Setting spiritual goals may be the Christian’s best exercise at the start of the New Year.
Every New Year, I think about setting a resolution for about 0.4 seconds.
That’s about how committed I am to the idea. But this year I wondered, what if I only focused on setting spiritual goals instead?
Sometimes when we set generalized goals for our health, wellness, wealth or parenting, for example, we do so without a clear path or the means to achieving them.
This can leave us feeling pretty defeated by March, when our motivation has faded and the goal of doing better / feeling better seems like more of a good idea than something truly tangible.
Examples of Spiritual Goals and their Benefits
The spiritual goals that I want to pursue this year are different than a fleeting resolution, though.
And here’s why:
- They’re always beneficial and worthwhile. (Unlike fad diets.)
- They help me to understand my purpose, and therefore, make decisions with greater clarity
- I don’t have to pursue these goals on my own strength!
Biblical examples of Goal setting
It’s tempting to think of goals and resolutions as a result of a productivity-driven culture.
But godly men and women in the Bible set goals and God himself demonstrated great intention in everything He does.
A few examples that come to mind:
- God gave very specific instructions to the Israelites on how they were to live and to be set apart as holy in his covenant with them. He provided the blueprint for a nation with the goal of proclaiming his love, sovereignty and faithfulness to all the world.
- Proverbs 16:3 encourages us to “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
- With careful planning and boldness grounded in prayer, Nehemiah set out with a goal to rebuild the city walls of Jerusalem and accomplished it within just 52 days.
- The apostle Paul pressed on “toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14). That goal being, knowing Jesus and becoming like him in every way.
- Paul also admonishes believers to make it our goal “to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (2 Cor 5:9). We are to live our lives in light of eternity.
So we see a pattern in Scripture that Christian goal-setting should first and foremost be grounded in the aim to live a life worthy of our namesake.
Spiritual goals for a purpose-filled year
With these things in mind to move me forward, here are 6 Christian spiritual goals I want to pursue this year (in no particular order).
These pursuits are grounded in Scripture, so we know they’re possible!
And I think every Christian mom could benefit from spiritual goal setting, if you’re not practicing these already.
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1| Embrace Grace
Grace. It’s become a word that I hear so often, I often miss the magnitude of what it means.
Galatians 2:21 says:
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
I need this reminder SO often to avoid my Pharisee tendencies.
While I’m not exactly sacrificing rams in my backyard, I sure am tempted to focus on all the “do’s and don’ts” found in the Bible, especially when it comes to parenting.
Focusing on relationship
As Josh McDowell says, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”
It’s true for me, and it’s true for my kiddos.
Knowing the grace that saved me is the same grace I live under today grants me freedom.
Not freedom to sin, but freedom to understand my limitations, to recognize the price of my sin and the need for relationship with Jesus.
It’s the same grace I need to show my kids and everyone around me.
So one of my goals this year is to keep my inner Pharisee in check by remembering God’s undeserved grace that was extended to me, even when I was a sinner.
2| Delve Deep Into Truth
The world’s message is that what you believe to be true about creation, life, death, sin and eternity – can be defined by your own thoughts, feelings and experiences.
But the Bible tells a different story. It describes basic truths that are eternal and unchanging.
My pastor has a saying that “Your faith is only as strong as the object of your faith”.
In other words, we can believe in whatever we want to, but why would we want to believe something that isn’t true? Why do we hold to beliefs that lack compelling evidence?
Understanding the basis of our faith
Faith in God is so much more than a hope or a wish. It’s anything but blind.
It’s based on what we know to be true: real events that were recorded in history, including the very real person of Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) who came to fulfill God’s promises to those who trust Him.
In John 14:6, Jesus says,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I want to know Jesus more and more, allowing Him – Truth itself – to permeate my life completely.
Because, honestly? I fight my sin nature every day.
The Sword of the Spirit
I want things my way, but I know Jesus has better things for me when I actually DO what He says.
His ways are higher than my ways, and I can trust in the truth of the Word to guide my life.
My prayer is that as I seek God more, His truth will transform me.
I want my attitude, my actions and in turn, my relationships to reflect this pursuit of truth and love which I can’t manufacture on my own.
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3| Have a Quiet Time Every Day
This obviously goes right along with seeking truth, because I have to be IN the Word to find it.
And if you want to know how to set spiritual goals, it must start with prayer.
But something I’ve learned since becoming a mom several years ago is that finding “quiet time” to really sit and listen to God is NOT easy.
Carving Intention into our Schedule
I have to be extremely intentional about spending time with God or it just won’t happen.
This year, I am more committed than ever to finding these quiet moments, even in the chaos of motherhood.
I have never spent time in the Word or in prayer that I’ve regretted.
This actually means we need some margins in our day, and some actual quiet where we’re alone with God – whatever that needs to look like.
It could be first thing in the morning, late at night, or locked in the bathroom after lunchtime.
I believe God will honor our effort when we’re willing to create the space.
Making quiet time count
Another book that was really helpful for focusing my time was Women in the Word: How to Study the Bible with both Our Hearts and Our Minds, by Jen Wilkin.
It’s been a great inspiration to me, really understand the Word in its context and see how the entire story fits together, piece by piece.
It also gave me a roadmap of how to study the the Word in ways I hadn’t thought about before. Scripture interprets Scripture, and it’s always an exciting discovery.
Both of these books mentioned would be great resources this year if you are like me and you feel like your quiet time seems to go through stages: rushed, mechanical – or even non-existent at times.
We’ve all been there as moms, and sometimes a fresh perspective can be the catalyst we need to remember that God is always there, his word is active, and he longs to refresh our over-stimulated and distracted minds.
Also read: The Best Christian Parenting Blogs
4| Keep a Prayer Journal
Confession time: I haven’t kept a prayer journal in years.
More than once, I would buy a notebook and just stare at it, feeling overwhelmed.
I had not a clue what write or where to begin. (Pretty sad for a writer.)
Last year, I bought some pretty journals to give as Christmas gifts, and ended up with one left over. I felt that tug of the Holy Spirit that this one was meant for me.
Perhaps this year is my year to start keeping a prayer journal again.
The result of record-keeping
When I take time to write down my prayers, God somehow becomes more personal to me. I can more clearly focus on who I’m praying for and what I’m praising God for (there’s always something!).
I encourage you to just start small if you need to. That’s my plan this year!
No need to write a book every day or wax poetic. Just write what’s on your heart.
Recently, I came across an old prayer journal from the early years of my marriage.
When I look back on those heartfelt words, I can see where my prayers became a living conversation with a loving God- and less of a checkbox-commitment or hurried obligation.
5| Find a Mentor – or Be One
You can probably think of at least one woman who has impacted your spiritual life. The type of woman who encouraged you, challenged you – and most of all, loved you as a sister in Christ.
If you don’t have someone like this in your life, I encourage you to find her this year.
Your church is a great place to start, or there may be other women in your life who can fill this role (family, friends, even neighbors).
The Titus model
In Titus chapter 2, older women in the church are instructed to teach younger women how to be loving wives, mothers and homemakers, “that the Word of God not be reviled”.
I don’t know that there’s a definition for what exact age you transition from being mentored to being a mentor.
But I’m realizing at this stage in life with 4 children and 16 years of marriage, I should look for more opportunities to mentor.
At the same time, I’m still very thankful for those women who continue to play this role in my life.
Whether we realize it or not, there’s probably other moms watching you- how you handle your children and the stress that accompanies mom-life.
Other women are looking to see how your life reflects the character of Jesus.
While there are no perfect parents, other moms need to be encouraged that being a Godly wife and mother is possible, and worth pursuing.
6| Read Scripture as a Family
We have a variety of devotionals that my kids enjoy reading at bedtime – everything from Berenstain Bears Bedtime Devotional for the little ones, to the Bethany Hamilton (Soul Surfer) Devotional for my oldest daughter.
But in the past I’ve struggled with making the time for intentional Scripture reading with all four kids.
And truly, it’s the most important thing I can do in my day.
Where to start
You don’t really need a devotional to have a family devotion time – all you need is the Bible and a time that’s set aside for learning and growing together.
Even preschoolers can pray and answer simple questions.
One simple place to start is to read one chapter of Proverbs each day, since there are 31.
I read these to the younger kids after their bedtime story, when they’re settled into bed before we pray.
With our older girls, we go through a Bible reading plan, sometimes the same one I’m doing on my own.
We take turns reading the passages and then talk about questions that arise and how they apply to our lives, as well as within the big-picture narrative of the Bible.
Routines are key
Just as with your own quiet time, prayer and Bible Study- our kids are watching our example.
So try not to stress about everyone’s cooperation or participation.
It’s always hard to get into a new routine- just like getting started with any goal or “resolution”. Once it’s established, it just becomes a wonderful part of your day.
Consistency is the main thing, and that’s what I try to focus on with our family Scripture reading.
What are Your Spiritual Goals?
So the question is, what spiritual goals do you plan to pursue this year?
I encourage you to spend time in prayer and ask God what areas he wants you to grow in.
He will reveal those places that need refining. He will bring to mind those you can serve, and how you can best serve them.
As much as we try to set all kinds of goals in our lives, we simply can’t know what’s ahead.
We can only take faithful actions.
But the best part of spiritual goal-setting is, we serve a God who has promised to be right beside us as we seek Him first – no matter what the future holds.
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