Is it okay to set goals as a Christian? Let me ask you this in response: When God was creating the world, did it seem like he was confused about what he wanted to accomplish on each day? Is there a traceable sequence of events that we can clearly see? When God created the world, was it bringing more chaos or more order?
As I answer all these questions for myself, I am very clear that God is quite fine with us setting goals for ourselves as Christians.
Here’s how to be sure.
What does God say about setting goals?
Proverbs 29:18 is one of the most popular verses used in goal-setting for Christians:
Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
This is also a very misunderstood Bible verse and is therefore often taken out of context.
The original translation of the word vision has nothing to do with personal dreams and aspirations. It actually refers to divine communication from God like a prophecy.
In Bible times, people depended on the prophets to know exactly what God wanted them to do. Think of Elisha, Jeremiah, Joel and the rest. These were all prophets who told God’s will and foretold the future as it was revealed to them in literal visions and dreams.
The word perish in the context of this verse means to show lack of restraint. So then, Without these revelations from God, the people had no guidance for living their lives. People did whatever seemed right to them. Every man designed his own rules for his life. One translation says they run wild.
This just sounds like confusion to me.
But when the prophets spoke what God gave them to speak, those words became the law which guided the lives of the people. Those who chose to obey these divine revelations from God himself, lived happier, blessed lives.
How do Christians set spiritual goals?
Well, the most present revelation from God that we have is the Bible. We can see how wild the world has gone by departing from it. As you set your goals, rely on the Word for directions.
To set spiritual goals you can look for biblical examples. One way of doing that is by studying the lives of Bible characters who set goals. Or, just engage in Bible study in general. Choose a Bible study method that works for you and use it.
While there is no identifiable checklist like the Ten Commandments for goal-setting like, the Bible has a whole lot of truths you can use to guide you. Study Bible verses that contain life principles. This post is all about how to use Scripture to drive the creation of your faith-based goals.
Along with Scripture, God continues to reveal himself in other ways today. He still uses visions and dreams. He also gives a spirit of discernment to those who ask for it. Then there is the wisdom He gives to those who pray for it.
God reveals His will through your passions and desires as well. Don’t ignore the burdens that God puts on your heart.
Biblical goal setting principles
God isn’t in the business of accidental living. This is why He chooses to reveal things to us. The information He gives is intended to help us live on purpose through Christian life goals. All of it is designed to help you grow in faith and build our relationship with God.
Let’s get into Bible-based ideas for setting your goals.
Biblical principles for setting goals
#1 Set your goals based on the teachings and commandments of Jesus
Matthew 22:37-40 Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus’s desire was, and still is, for us to demonstrate love for God, ourselves and others. Any goal you set to honor God must advance these purposes. It is not enough to live for yourself. One major aspect of the Christian life is to help others to learn about who God is and to develop a relationship with Him for themselves. Consider how you can weave that into everyday life. To accomplish this, you can set service goals. Relationship goals can easily fulfill this principle too.
#2 Your choices today matter for eternity.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
John 6:27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.
More often than not yearly goals are about making life on earth more comfortable. There is nothing wrong with that. However, life here is temporary. Through your goals, seek to develop a heavenly character. Because the ultimate goal of our Christian walk is to be saved in the Kingdom when Jesus comes back. Put God first in your goal-setting by setting spiritual goals. All the earthly things will come as amazing bonuses.
#3 Use wisdom, not just knowledge
Proverbs 13:16 All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
Knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing. Knowledge is information. Wisdom is using that knowledge in a way that can improve your life. When you set goals, do so with both wisdom and knowledge. Do research. Do self-reflection. Seek God. Journal your findings and thoughts. Even in faith there is a little bit of reason. Honor that. Pray for wisdom. Scripture says it’s one thing God will not hold back from you. He’ll give it liberally. Ask King Solomon what it was like to live by the wisdom God poured out on his life.
#4 Consider God’s will for day to day living
James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Each goal you set impacts the tasks you choose to do on a daily basis. No matter how small or simple, God wants you to consider Him. Don’t take it for granted that because it’s on your vision board or on your list of things to do then God is fine with it. Not so. When you are a submitted child of God. Always make space for God’s will in the major and the minor of your goal-setting.
#5 Remain open to God’s leading
Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
If you have committed your life to God, you have asked him to sit in the driver’s seat. This means that His plans for your life will always supercede your plans. As you set goals, remain open to God leading you away from the targets you set. He will never make a decision for you that you would not make for yourself if you had all the information He has.
#6 There is no goal too big for God
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
There is no goal too massive for God to handle. Write your goals from a place of abundance and confidence because you have the support from the creator of the universe. What more could you possibly need? Beat fear by stepping out in faith.
#7 Your goals are more about God than you
Colossians 3:23* 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Your goals as a Christian should be about bringing positive attention to God. As much as it might not be obvious, there is nothing that you want to accomplish that isn’t connected to your relationship with God in some way. Let’s say you have a weight loss goal. What is the motivation? Is it to be healthier so you can fulfill your purpose or is it to keep up or compete with another woman or a social media personality?
The thing about trying to keep up with others is the disappointment that can come with feeling like you aren’t quite measuring up. It’s good to have mentors and role-models but don’t forget that your ultimate goal is to inspire others to trust God. Really reflect on your motive for the goals you set. Are they God-centered?
#8 Be ambitious with your God-centered goals
1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
There is definitely such a thing as the prosperity Gospel. I don’t subscribe to it. But what I do believe is that Christians should be ambitious and have big dreams, desires and goals. Don’t be fearful of believing God for massive things. As long as it brings him glory and makes a contribution to the lives of others, your request will be granted. Big plans don’t challenge God. But they will challenge and change the level of your faith.
#9 Truly godly goals should transform you
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
It’s not always easy to discern God’s will. Goal-setting can be tricky in these cases. Be sure your goals are bringing true transformation into your life. The kind that is making you reflect God more instead of the world. The kind that makes the fruits of the Spirit evident in you. The closer you become to God, the more your spiritual eyes will be opened and the more you will be able to discern or figure out God’s will.
#10 Use positive language for Christian goal-setting
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Principle 101 of goal-setting is to use positive language. Your goals are going to emerge from all the things you haven’t been doing right and all the things that need changing. It’s good that you recognize that. But when you sit down to write out your goals, avoid using words and phrases like: I need to stop, I am going to try, Although it’s going to be hard, I want to give up…. I would like to. Instead use positive statements like I will.
A goal with negative language might sound like: I will try to stop eating so much processed foods because it is making me feel weak and confused. A positive way of refraining that is: I will increase my daily consumption of fruits and vegetables so that I can have more energy and a clearer mind. Positively worded goals speak to your brain more effectively so that you can actually feel motivated to work towards your goals and experience success. While you’re at it, don’t forget to highlight what has gone well and celebrate your wins. These are powerful practices.
Biblical principles for achieving goals
#11 Give your plans to God and watch him work them out
Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
Anything done by God is well done. The word establish here means to direct, to set up, to make stable, to secure. As a rule, always pray over your plans and submit them to God. If you want results that you will be satisfied with, this is the way to go. Personally, I always go into a season of fasting and prayer for major life changing goals.
#12 No matter what your goals, chase contentment
Phillipians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
When the apostle Paul wrote this he was really talking about learning to be content. As you think about where you want your life to go, remember that godliness with content is great gain. Learning to be satisfied at each stage or season of life will make it easy for you to have a heart of gratitude as you enjoy the journey of setting goals and achieving them. Sometimes in chasing goals, you can become too consumed by it. Life can pass you by very easily. Always keep the big picture in view.
#13 Set goals AND do the work
Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
So often Christians express desires and dreams. Then it stops there. If your plans are going to get out of your head or heart and become something tangible, you need to be decisive about exactly what you want then go after it. God will not do for you what you can do for yourself. You have to do the work to make it happen.
#14 Be sure the goal is attainable before starting
Luke 14:28-30 Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.
I have a thing about finishing things. Few things annoy me like an unfinished project. Before you get on with putting your plans into action, be sure you know all the resources you will need to do it. Otherwise, you run the risk of ending up with an embarrassing situation. Then you will feel like a failure. Instead, set yourself up for success by counting the cost. Do your research. It’s never too late to back out if you never started. And there is no shame in stepping away from a goal if the timing just isn’t right based on your resources. Life is too short to waste time on goals that will not build you up for the kingdom.
#15 Even Christian goals are not achieved in isolation
Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
Most of your goals will not materialize without the participation of others. You need people who are like-minded and like-hearted. People with whom you can share ideas and get really sound advice. This is even more important if you have plans that are massive and have many moving parts. Talk with multiple people. Get various perspectives and differing ideas. You can get meaningful and valuable feedback by just being open about where you would like to go with your goals. Just make sure the people you ask are appropriate. If you want to start a business it wouldn’t make sense to talk with a friend who has expressed that they have no desire to start a business nor have any interest in acquiring the skills to do so.
#16 Achieving goals requires perseverance
Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Setting a goal is one thing. Achieving it is a whole other thing. You need strong mental and emotional fortitude to push through to the end. Paul talks about this. He suggests forgetting about past mistakes and failures so that you focus all your energy on what is ahead. Any goal to deepen your relationship with God and others deserves your full attention. Even when you become discouraged, keep the end in mind and keep moving forward.
#17 Remember to trust God
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Setting goals is all about making good decisions that can change the trajectory of your life. The problem is that when it comes to your future, you can see no further than your nose. And that’s why trusting God is the surest way of securing your future. If you struggle with this, start learning to trust God with a faith goal. It will help not to take matters into your own hands when things get rough with achieving your goals.
#18 Include the faith factor
Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
Faith is one of the most powerful factors in moving the needle on your Christian goals. Before, during, and after setting them, you should be praying earnestly. That’s just the first part though. Your next step following prayer is to believe. While you’re talking to God, you should also be living in expectancy of receiving what you have prayed for.
#19 Remain open to change
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
As a Christian you know that God’s ways are certainly not ours. As you plan, be prepared to let go. Stay tuned in to God’s voice and leading. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what God is saying the first time around. Or you could be so taken up with your own plans the first time that you ignore the prompting of God. Quite often God will close all the doors that do not align with His purpose for you. You will need to be paying attention to see the direction He is nudging you towards.
#20 God is always watching out for you
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
As I’ve said before in this post, things don’t always work out the way your goals were envisioned. But know this: If you love God and have a calling on your life, he will work everything out for your benefit. So don’t freak out if things aren’t going according to plan. Commit to the outcome, not the process. Believe that God has your back no matter what happens.
How can God help you achieve your goals?
Setting Christian goals is about obedience and stewardship. Without a plan, time is wasted. Life is wasted. Without following God’s lead, there is confusion. There is little benefit there.
It is in God’s best interest to help you reach your goals. Why?
Because you’re called by his name.
How does he actually help though? Let’s look at a few Bible characters who set goals.
He answers your prayers – There are so many Bible characters who had their prayers answered to advance their goals. Jabez is one of the most popular. Other characters are Hannah (she had a burning desire of becoming a godly mom) and Moses (he had a goal of getting the 2 million children of Israel to the promised land).
He sends you support – Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the Persian king. Jerusalem had been destroyed during a raid. Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the walls. God allowed the king to support this goal. He not only sent letters to solidify this but also provided money and materials to do the project.
He redirects you when you’re going outside of his will – Paul had an active and extensive ministry. His mission field was huge. But there were times when God intercepted his plans and gave him a different goal: Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. (Acts 16:6)
He gives you wisdom and discernment – There is a host of goal-setting principles in the book of Proverbs. King Solomon wrote most of it. When he was going to become king of Israel, he asked for and received wisdom. He needed it if he was going to lead successfully.
He has his own plans for your life which makes goal-setting easy – Jeremiah 29:11 says For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. The prophet Jeremiah delivered this message to the Israelites who were in bondage in Babylon. He told them they were going to be in that situation for 70 years so they should settle down and make a life. With this they knew exactly how to create goals for their lives.
What are some Christian goals?
Goals for Christians can focus on two things:
- Growing faith in God
- Living a God-centered life on earth
Christian goals are more than just spiritual. We are multidimensional beings therefore our goals should cover all the areas of our lives. Whether we pursue them all at once is another story.
I have listed 55 potential goals across 5 life areas for you to consider.
Christian goal setting worksheet
Writing your goals is the best way to start your journey of setting and achieving goals. There are many templates and workbooks available but I have made one specially for you.
Download the Christian goal-setting mini-planner.
Do Goal-setting God’s way
Look at it this way: Without goal-setting, the year will be over and you will be able to point to one area of your life that has improved.
I do not want that for you.
It is truly beneficial to hear from God to get His vision and purpose for your life. He really wants to reveal to you all he has planned for you. I have a feeling the plans are amazing.