Goals are Good but they are not God

By Ryan Dawson

Happy New Year!  It’s normal at this time of year for people to make many resolutions and goals for the upcoming year.  Sadly, most of these resolutions don’t make it out of January.  I’m sure if you are a regular at the gym you have noticed a huge influx in the number of people working out, but I wonder how many of these people will still be going strong in March, June, or October of this year.   I’m not suggesting that goals are not helpful and that we shouldn’t take time to establish some milestones thoughtfully and prayerfully for the year.  I like to set goals because they help me focus on the important things, persevere when it gets tough, measure my progress, and grow as a person.  So, I believe goals are good, but they are not God.   Our goals are not to be ultimate in our lives.  Our goals shouldn’t overwhelm us or condemn us when we fail to achieve them, but they should actually help us grow as people and ultimately become more like Jesus.  

It’s quite likely that the most common goal for people at this time of year involves health and fitness.  Again, I applaud development in these areas, and I have some health and fitness goals as well, but I wonder how many of us have goals in terms of our character, deepening our friendship with Jesus, and growing in Christ-likeness?  Shouldn’t this really be our focus as we prepare and plan for a new year?  

The apostle Paul was a man who set goals and worked hard to achieve them (you don’t plant that many churches without setting some goals), but his highest goal was to know Jesus and to be more like Him.  He writes in Philippians 3:10-14:
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Paul’s driving passion was to know Jesus, to become like him in every way, and to be faithful to the call on his life.  I’m challenged by this passage, and I suspect you are as well.  Do you share this same passion with Paul?  Is this pursuit reflected in your goals for 2024?  I encourage you to set some goals for 2024, but make sure you are working towards the highest goal and that is to know Christ and to become more like Him.   Spending time in God's Word each day, prioritizing Sunday Worship, and engaging in Gospel Community will go a long way to helping you know Christ better and become more like Him.   I can't encourage you enough to ensure these rhythms are part of your life as we head into the new year, as it will make all the difference.  

As we focus on this highest goal of knowing Christ, let’s trust that God will continue the work that He has started in each of us, and let’s believe that He will carry it on to completion until the day when Christ returns.  

Happy New Year!  Blessings, Ryan