By Stephen Altrogge
I’ve read too many books about achieving goals, accomplishing tasks, and being more productive. Some authors say you should shoot for the stars when setting goals. Other authors say you should have low, reasonable expectations. Some say that if you write your goals down, you will unlock the positive energy of the universe, which will then flow through you (I’m not making this stuff up). Others go so far as to recommend writing out your own obituary. All the books have titles like Crushing Your Goals!, Be An Elite Achiever!!, and The Principles for World Domination!!! (these authors really like exclamation points).
And the truth is, these books have helped me to achieve some of my goals. I ran a half-marathon. I’ve written a few books. I exercise regularly. I did pretty decent in college. Hurray for me, sis-boom-bah, big honkin’ whoop. Not really. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I was able to do those things. But I’m beginning to realize that there’s a big difference between simply achieving goals and achieving goals in a manner that pleases God.
It really is possible to achieve almost anything if you put your mind to it and are willing to pour all your energy into achieving your goal. This is how morbidly obese people lose 200 pounds, mailroom employees become corporate executives, and total nerds found companies like Apple and Google. It’s also how people memorize entire books of the Bible, create freakishly awesome youth ministries, and write Christian books.
But there are two ways to achieve a goal. The first way is by relying on your own strength. You will pull yourself up by the bootstraps, kick down all the doors, and suplex anyone who gets in your way. When you accomplish the goal, you get the glory. That is not God’s way of achieving goals. Unfortunately I’ve taken this path far too often.
The second way to achieve your goals is in humble dependence upon God. In Proverbs 16:3 it says:
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Godly goal crushing begins by committing the goal to the Lord. It begins by saying, “Lord, I want to do this for your glory. I realize that I can’t accomplish anything truly good without your divine empowerment. Help me.” Godly goal crushing begins by humbly praying over our goals. It begins by lifting our goals to the Lord and saying, “Lord, I hold this goal loosely. If you want me to achieve this, help me. Otherwise, thwart me.”
- “Lord, help me lose weight for your glory, so that I can be healthy and more effectively serve my family. I want to do this in a manner that pleases you.”
- “Lord help me get good grades for your honor, not mine. You have given me a mind, help me use it to bring you honor.”
- “Lord help me attain this position at work in a way that pleases you. Guard me from selfish ambition. Guard me from the temptation to advance my agenda above your agenda.”
It’s quite possible to achieve good, moral goals without pleasing the Lord one bit. I’ve done this too many times to count. But, if we commit our goals to God, and work at them in humble dependence upon God, he will be honored. If we work in our own strength, we get the glory when we achieve the goal. If we work in God’s strength, he gets the glory. Today, tackle your goals with God’s strength.
Stephen Altrogge serves as pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA. Stephen is author of the books Game Day For the Glory of God: A Guide For Athletes, Fans, and Wanabes and The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence. Stephen blogs at The Blazing Center.