In our current culture of Gospel-Centeredness (which you will see I am all for below) achievement and goals are almost frowned upon. Some have co-opted a do-nothing, lazy, and passionless phrase "resting" in the Gospel; in place of an active, courageous, and passionate biblical Gospel-Centeredness. Jonathan Edwards was known for his 70 resolutions, but his own words remind us that they were not by his strength or for his glory...
During the first week of December my family and I will take our annual goal setting and planning retreat. This year we are taking three days to reflect, repent, and refocus. Joy and I will reflect on our goals and plans from 2014 and set goals individually and as a family for 2015. This will be the fifth year we have made a commitment to set goals as a family, and to say it has changed our marriage and life would be an understatement.
First, I want to encourage you to read a book that really transformed my thoughts about what it meant to love God, lead my family, and live the Gospel. The premise in this book has become the foundation and filter for so much of my life. It would be well worth your time to pick up a copy and read Gospel Coach by Scott Thomas and Tom Wood.
Second, spend some time reflecting on how you are evaluating growth for yourself and your family. How do you measure what you can't manage? Is there a tangible way to see the fruit of the Gospel in your life and leadership? Paul talked about how the Gospel was productive, proficient, and powerful in the life of believers, “Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,” -(Colossians 1:5–6, ESV) If you are in Christ, you should be bearing and increasing in the fruit of the Gospel.
Finally, make sure you don't confuse goal setting with performance. Goal setting should be Gospel-Centered. Your goals are not to define your value and worth, your identity is in Christ. If you are in Christ you are already approved, forgiven, and accepted. There is no way we can set a "goal" for God to love us any more than He already does. We do not perform our way into pleasing God. Personal and family goals are a way to grow in Christ and manifest His kingdom here on earth, in your life and the life of your family. Through Gospel-Centered goals we aim to display the rule and reign of Christ in and through our lives.
There are three primary areas I believe every christian should set goals in; loving God, leading your family (or leading well if you are un-married), and living the gospel. Each year Joy and I set goals that flow out of these three spheres of life. This is a great way for us to stay focused on spiritual disciplines, cultivate a healthy family, and live out the kingdom mission. This has become one of the most beneficial ways Joy and I have grown together in marriage. Joy has said, that for us, it has been the difference between "surviving" and "thriving".
Here are three results of goal setting we have identified:
1. Communication- Joy and I have cultivated some great communication during these times. I am amazed at how much closer we become when we stop long enough to listen and talk to each other about our family and life.
2. Prioritizing- There are 168 hours in a week. If you sleep 8 hours a day that leaves you 112. What are your priorities? You will either AGONIZE or PRIORITIZE! Joy and I finally realized we simply could not do everything. Prioritizing our values and time changed our lives.
- Everything cannot be a priority. You can’t have it all.
- Everything should not be a priority. All things are not created equal.
- Some activities and investments are more important than others.
- Some activities and investments are more lasting than others.
3. Growth- Joy and I will celebrate 13 years of marriage at the end of December. Unlike many marriages, we did not start out well and we certainly were not growing in Christ as a couple. By God's grace, we have seen our greatest growth over the past six years. It was during this time Joy and I began intentionally setting goals for ourselves and family in the area of loving God, leading our family, and living the gospel.
Gospel Life Plan Resources: Interactive Gospel Life Plan Documents (Examples & Blanks)