Enjoying the Growing: Addressing a Problem with Setting Goals
This is a guest post by Loren Pinilis. Loren blogs on time stewardship at Life of a Steward.
One of the foundations of effectiveness is goals: setting them, reviewing them, and acting on them. This is Productivity 101.
But there’s a common problem with goals. They keep us so focused on our desired outcomes that the present passes us by. We move from milestone to milestone, waking up one day to realize that our lives have been joyless pursuits of what’s always over the horizon.
To be sure, Christians should live with an eternal perspective. Yet we glorify God by our attitudes in the present. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” goes the famous John Piper quote. That joy and satisfaction don’t happen when our days are consumed with chasing the carrot on the end of a stick.
How can we combine present satisfaction in God with ambitiously setting goals for our future?
There are a multitude of answers, such as the motivating drive we feel when we truly grasp his grace. But I want to mention one powerful and often overlooked way: finding joy in the act of growing.
God uses the journey for his purposes, not just the destination. This means that we’re not to be satisfied only when our outcomes have been reached. We are to take pleasure in the process of striving for our vision.
To use the popular example of a fitness goal: We don’t just visualize our desired weight loss. We go beyond simply congratulating ourselves when we step on the scale and see how far we’ve come. Instead, we take it a level further and actually enjoy the process of dieting and exercising.
The first-time author can appreciate the frustration felt as they pound out that manuscript. A novice teacher can find joy in the awkward experience of losing a class’s interest. Leaders can rejoice in being challenged as their team struggles to deal with unplanned difficulties.
We may have lofty ambitions to reach radical heights, yet his providence has placed us where we are for a reason. We don’t want our focus on the future to turn into a subtle rebellion or a questioning of God’s wisdom.
The process of working towards our goals can be a tool that God uses to mold us into the image of Christ. We may want to lose weight; he wants to teach us patience. We may want to expand our ministry; he wants to show us our selfish pride.
His loving hands are guiding us – even testing and trying us — this whole time. Even though we’d like to “arrive,” what a joy it is to have the father leading us.
With our sovereign God in control, we can give thanks for — and find joy in — the growing as much as the growth.