing for his or her accomplishments. Goal setting can mean the difference between having dreams and completing them.
Thankfully, many people are now aware of the importance of goal setting and planning. I'm even beginning to hear of people who consider themselves goal-setting junkies! Most of us do some sort of planning at the beginning of each year, and many of us actually see some of our dreams start to bear fruit as a result of our preparation efforts.
I'm all for planning, preparation, and goal setting. In fact, I think it's important not only to set annual goals, but also monthly, weekly, and daily ones as well, with frequent reviews at those same intervals.
But as excited as I am that so many of us are making good use of goal setting, I've also begun to notice that many of us are also skipping one crucial component of goal setting:
We plan to lose weight, drink more water, exercise more frequently, be kinder to our families and coworkers, build businesses, and even give more to church and charity. But when was the last time you set spiritual growth goals?
I haven't always set goals for growing in my walk with the Lord. It's just not something that many of us think to do. There's no way I can know for sure why the vast majority of Christians aren't making deliberate plans to deepen our faith, but these are some concerns that might be at play:
Maybe we don't do it because we know that the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding us.
Maybe we don't place a high enough priority on spiritual growth.
Maybe we're ashamed to admit on paper that we have so little faith.
Maybe we think too highly of our current spiritual state, assuming we don't need to focus on growth.
Maybe we have no idea how to go about setting spiritual growth goals!
Whatever the reason, what I do know is that we need to change. Spiritual growth goals should be at the very top of our planning lists as we approach the new year, new month, new week, or new day. In Hebrews 12:1-2, we're commanded to throw aside anything that entangles us and to run with endurance. We can only do these things with deliberate goal setting and purposeful planning.
But how does one set goals for spiritual growth?
I would recommend three things:
Set aside time to pray.
You probably know by now that prayer is my number one go-to recommendation for everything, so yes, it's going at the top of my spiritual-goal-setting list! Pray and ask the Lord to direct your spiritual growth this coming year. Ask Him for wisdom to know which areas are your strengths and weaknesses and to show you which areas He wants you to build up your spiritual muscles.
I recommend keeping a sheet of paper nearby as you do your praying and preparing. Jot down your thoughts and ideas. This way, you won't forget them later on, and this will also help you to notice patterns. Are you constantly thinking of a specific area in your life? If so, this may be the Lord's prompting to work on that area.
Seek the counsel of God through His Word.
Study to know the Scriptures well. As you read, the Holy Spirit can prick your heart. Be sensitive to the verses that seem particularly convicting. If the Lord is asking you to work on an area, be willing to follow His leading. Again, write them down so that you're not quick to forget.
Ask other believers who know you well to give you advice.
Do you have a Godly spouse, mentor, or parent who knows you well? If so, ask for his or her input. Are there areas of strengths and weaknesses in your spiritual walk that this person would be willing to point out? Often, our abilities and shortcomings are obvious to others even when they might be hidden from us. Be willing to accept what this person has to say, even if it hurts or doesn't seem correct to you. Then, pray over what he or she shares and ask the Lord whether or not He wants you to take a deeper look at these areas.
May I challenge you to undertake spiritual growth goal setting this year? I know it won't be easy or popular, but I do believe that it is Biblical and necessary for your faith to increase. I'll be joining you in this challenge!
If you're ready to go into this new year with deliberate plans for spiritual growth but still feel as though you need more help, I would love to recommend Arabah Joy's Grace Goals. Arabah Joy is a fantastic Christian blogger who has really encouraged me in my writing. She's put together an amazing, Biblical resource to help you set the goals that God wants you to set all while keeping grace in mind. Even better is that this resource is reasonably priced (that said, I completely understand if that doesn't fit into your budget right now). If you think this might be a good fit for you, just click here to learn more.
If this opportunity isn't for you, no worries. You don't need anything more than a prayerful heart and your Bible in order to set spiritual goals for this next year.
Are you feeling brave? I'd welcome you to share one of your spiritual goals in the comments! Here's to a faith-filled new year!