Use Spiritual Goals to Glorify Your Creator
“WHEN a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” These words, attributed to a first-century Roman philosopher, point to the truism that for life to have direction, goals are essential.
The Bible provides examples of individuals who were goal oriented. Working some 50 years, Noah “constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” The prophet Moses “looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” (Hebrews 11:7, 26) Moses’ successor, Joshua, received the God-given objective of conquering the land of Canaan.—Deuteronomy 3:21, 22, 28; Joshua 12:7-24.
In the first century C.E., the apostle Paul’s spiritual goals were no doubt greatly influenced by Jesus’ words that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth.” (Matthew 24:14) Spurred on by personal messages and visions from the Lord Jesus, including the assignment to “bear [Jesus’] name to the nations,” Paul became instrumental in establishing a chain of Christian congregations across Asia Minor and on into Europe.—Acts 9:15; Colossians 1:23.
Yes, Jehovah’s servants down through the ages have set lofty goals and have met them, to God’s glory. How may we today set spiritual goals? What goals can we strive for, and what practical steps can we take to reach them?
Right Motives Are Essential
Goals may be set in just about any area of life, and this world has its share of goal-oriented people. Theocratic goals, however, are not the same as worldly ambitions. The primary motives behind many goals in the world are an obsessive desire for wealth and an insatiable hunger for position and power. What a mistake it would be to pursue a goal to gain power and prominence! Goals that bring glory to Jehovah God are directly connected with our worship of him and with Kingdom interests. (Matthew 6:33) Such goals stem from love for God and fellowman and have godly devotion as their aim.—Matthew 22:37-39; 1 Timothy 4:7.
May our motives be pure as we set and pursue spiritual goals, be they for increased service privileges or for making personal spiritual advancement. Yet, even rightly motivated goals are at times not realized. How can we set goals and increase the likelihood of reaching them?
Strong Desire a Must
Consider how Jehovah accomplished the creation of the universe. With the words “there came to be evening and there came to be morning,” Jehovah marked off the successive periods of creation. (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31) At the beginning of each creative time period, he well knew his goal, or objective, for that day. And God carried out his purpose to create things. (Revelation 4:11) “[Jehovah’s] own soul has a desire, and he will do it,” said the patriarch Job. (Job 23:13) How satisfying it must have been for Jehovah to see “everything he had made” and declare it “very good”!—Genesis 1:31.
For our goals to become a reality, we too must have a strong desire to achieve them. What will help us develop such an intense desire? Even while the earth was formless and waste, Jehovah could foresee the end result—a beautiful jewel in space, bringing him glory and honor. Similarly, our desire to accomplish what we set out to do can be cultivated by meditating on the results and benefits of achieving the goal. That was the experience of 19-year-old Tony. He never forgot his first impression of a visit to a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Western Europe. From then on, the question that occupied Tony’s mind was, ‘What would it be like to live and serve in a place like that?’ Tony never stopped thinking about the possibility, and he continued to reach out for it. How happy he was when several years later his application to serve at the branch was approved!
Our association with others who have already reached a certain goal can also create in us a desire to attain it. Jayson, age 30, did not enjoy sharing in the field ministry when he was in his early teens. But after completing his high school education, he eagerly entered pioneer service, thus becoming a full-time Kingdom proclaimer. What helped Jayson cultivate the desire to pioneer? He answers: “Talking to others who have pioneered and working with them in the ministry strongly influenced me.”
Committing Our Goals to Writing Can Help
An abstract idea takes on clarity and form when we choose words to express it. Solomon noted that proper words can be powerful like oxgoads in giving direction in life. (Ecclesiastes 12:11) When those words are written down, they make a deep impression on the mind and heart. Why else would Jehovah command the kings of Israel to make a personal written copy of the Law? (Deuteronomy 17:18) We may therefore wish to commit our goals and the strategy for reaching them to paper, listing the obstacles we expect along with ways to overcome them. It can also be helpful to identify the subjects we must become knowledgeable in, the skills we need to acquire, and the individuals who can help and support us.
Setting spiritual goals for himself had a stabilizing effect on Geoffrey, a longtime special pioneer in an isolated territory in an Asian country. Tragedy struck when his wife died unexpectedly. Following an adjustment period, Geoffrey decided to immerse himself completely in his pioneer ministry by setting goals. After writing down his plans on paper, he prayerfully set out to start three new Bible studies by the end of the month. Each day, he reviewed his activity, and every ten days, he checked his progress. Did he reach his goal? With a report of four new Bible studies, he joyfully answers yes!
Set Short-Term Goals as Markers
Some goals may initially appear formidable. To Tony, mentioned earlier, serving at a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses seemed like a dream. That was so because his life-style had been wayward, and he had not even made a dedication to God. But Tony decided to harmonize his life with Jehovah’s ways and made it his goal to qualify for baptism. After achieving that goal, he reached out for auxiliary pioneering and regular pioneering, marking on his calendar the starting dates. After he had pioneered for some time, service at the branch office did not seem like an unrealistic goal.
We too may do well to break down our long-term goals into a few short-term goals. The intermediate goals can serve as reachable markers along the way to attaining a long-term goal. Regularly measuring our progress with respect to such road markers can help us to keep our mind focused. Repeatedly praying to Jehovah about our plans will also help us stay on course. “Pray incessantly,” exhorted the apostle Paul.—1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Determination and Persistence Needed
Despite our having well-laid plans and a strong desire to carry them out, some goals remain unattainable. How disappointed the disciple John Mark must have been when the apostle Paul did not want to take him along on Paul’s second missionary journey! (Acts 15:37-40) Mark had to learn from this disappointment and adjust his goal for increased service. He evidently did. Later on, Mark was favorably mentioned by Paul and enjoyed close association with the apostle Peter in Babylon. (2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 5:13) Perhaps his greatest privilege was that of writing an inspired account of Jesus’ life and ministry.
In our pursuit of spiritual goals, we too may experience setbacks. Rather than giving up, we must review, reevaluate, and readjust. When obstacles arise, we need to stretch forward with determination and persistence. “Roll your works upon Jehovah himself and your plans will be firmly established,” wise King Solomon assures us.—Proverbs 16:3.
Yet, at times circumstances make pursuing certain goals unrealistic. For example, poor health or family obligations may place some goals beyond our reach. May we never lose sight of the fact that the ultimate prize is everlasting life—in heaven or in Paradise on earth. (Luke 23:43; Philippians 3:13, 14) How is this gained? “He that does the will of God remains forever,” wrote the apostle John. (1 John 2:17) While our situation may not allow us to reach a particular goal, we can still “fear the true God and keep his commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Spiritual goals help us stay focused on doing the divine will. Let us therefore use them to glorify our Creator.
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Spiritual Goals to Consider
○ Reading the Bible daily
○ Reading each issue of The Watchtower and Awake!
○ Improving the quality of our prayers
○ Displaying the fruitage of the spirit
○ Reaching out for increased service
○ Becoming more effective in preaching and teaching
○ Developing such skills as telephone, informal, and business witnessing