2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. (1 John 3: 2a)
Successful athletes and coaches know the importance of planning when it comes to sports success. Just “winging it” might have worked when you were a kid, but when you rise through the ranks and meet up with the other “elite” athletes in your sport, you need to have an elite plan. When it comes to goal setting, whether in athletics or other areas, a common acronym used is SMART. To be successful in our goal setting we should set Specific goals (i.e. they can’t be vague). They should be Measurable goals (i.e. include precise measurements, dates etc.). It is critical that they are Attainable goals (i.e. they need to be challenging, but still feasible). They need to be Relevant goals (i.e. they should be in keeping with the direction you want to take with your life). And finally, they should be Time sensitive (i.e. your goals must have a timeline, not just: “I’ll do it at some time in the future”).
If you want to be a successful athlete in the long-term, it would be very wise for you to have SMART goals in place. In fact, in our place of business as a management team, each of us has SMART goals that we are accountable for each quarter, and every employee in our company likewise is involved in setting SMART goals for themselves. This diligent practice has produced a lot of positive results in our company, and I have likewise seen SMART goal setting work incredibly well for athletes. But how about in our spiritual life? Should we be implementing the same rigor?
I think there is great value in doing something similar in our spiritual walk. Perhaps in your personal spiritual life God has impressed it on you to memorize scripture or read through the Bible in a year. Either of these could be a SMART goal. I have been involved in a number of churches that could have benefited greatly from administrative rigor, and SMART goal setting would have been an excellent start. For some reason they felt that such administration would detract from being in tune with Christ (operating “organically”), but ironically I have found that many administrative churches actually have more time available to react to the needs around them because the day to day operations are flowing smoothly and with excellence.
Having said the above, I think it is important to be cautious when it comes to goal setting in our spiritual walk. I believe we need to set goals with flexibility in mind. By definition, if we are true disciples of Christ, there is uncertainty in our life. There are things that God has asked me to do, and our family to do, that defied “common sense”, but I felt peace that they made “God sense”. As humans we long for certainty, but God calls us to uncertainty that is rooted in him. Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, said: “Certainty is the mark of the common sense life – gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life.”
John wrote: “2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3: 2). Whatever your age, if you are following Christ, you can confidently say: “and what [I] will be has not yet been made known.” If you are willing to walk in “gracious uncertainty”, God will take you on an exciting ride for the rest of your earthly life. Fling yourself into his arms today and say: “do with me as you please Lord!”