Goals, Grounded in Grace

goals-grounded-in-graceEvery January we hear a lot about resolutions and goals, about doing more and being better in the New Year. And there’s nothing wrong with that, not really. I’m a huge proponent of goal-setting and it’s good to reassess and reaffirm those goals periodically. I put lots of effort into establishing my goals for every year, and I set goals for just about everything, including work, relationships, and faith.

I’m so goal-oriented in fact, that sometimes it gets me into trouble. In Work, Love, Pray, I spent a whole chapter (Chapter 15 if you want to check it out!) on struggling with perfectionism.

Is it something you can relate to?

Most of the professional Christian women I know sure can. It’s just sort of the way we’re wired, isn’t it?

It’s no accident, either. Because while “perfectionism” itself is bad and can cause all kinds of problems, it comes as part of a spectrum of positive character attributes like diligence, productivity and thoroughness.

Oh, and goal-setting!

Goal-setting is a lifesaver for me. I’m a chronic multi-tasker (I know I’m not alone here!), and I was raised to work hard and be productive all the time. Productivity is so ingrained that I often find it hard to be still, even when I’m engaged in an important conversation or trying to pray or read scripture. It’s just natural for me to find something for my hands or feet to do. I’ve learned that to keep myself focused, it helps to set specific, practical goals.

So what’s wrong with setting goals for your faith? Nothing at all, as long as you’ve got your perspective straight.

Goal-setting can be a way to stay focused and consistent in your faith, but it can also be a way of claiming control over your salvation.

I had an email from my friend Amy (and 4word team member) recently that was a great reminder for me to be careful in how I approach my faith goals. Amy shared how she’s been impacted by a church sermon on Ephesians 2:1-10. She was reminded—and I was too—that we are saved by grace alone, never by effort or achievement.

Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:3-9).

Go ahead and set goals. Please set goals! Set specific, achievable, practical goals for spending time with the Lord, learning from His word, and finding fellowship with other believers. But ground those goals in grace and grace alone. Don’t resolve to be better in 2014 in order to repay God or earn His favor. The truth is, we can’t do either of those things anyway.

There are no merit badges available in your walk with God!

Nothing you do or say can ever truly merit God’s grace. That’s what makes it miraculous!

Goals or not, have you been trying to earn God’s grace?