By Mike Glenn
The importance of a goal and a plan: Have you ever noticed that things can float downstream without even trying, but must give considerable effort to go upstream any distance? A car can coast downhill, but must use gasoline to power itself uphill. If we are not careful, Christians and congregations will live their spiritual life by simply drifting downstream letting chance and circumstances take us where they will. But, to press to higher ground, to gain new spiritual heights every day, to take ourselves to the next level (Phil. 3:14; 1 Tim. 3:13), we must do it on purpose.
In spiritual life, it is completely true that if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. God did not decide to save the world on a whim. He purposed it from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The church was part of His eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:11). Even the Old Law and its tabernacle and worship showed the purposeful planning of God as it was the shadow of the real image of New Testament law and worship. And, God did not leave the preaching of the gospel to chance. He gave the tools of inspiration, tongues and other miraculous gifts to assure His work was carried out. He gave the plan of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Boaz purposed to do good toward another and he called it “handfuls of purpose” (Ruth 2:16). Daniel determined not to violate the law of God. In Daniel 1:8 we are told, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…”. The psalmist purposed his words carefully according to Psalm 17:3 “...I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” Job purposed not to lust, “I made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I think upon a maid (Job 31:1). We are to give as we have purposed in our heart (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Truthfully, there is no part of the Christian life that does not demand purposeful planning. From obeying the plan of salvation to raising our children in the Lord to gaining control of our fleshly desires, reaching toward heaven — it all will only be accomplished on purpose (goal) and with a plan or series of plans.
There are four parts to this process of reaching the next level of spirituality.
(1)We must remember as we make plans to ask the counsel of the LORD. “If the Lord wills,” should be both our speech and our practice (James 4:15). The preacher of old warns us in Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel, purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors, they are established.” We must ask advice of the elderly that are strong in the LORD. We must “Remember the Gibeonites”. In Joshua 9, this group of people fooled Joshua into breaking one of the commands of GOD to not make a league with the inhabitants of the land. If Joshua and the other leaders had asked counsel of God they would not have been fooled.
(2)Clearly define the goal. From “Go, make disciples,” to “be of the same mind and the same judgment” to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” we must have the goals clearly defined and understood.
(3)For each of the goals mentioned in point 2 above, God gave us a plan, method, and resources. The scriptures are full of planners. God was the greatest planner. Let’s walk in His footsteps. For any congregation of the LORD’S church to grow we must make purposeful plans. Personal or congregational purity does not happen by accident. Evangelism does not happen by accident. Spiritual wisdom does not come by accident. What size will our congregation be in 20 years? How are the kids being trained for the eldership or preaching or other service in the kingdom? What verses of scripture will the kids in Bible class have memorized when they turn 18? What Bible material will they have covered? In what way are we purposely solidifying the marriages in our congregation? How well trained are the teachers who are guiding young minds? What sins will you overcome this year? How much of the Bible will you read? What lessons will you study with your children at home? How many souls will you try to save this month? Plan, plan, plan!
(4)We must follow through. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Goals without plans are empty. Plans without follow through are fruitless.
Brothers and sisters, like God, let’s become planners and workers of our plans. Have a purposeful life.