Devotional: Applying the Bible to my today.
Read: James 4:13-17
By Halee Wood
As a Life Coach, I come alongside those who are ready to take action toward experiencing the life and dreams they deeply desire. This process requires vulnerability…
…just ask anyone whose dreams or plans have been halted or squashed in this difficult season.
…just ask anyone who has desperately dreamed of making changes to a not-so-healthy-habit and failed repeatedly.
…just ask anyone who thought their plan was directly from God, but it didn’t turn out the way they had planned.
While dreaming and planning can build up such expectations with the possibility of coming down hard, we continue to yearn for relationship, to do something of value, serve, create or change. The creativity which God has instilled in us can really kick into high gear when we are crushed or being challenged. Especially as believers who have hope – we live one day at a time, yet we look boldly at the future.
“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trial, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthen our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” (Romans 5:2-5)
Setting goals and planning for the future (as an individual and as The Church) can be a way to successfully steward the gifts God gives us. Looking to the Bible for guidance can provide freedom in dreaming big in healthy, God-honoring ways while also providing perspective and healing to those who are feeling the gut-wrench of goals/livelihood being lost and altered. The list begins and ends with humbly and completely submitting ourselves and the process to God.
Tips for Goal Setting and Planning for the Future:
- Ask God to direct your desires.
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting You. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to You.” (Psalm 143:8)
He can do more than we dream or ask, and His creativity and goodness is far beyond our own capacity.
- Use the current season to prepare for the season ahead.
“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy bones. Learn from their ways and become wise…they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” (Proverbs 6:6,8)
Living one day at a time keeps us from feeling overwhelmed and worried, but look around “today” to see what He is providing for your “tomorrow” so that when “tomorrow” comes you can live without worry in that day as well!
- Get insight from wise people.
“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” (Proverbs 15:22)
Who is your team? If you are considering a business deal, look to both those with experience in your field and to someone who can provide biblical perspective and prayer. If you are considering progressing a relationship toward marriage, seek insight from those who have healthy,God-honoring marriages and with someone who knows you and your potential future spouse. If you’re looking to change a habit or face an addiction – don’t do it alone; find someone who is walking a similar journey (teammate/accountability partner) and someone who is in a similar place you’d like to be (coach/sponsor.) Ask lots of questions, listen with an open heart, and invite others into your journey.
- When you set goals, work with all your heart to achieve them.
“…don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God.” (Colossians 3: 23 – MSG)
Work hard and with wisdom. I recommend setting SMART goals, meaning the goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable (meaning you are capable), Reasonable (with your current resources and time), and Time limited (to either be accomplished by a specific date OR to try something for a certain period of time). For example, if you have committed to improving your marriage, your goal may be “I will improve communication with my spouse from a 3 to a 6 by 6/1/20.” (Make sure to define what a 3 and a 6 look like for you.)
After setting the goal, make a list of action steps toward accomplishing the goal (i.e. I will set up our phones so that we can share calendars, I will read a book about marriage and communication skills, etc.). Don’t forget about prayer and your teammates during this process!
- Time spent with God is not idle time.
“Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10)
Time with God may mean setting aside 15 minutes daily, but God may also call you to an entire season of quiet. Beginning in 2015, I experienced 3.5 years of God asking me to “just be.” It did not seem possible, but I did it. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a toddler to care for and my dad eventually required full-time care, but it was different than all the ideas I had for us during that season. My current season of life and ministry are so much richer because of what He did in my family and me during those years of just “being.”
- Good planning doesn’t necessarily equal your planned outcome.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
One time after speaking/teaching, I went backstage and cried because it just didn’t go well. I had prayed before taking the opportunity to teach, and I had prayed and worked hard regarding all the details, yet it seemed that I had failed. The Holy Spirit whispered something to me in that moment, “By saying the result is not good enough, you’re saying that what I had planned is not enough.” What?!? No…I’m the failure, not Him! But since I had asked Him to work in me – He did, and this was the result. I trusted Him with the process but not the outcome. Success in the eyes of the world can be very different than what God deems as success.
While I have no idea if anything of value was produced for others that day, I know what God accomplished within me. Maybe that’s all it was about, but I don’t really know because I simply cannot see the whole picture as He can. There is always something to be learned from these experiences, so invite the Holy Spirit into the process of assessing, thank Him for what was accomplished and allow Him to mold and shape your next steps – which means His success is always guaranteed.
- There’s no need to fear or worry about a change of plans.
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘They are plans for good not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
When a change of plans is forced upon us, it may seem unexpected to you, but it is not unexpected to God. He already knew, He already has a plan, and He has already been making a way.
- Set goals, and submit every ounce of the process to God, asking for His wisdom, enabling and intervention to accomplish His purposes for your life and His kingdom.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
Arrogance has no place in the dreams of a believer – we don’t have His vision, wisdom, grace or power. God specializes in creating the win-win. When we submit to Him, He works things for our good, the good of all creation, and the good of the kingdom. I don’t know how He does it, but He does – and it’s incredible and it’s something that you and I simply are not capable of doing apart from Him.
Pursuing dreams and desires placed on our hearts by God is a way that we can confidently and joyfully share in His glory. The process provides as much to rejoice about as the outcome because God is faithful. So, go, dream big as an individual, as the church…I can’t wait to see what’s to come.
Father God, we submit ourselves to You today... mold and shape our hearts' desires. Our thoughts are not Your thoughts, but by the power of Your Holy Spirit we, too, will desire the things You know will bring success to us, to those around us and to the kingdom. Great is Your faithfulness! Amen.
Halee Wood is a Certified Life Coach, Speaker and Writer. Connect with her at Run the Race Together.