The Cambridge dictionary defined “Goal” as aim or purpose for wanting to pursue and achieve something (italics mine). Other meaning of goal could be target, objective or destination. In life, goal is a very crucial concept that every Christian youth must have and define. Why? Because a person without a goal lacks focus. For example, picture a man driving without a pre-determined and pre-defined destination; he may arrive at a particular geographic location but his movement cannot be counted as progress because it is not measured against a pre-determined destination.
Setting goals transcends our academic sphere because as young people we must set goals for every area of our lives in order to measure our successes. So we are approaching this topic from a more holistic perspective, rather than limit it to academics. First, it is interesting to know that God desires we do well in life. Look at what the Bible says in our text to see some of the goals God has set for us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Put it this way; God has goals for us, so must we for ourselves. A life without purpose, aim, objective, target or destination is like a sailor sailing the Atlantic Ocean without a compass for direction. Such a journey could be painfully wasteful to say the least and possibly prove to be disastrous and fatal.
THE PURPOSE OF SETTING GOALS
Jeremiah 29:11; Joshua 1:8
Setting goals for our lives is very important for many reasons. First, let’s consider this topic under the subject of academics. Academic excellence does not come by wishful thinking; it must start with a purpose of heart, aim and objective for excellence. To be the best in your class, you must work towards it by studying hard, praying hard, reviewing your progress and learning from your mistakes.
Unfortunately, not many youths set goals for themselves at the start of the academic year. We all want to do well in our studies, but it is not enough to want to do well. You must define what ‘doing well’ means to you and work towards it. Academic excellence requires a huge amount of purpose, focus, commitment and hard work. God says in Joshua 1:8 that He wants us to have ‘good success’.
As Christian youths, we must aim to be the best in our studies. Start each lecture with a prayer and confess by faith, “I am the best in this class because I am child of God.”
Let’s not limit the setting of goals to our studies. Setting academic goal is just one facet of life and all of life must be planned. Becoming a doctor, lawyer, pastor, engineer or computer scientist must begin with a passion and purpose (goal) for that field. Every Christian youth must have goals for other areas of life such as career, ministry and walk with God, family and life as a whole.
So why set goals? A few pointers are as follows… Setting goals:
1. Gives you a sense of purpose and vision in your studies and all other areas of life.
2. Enables you measure the rate at which you make progress or otherwise. These are known as milestones.
3. Helps you approach a problem with confidence and a positive mindset.
4. Gives you an edge over your peers who have no defined goals in life.
THE PITFALLS AND DANGER OF FAILING TO SET GOALS
Imagine God creating the universe without a clear purpose… Imagine how Jeremiah 29:11 would have read If God wasn’t clear about His plans for us… “For I AM NOT SURE OF the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, PROBABLY thoughts of peace, HOPEFULLY not of evil, to TRY TO give you an expected end.”
Jeremiah 29:11 would be a disaster if it read as above. But thank God that we know His plans for us are certainly of good. So how does that apply to you if you fail to set clear goals for your life? The following are some pitfalls to avoid in the process of setting goals, whether academics, careers or ministry:
1. Avoid setting goals that are neither God-centered nor biblical. 1 Corinthians 10:31, John 3:30. Self-centered goals may bring you a measure of success, but not necessarily good, God-glorifying and lasting success, Joshua 1:8. If you have a goal to make First Class grade, that’s good. But don’t set a goal to achieve your First Class by cheating during the exams. Your objectives must be guided by biblical principles for the glory of God.
2. Avoid all distractions to your dream and goal. Distractions often come through friends at school, family members and personal, selfish ambitions. Be focused on your goal. Dream it! Pursue it!
3. Avoid surrounding yourself with people who have no defined and articulated purpose and goal. Such people can kill your dream, goal and purpose. Remember Amnon and Jonadab in 2 Samuel 13.
The dangers of failing to have a clear set of goals and purpose are colossal and grave.
THE PRACTICAL REWARDS FOR SETTING GOALS
Deuteronomy 28:13; Proverbs 22:29
The rewards of setting and pursuing goals are boundless and many practical examples abound for us to see:
1. Promotion: Joseph was promoted to honour in a foreign land and granted favour to the highest level of authority because he pursued his dream. Genesis 41:39-46.
2. Excellence: Daniel purposed in his heart to serve God and he excelled in learning above others. Daniel 1:8, 17, 19, 20. This was excellence at its peak!
3. Fulfilment: Paul knew his goal in life was to fulfill the ministry God gave him and he pressed on to reach that goal. Philippians 3:14; 2 Tim 4:7.
In our contemporary world today, we are surrounded by many living witnesses who have excelled in academics, ministry, career, etc. Therefore, we are without excuse but must take up the challenge to set goals, pursue them and excel too. A goal-oriented life requires commitment to yield the desired results. But it always pays off at the end with good, great and sweet success. The rewards are endless.
Written by Joseph Iregbu
Joseph is a Youth Coordinator and mentor. He lives and works in London. For further details, please visit www.josephiregbu.com