Friday, March 24, 2017


As you’ve probably noticed, my plan for the first part of the year is to record what I found as I unpacked the events of last fall, mainly for my future reference and reflection but also in the event it may help someone else.  

Before getting too far down that road I wanted to share some thoughts on goal setting, specifically how creating and praying through "God sized goals" as Mark Batterson puts it can be a guiding force in life in growing us in the direction and into the people God created us to be.  As C.S. Lewis puts it in The Weight of Glory
"If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

This (goal setting, not being too easily pleased) is something I started last year after reading the book Wild Goose Chase and goes way beyond New Years resolutions.  It is a process of thinking and praying  your way through both annual goals and life goals to direct both long and short term focus and activity and a way to "Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death." (A Trip Around the Sun)

I highly recommend a read of Wild Goose Chase as the book is a life changer and has much more detail, but this PDF gives a good overview to get you started:

You may ask, why do this?  Aren't resolutions good enough?  For me, no.  I don't have much resolve and they tend to be short sighted, shallow, and not very compelling.  Also, as I've gotten older I've found I can relate more anid more to this statement and this process has helped me combat the effects of age on my imagination: 
"Neuroimaging has shown that as we age, the center of cognitive gravity tends to shift from the imaginative right brain to the logical left brain.  That neurological tendency presents a grave spiritual danger: at some point, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory.  Instead of creating the future, we repeat the past. Instead of living by faith, we live by logic.  But it doesn't have to be that way." (A Trip Around the Sun)

God sized goals are a way of stretching and living by imagination.  "It's not enough to dream big and pray hard.  You also have to think long.  If you don't, you'll experience high degrees of discouragement.  Why? Because we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a year. Of course, we also tend to underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.  The bigger the vision the harder you'll have to pray and the longer you'll have to think. But if you keep circling it'll come to pass in God's timing." (The Circle Maker)

Start big (life) then narrow in on steps over the year to get you there (image from The One Thing)
There is some sold guidance and examples in the PDF linked above but here are some additional questions to help hone in on God ordained passions to drive goals:
• What makes you sad mad glad?
○ Your true calling is somewhere at the intersection of those things 
• What makes you angry or pound your fist on the table?
• What makes you sad?
• What/who brings joy to your heart?
• What wakes you up early and keep you up late? (Netflix is not a valid answer here)
• What am I doing that I could not do apart from God?  (If the answer is nothing, pray that God would open your eyes!)

In the Bible there is the example of Nehemiah weeping for days over Jerusalem--if you feel this way about something it's a good indication God wants you to take personal responsibility to do something about it.  If you need some inspiration I would also highly recommend David Platt's Counter Culture.

Also, write them down.  As Lee Iacocca said "The discipline of writing something down is the first step towards making it happen."  Writing your goals down also allows you to share with friends who can hold you accountable as well as your spouse so that the two of you can dream and plan together!

So what's it going to take to stop living like God is an insurance plan?  What changes can you make, whether big or small, can shift your life and focus in the direction you were designed to go?  "Something as simple as a change of pace can give you a new perspective on life." (Wild Goose Chase)

Think big, pray hard and then jump in with both feet.  As John Ortberg says in If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat "When I say yes, I set in motion an adventure that will leave me forever changed."

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