Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Setting Goals as Christians

                Have you ever wanted something out of life but didn't quite know how to attain it? Perhaps it was to start your own business, or to become a songwriter, author, or missionary. Whatever it was, there was and still is a dream in your heart to be that person. Deep inside you is a desire to become all that God desires you to be. For me, this is something that I have been struggling over for some time now. Besides being a wife, mother, blogger, writer, I am also the owner of a small pet care business. I started taking care of dogs for some friends of mine, and then one day had the idea that I could do it for a living, and from there it has grown into a small pet care company. But inside me there is still
this dream to be a successful author and writer. Deep in me there is a desire to spend my days writing and studying and sharing all that God has given me. This dream of being a writer has never left me. But I also want to be successful in my pet care business. I want to grow the business and make our company the one people call for all their pet care needs.  My loyalties sometimes feel divided.
                This morning I went before the Lord and I laid all this down at His feet. I asked Him to show me what it was that I needed to be doing. Do I focus more on the pet care business right now, or do I focus more on the writing? Because, to be honest, I haven’t been giving much attention to either one of them, but instead I have been filling my time with useless things. As I was praying I was reminded of Daniel. I was reminded of a particular scripture passage that has made me see that both of these things- the business and the writing- are important to God, and I must be determined in the things He has called me to do.
                “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
                Through this single verse I found the motivation I needed to set my heart upon the things that God has called me to focus on. First of all, Daniel “purposed in his heart”. The word “purposed” means to place, set, or direct toward a specific thing or area of life. It means to set the mind and the heart; to place our inner man on a specific path. It refers to setting a goal for your life. Daniel set his heart upon a goal. That goal was to not eat the king’s delicacies or drink his wine. Daniel determined in his heart that this was an area of his life that he was not going to compromise in.
So, what can we learn from Daniel about setting our own goals and living in the will of God for our lives? Most people know the first step in setting a goal is to ask yourself what you want. But as Christians, I think we need to ask ourselves what it is that God is asking us to focus on. You see, I have struggled with the pet care business because I was not sure if that is exactly where God wants me right now. Does He want me focusing some of my time and energy on promoting and building this business? Or, does He want me to just hand it over to my daughter in law and let her run with it? This took prayer and time in His word to determine what exactly it was that He was asking of me. Before we set any goals for our lives, we need to seek the Author of our lives first what it is He desires. Psalm 37:4 tells us this exact same thing. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
                The Lord has shown me through prayer and seeking Him that this pet care business is an area of my life that He wants me to focus on. He reminded me that even Paul was a tent maker. He still had a job and a career. God had Paul working with his hands, to help put food on the table, as well as sharing the Gospel. Can I just say that it is okay to do both? There is nothing wrong with having two purposes in life. God called Paul to be an apostle, but he was also a man who held down a job every day. Sometimes I think we get into our heads that if we do ministry full time, we can’t have a full time job. But I don’t think this is true. I think God has us doing His work everywhere- even in our careers.
                One of my biggest concerns about focusing on the pet care business as well as on my writing is the amount of time it will require from me. But, when we look at Daniel, we see that he had to make certain sacrifices to fulfill the goal he had set for himself. Scripture tells us that he purposed in his heart not to defile himself. He determined that to meet the goal of keeping himself pure before the Lord he would have to forgo any meat or wine that might be offered to him. He determined in his heart to set his feet upon a path and to not deter himself from it- no matter how tempting that juicy steak might have been. He also most likely chose to do this because these things were offered to idols in worship before being consumed. Daniel’s goal was to remain faithful and pure before the Lord, eating and drinking these things would have caused him to defile himself, and therefore not kept him towards his goal.
                For us, the sacrifices we must make to reach our goals can be anything from putting down that extra piece of chocolate cake to sacrificing our downtime. I have a tendency to get complacent when it comes to walking towards the goals God has for me. I get stuck in a rut, so to speak, and eventually it becomes a routine. For instance, one of the areas of my life that cause me to waste time is watching television. After I spend my morning studying and writing, I go and take care of some dogs. After I return from caring for these dogs, I plop my hind end on my recliner and take a nap. Yep, its true- I nap. (Not something I had the luxury of doing until I became an empty-nester though!) Unfortunately this routine leaves wasted opportunities for me to focus on the tasks God has laid before me. Instead of coming home from taking care of my dogs and spending time writing on my next project, I turn on the TV and fall asleep. Instead of coming home and working on advertising, marketing strategies or building our client base, I turn on the TV and take a snooze. This leaves me with no motivation because I wake up feeling disappointed that I wasted away another afternoon.
                Daniel set his heart to focus on the Lord and what He was asking of him. I need to do the same. I can do both. I can be a writer and a pet care business owner. I can write and I can promote my business. I can give to both of them the time and the focus they deserve, because I have a God who tells me I can. The other thing that I noticed in Daniel’s purpose was that he asked someone else to help him in this area. Scripture says that he “requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel asked someone in his immediate reach to hold him accountable to the goal that he was setting for himself.
                As Christians it is imperative that we have accountability partners. Someone who shares our desires to be better Christians and will be there for us to help us stick to the purposes we have set for ourselves. This person needs to be as in love with Jesus as you are. They need to know you, know God and be willing to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. I have a few people in my life that are willing to be this person for me. So today I am going to ask them to come
alongside me and be my accountability partners as I purpose in my heart to be the woman God is calling me to be. I am going to ask them to come alongside me and help me attain the dreams that God has given to me, and the desires He has placed in my heart to be a writer and a successful business owner. Both can be accomplished if I am willing to purpose in my heart to focus on these things the Lord has called me to do. We can be all that God has called us to be, we just have to be willing to purpose our heart, make the necessary sacrifices and be held accountable to God in them.

                I pray today that you find encouragement to follow the dreams and desires God has given you. I pray today that we would purpose in our hearts to focus on the areas of our lives that God is calling us to focus on and to make the sacrifices necessary to reach the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We have all been given a goal and a purpose from God- I pray today that we would recognize it and purpose in our hearts to follow Him to the very end. In Jesus Name, amen and amen.