by Pastor Mark Jordan
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30, NRSV)
This week we are looking goal setting to help us with our spiritual resolutions for 2018. Yesterday we considered how we are to dedicate our efforts to God first and see how He blesses our plans. Today, as we consider those plans further, we need to make sure our goals are attainable.
Jesus taught about goal setting in discipleship and referred to it as counting the cost. Counting the cost does start with your end result in mind, but it also challenges you to assess where you are and actively seek ways to get where you want to be. Setting attainable goals is a big part of counting your cost, taking where you are into account, and what is reasonable to get where you want to be. One word of caution here, though: don’t sell yourself short when you concentrate your effort and give it to God! Once you really get rolling, God can (and will!) work miracles in your life! Our whole purpose is connecting people to God and each other to change lives, because changed lives change the world. Setting a goal to get more connected to God and other believers is a great way to kick off 2018!
Let’s take the participation aspect of discipleship as a for-instance. Say you make a goal to attend worship every time it’s offered this year. If you take into account the 52 Sunday, plus the special services like Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, and Christmas Eve, that’s 55 worship celebrations. I mean it would be awesome if that was your goal, but it might not be attainable when you take into account things like illness, work demands, and vacations. So setting a goal for participation needs to take into account your previous patterns. When I first entered the ministry, people who considered themselves active worship attenders went to church about once a month. Per a study by Lifeway in 2017, that number has shifted to attending church once every-other-month. Thinking about attending worship 6 times a year — plus throw in Easter and Christmas Eve for 8 — that gives you an idea how you might be able to set a new goal to not just be “active,” but seriously in following Jesus. Maybe you want to get that number to 14, 20, 24, or whatever works for you, but something to challenge you to rely on God’s power in you, and to grow closer to Him and other Jesus followers.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the wisdom to set goals so I can get where I want to be, and you want me to be, in light of where I am. As I think about setting goals for you, help me to set attainable goals, knowing your miracle-working power is available to me when I believe in you and commit my work to you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.