Successful Goal Setting is a process, not a one-time event. Growing Spiritually is too. In fact, it’s a lifetime event. Success in both is directly related to your commitment, willingness to work, and internal investment or, to use a fancy term, intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within the individual because it is naturally satisfying to you. I describe this simply as an internal investment.
What is ‘internal investment?’ For me, it is my ‘why.’ Why do I want to do this thing? At the end of 2019, I began praying about my Guiding Word for 2020. Then, I began praying about goals for my ministry, Women Ministering. But, instead of just sitting down and cranking out goals, I knew I needed to do this differently than I had in years past.
I had purchased a planner – 2020 Powersheets Intentional Goal Planner. This is what introduced me to the idea of finding your why. I describe it this way – what makes you come alive when you think about doing it? That’s what I asked myself.
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My overarching goal is to help women succeed in ministry and life. However, that is too big. The phrase came to mind as I was pondering this was ‘inspired to flourish.’ I knew it was God because I don’t use the word flourish in everyday life! That made me come alive. I had found my why. I already knew ‘what.’ What is usually pretty obvious.
Find Your ‘Why’
For instance, in spiritual matters we all know 2 things we need to do more of – pray and read the Bible. That’s the ‘what.’ However, what is not very inspiring and is so vague that there’s no way to know whether you are making any progress or not.
What is task-oriented. Why is internally oriented. It is something that spurs you to make an internal commitment or a heartfelt desire. Whatever you may call it – find your why – your internal investment.
2 Peter 3:18 TPT, “But continue to grow and increase in God’s grace and intimacy with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May he receive all the glory both now and until the day eternity begins. Amen!”
Find Your ‘What’
Encouragement to Flourish is my big goal. When you plan a trip, you start with the end – where you want to go – the big goal. Then, you work backwards. You set dates, figure out how to get there, where you want to stay, count the cost, etc.
You do the same thing with setting goals. I had to start adding the ‘what’ aspect of goal setting – what will I need to do to achieve that big goal? Start setting smaller goals. Break the process down with the ‘why’ always in mind.
We should all have the goal of growing spiritually. Why? It can be any number of reasons. Maybe you have strayed and are coming back again, needing to grow and mature. Perhaps, you have just felt as dry as the desert and are in need of refreshment. Or, you have a deep desire to be more and more like Jesus.
Let’s take that last one – to be more like Jesus. That’s a little more specific but still an awfully big goal. How? Do you want more of the fruit of the Spirit? That would be a great smaller goal to help you achieve the bigger one.
Now you have your ‘why‘ – to be more like Jesus. You have your what – more of the fruit of the Spirit. You now have nine specific areas of growth that overlap somewhat but are all necessary. Next comes the specifics of ‘what.’
Make Your ‘What’ Specific
What will you do to grow in the 9 fruit of the Holy Spirit? Are you going to establish a Bible Study routine? There are 9 fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness. faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Maybe there are only 4 of those you know you really need to work on right away. Start with those four.
Galatians 5:22-23 The Voice, “The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this.” Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.
Let’s pretend that the four are patience, gentleness, joy, and self-control. You could take one per month. The first month, you do a Bible Study on patience, and for the following 3 months, you do the others. How will you measure your success?
Measuring Spiritual Progress
That’s the tough part of spiritual goals – measuring progress. The first thing you are NOT going to do is to measure progress by comparing yourself to anyone. If you do compare, you might as well stop right now because that’s a sure recipe for failure. There will always be someone who seems to be better at patience than you are. Don’t use comparison.
Instead, find a couple of specific areas where you lack patience. Maybe your husband leaves things lying around all over the house and doesn’t even seem to notice! You’ve gotten mad, you’ve dropped hints and he just doesn’t seem to get the point. This means that the one who has to change is you! You want to be more patient because he’s a wonderful husband and your impatience is affecting your relationship.
Measuring Successful Goal Setting
How will you measure your success? Simple – you are less frustrated when he leaves stuff all over the kitchen counter. You remember what a loving man he is and you just smile and pick the stuff up while giving thanks for having him in your life! That’s progress and that’s one fruit down with 3 to go!
Colossians 2:6-7 TPT, “In the same way you received Jesus our Lord and Messiah by faith, continue your journey of faith, progressing further into your union with him! Your spiritual roots go deeply into his life as you are continually infused with strength, encouraged in every way. For you are established in the faith you have absorbed and enriched by your devotion to him!
Small Steps Toward Success
I think you see where I’m going with this. In your goals, set yourself up for success by not reaching for perfection in one month. We all get frustrated and lose patience. Find the specific areas you lack patience in and create some small steps for progress:
Find some books or Bible studies. Write out some Scripture to remind you when you feel your blood pressure rising. Find an accountability partner. Write down something like – stop being critical of my husband.
- Find some books or Bible studies.
- Write out some Scripture to remind you when you feel your blood pressure rising.
- Find an accountability partner.
- Set your Bible reading around the subject and journal as you read.
- In your prayer time, use the Scriptures you wrote out as personalized prayers.
Repeat the process for each one of the Fruit of the Spirit. You might need to spend more than one month on a particular area. There is no race to get this done. It’s not a competition with anyone. It’s just you and Jesus working together and He is happy about every little step you take. In fact, He is overjoyed that you want to be like Him and will help you in every way.
Ephesians 4:13-16 TPT, “These grace ministries will function until we all attain oneness in the faith, until we all experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God, and finally we become one perfect man with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed in the abundance of Christ.
And then our immaturity will end! And we will not be easily shaken by trouble, nor led astray by novel teachings or by the false doctrines of deceivers who teach clever lies. But instead, we will remain strong and always sincere in our love as we express the truth. All our direction and ministries will flow from Christ and lead us deeper into him, the anointed Head of his body, the church.
For his “body” has been formed in his image and is closely joined together and constantly connected as one. And every member has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love.
Success is Not Measured by Perfection
Perfection is not your goal. It shouldn’t be anyone’s goal. Wait – you say – we should always be striving toward perfection. No, we shouldn’t. We should be conforming ourselves to the image of Jesus and that does not require us to be perfect.
There is only One who was or is perfect. The rest of us are working on it. God isn’t at all discouraged by our failures and imperfections. When we fall, He only gets concerned if we just lay there and don’t try to get up.
He sees our heart – our ‘why.’ And, He knows that what we want is the same as what He wants. We are fully pleasing to Him. He loves us like we are but wants us to grow and be more and more like His Son! We are the same way with our own children. We love them just like they are but we want more for them than to act like a 4-year-old when they are 18!
At the same time, we understand the ups and downs of moving from childhood to adulthood and we patiently walk alongside them loving them all the way. We don’t expect perfection – just effort.
Psalm 147:11 The Voice, “But the Eternal does take pleasure in those who worship Him, those who invest hope in His unfailing love.
Set Spiritual Goals and Make a Plan to Achieve Them
As we set spiritual goals and make our plan to achieve them, we submit them to God. One thing we can be assured of, if we are setting goals in line with His Word, He’s happy. Wanting more of the Fruit of the Spirit is definitely a worthy and biblical goal as is wanting to be more like Jesus.
Let your ‘why’ be your continual internal motivation. Your why can be as simple, and profound, as – I want to please God in all my attitudes. That’s something He and you can get behind and work on together.
I want to leave you with a long passage of Scripture in which Paul beautifully shows us his own journey toward Jesus’ likeness. Paul too had a goal and steps he was taking toward it. He was not upset that he had not yet achieved, because he knew of God’s grace, favor, and mercy. Instead, he never gave up and neither should we.
We should set Spiritual goals and aspire to “reach the purpose Jesus Christ has called us to fulfill and wants us to discover.” In this way, success will be ours just as was it was for Paul.
Philippians 3:9-16 TPT, “My passion is to be consumed with him and not clinging to my own “righteousness” based in keeping the written Law. My “righteousness” will be his, based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—the very righteousness that comes from God. And I continually long to know the wonders of Jesus more fully and to experience the overflowing power of his resurrection working in me. I will be one with him in his sufferings and I will be one with him in his death. Only then will I be able to experience complete oneness with him in his resurrection from the realm of death.
I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however, I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus.
So let all who are fully mature have this same passion, and if anyone is not yet gripped by these desires, God will reveal it to them. And let us all advance together to reach this victory-prize, following one path with one passion.”
**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
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