Eating an Elephant (Part 3)

This is another installment in the Goal Setting series. You can read the other posts here. Looking Ahead

"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."--Phil. 3:13, 14

If you're anything like me, about a month into the year (or sooner!), I find my motivation starts flagging. I mean, who wants to eat an elephant anyway? All sorts of things come up and I start feeling discouraged because I'm not making the progress I want to see or I bit off more than I can chew. Those things happen.

Sometimes I did take on too much. In fact, that is usually the case for me. In that case, that calls for a bit of a readjustment, not complete abandonment. Just because my original goal was too lofty (and I am sure there are some this year that will fall into that category) doesn't mean I am to give it up entirely. This is where I need to ask the Lord for additional guidance on making the goal a little more doable.

But somehow, to make it through, I will need to expect that it will get challenging somewhere along the line. When the newness wears off, what needs to be underneath is a solid commitment to a vision and a purpose. I need to know why I am doing what I am doing, which is why I encouraged you to start with your priorities. That gives our goals a place in the bigger scheme of life. So when push comes to shove and I am finding it difficult to wake up in the morning to keep my quiet time with God, I remember that the goal is not merely saying I spent 30 minutes with Him. It's about cultivating my relationship with Him. If I value that, I will get myself up out of bed to meet with Him or work at finding another time that will fit better with my personality and temperament. What we see in the future needs to be greater than the price we pay now.

I think this is where I have trouble when it comes to weight loss. I enjoy my food too much. Not that that's a bad thing. I believe food is meant to be enjoyed. I think my problem is that my desire to lose weight is less than my desire to eat that bag of chips or that slice of cake. I have forgotten the reason why I am doing things because it is clouded by, in this case, the immediate pleasure of eating something I like. For you it could be something entirely different.

This is where I need the Lord so desperately in reaching those goals. In fact, it is in these moments of the flesh where I can see God come through most. These challenging moments are when I can really grow in my faith. When I make set goals with the Lord, seek His wisdom for breaking them down into smaller tasks, and then gird my loins to tackle the task, I have wonderful opportunities for partnering and working with Him to effect the changes that I so long to see.

Our lives are often so busy just maintaining (or surviving!) that we have little energy for other things---and these are usually the things that we really want to do. Things like having time to listen to an original story written by our children. Admiring paintings. Having heart to heart talks with our spouse. Doing something creative---just for the fun of it. Having time for a friend when she calls. Ministering out of our passion and giftedness. Or simply just stopping to smell the roses.

For me, goal setting is not just about adding more things into my day because I "ought" to. It's about seeking to become the person God has made me to be. Unfortunately, He doesn't just "zap" us into that new person. It's about daily putting on new habits and taking off old ones. And that takes work! But unless those actions are rooted in a future, and hopefully eternal, purpose, we really don't have it in ourselves to keep going when the going gets tough. I know I don't.

I hope that this mini-series has given you a glimpse into my personal thought process when it comes to goal setting. I encourage you to take the time this month if you haven't already done so, to seek the Lord in setting goals. He is so faithful when it comes to growing us. When we come before Him with teachable hearts, He is more than willing to guide and lead us. May this new year be a fruitful and rich one for you as you step out in faith. Now go eat an elephant!