Time Out: Setting goals for life and ministry that are worth achieving

Topic / Time Out

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful and costly tombs ever built, but there is something fascinating about its beginnings. In 1629, when the favorite wife of Indian ruler Shah Jahan died, he ordered that a magnificent tomb be built as a memorial to her. The shah placed his wife’s casket in the middle of a parcel of land, and construction of the temple literally began around it. But several years into the venture, the Shah’s grief for his wife gave way to a passion for the project. One day while he was surveying the sight, he reportedly stumbled over a wooden box, and he had some workers throw it out. It was months before he realized that his wife’s casket had been destroyed.

The original purpose for the memorial became lost in the details of construction. This legend may or may not be true, bit its theme is a familiar one in the lives of people. How many of us set out to build dream castles but lose our focus along the way? We realize too late that it is loved ones and our children that really matter.

Another classic example of misplaced values occurred in the life of J. Paul Getty, one of the richest men of this century. He wrote: “I’ve never been given to envy, save for the envy I feel toward those people who have the ability to make a marriage work and endure happily. It’s an art I’ve never been able to master.” While we’re building our Taj Mahals, let’s not forget the purpose with which we began building.

How can we set correct goals? Godly goals come from God, therefore we must spend time with Him. It’s only His goals that will ultimately succeed (Proverbs 19:21). God’s goals for us are beyond our human ability and necessitate us relying on His strength alone.

Write your goals down in words on paper. That way you can state precisely what you feel God wants you to accomplish with your life. Don’t use fuzzy generalities such as “be more spiritual,” “be a better husband/wife,” or “read the Bible more.” To be more spiritual or a better husband is not a goal but a statement of purpose. A goal would be to spend 15 minutes in prayer and Bible reading the first thing every morning. A goal would be to take my wife on a date every week and initiate a conversation about how I can better serve her.

To be a good goal remember that it must be measurable. It must have a time factor and description of what is expected in that time. “Travel to the Caribbean for our 20th anniversary” and “become a Christian school science teacher within the next 7 years” are measurable and attainable goals. Then intermediate steps to get from where you are to the goal can be set.

These intermediate steps are goals, too – lesser goals along the way to help us achieve our main goal. To travel the Caribbean as a long-term goal would mean having short term goals of saving so much money each month. It would be gathering information about cruise lins and making a decision about which one to use one year before the sailing date (by your 19th anniversary). It would mean having passports by a certain date, etc.

While goal-setting is important, just having words written on paper does no good. The story of David and Goliath in I Samuel 17 is a good example. David had a clear picture of his goal – to kill Goliath. His goal wasn’t to win the king’s daughter in marriage, to make a name for himself or to impress others. David had a clear motive for this goal – to glorify God. He did it because of God’s testimony and reputation. He had a consuming desire to reach this goal and not even the criticism by his brothers or the doubts of King Saul could keep him from it.

Despite how impossible it seemed humanly speaking, David had the utmost confidence that, with God’s help, he would achieve his God-given goal (I Samuel 17:37, 45-47). After, if this is what God wanted him to do, and God would be with him, how could he fail?

David didn’t just sit around, though. He worked to bring about the achievement of his goal. He developed a course of action. He wouldn’t use the kings armor but would use a sling instead. His long-range goal was to kill Goliath, but he had short range goals: collecting rocks, practicing with his sling, being ready as if each day was the battle.

It was important for David to keep his eyes on his goal and not be drawn away by others who would sow doubts in his mind, discourage him, or interfere (as his brothers tried to do). He didn’t let fear, anger, pride, discouragement or doubt sidetrack him. We, too, must keep our eyes focused on God’s goal for us (Proverbs 4:25-27). Paul did this (2 Corinthians 11:22-28). Now you wok on your goals, using the chart on the following page. Pray first, then get to work!

Write down your life-time goals then set some intermediate goals and even daily goals to help you meet. Remember, be specific. Your goal must be measurable and attainable.

Jerry SchmoyerJerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 15 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on April 5, 2010

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