The Spirit of Holiness – Lenten Season 2021
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 NIV).
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV)
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NIV)
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:2 NIV)
The Holiness Project – Day 3 “Spiritual Goals”
We have been talking about Spiritual Drift and the reality that most people (and most Christians) “drift” through life with only a hazy, half-formed idea of where they are going. We have made the bold claim that the normal (but uncommon) Christian life is one with purpose and direction and self-discipline towards a goal.
We have also been talking about Christian Hedonism and the fact that joy is not optional in the Christian life. If your life is “joyless” there is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed. Again, the normal (but uncommon) Christian life is excited about the future. We have hope because God has a wonderful plan for our lives (Jeremiah 3:14 NIV). Our bold claim here is that our deepest held dreams and our purest desires have been put there by God and that His Kingdom purpose for our lives will include and enhance those natural, creational gifts, talents and abilities.
With those two bold claims, we as a Christian fellowship should be able to take the gates of hell by storm. But alas, it is not so. Something else needs to be said. For some reason, a suspicious fear has arisen among the people of God that if they strive too hard for anything, they would offend God. We want to be super careful not to build our own kingdoms and end up defeated, living life in our fleshly selves without the anointing of God.
Actually, I have to agree.
We need to be careful. I already pointed out in the previous post that sin also needs to be taken into account. Some of our felt needs are rooted in unbelief and fear. Sometimes we want full control over our lives and our situations and we leave no room for God to be our provider and take care of our needs. Sometimes our deepest desires are really secondary dreams that are rooted in trauma or need or scarcity and do not reflect our true selves in Christ. Sometimes our dreams of the future have to do with luxury and self-aggrandizement and personal status. This is not our true self in Christ.
The goal of Christian self-actualization is to become all that we can become in Christ. Not without Christ. To the degree that we practice our unity with God and others, to the degree that we are rooted in the finished work of Christ on the cross, to the degree that we develop our relationship with Him and His bride, the church, to that degree we are in Christ. A Christian who is fully alive in Christ is the glory of God. God is revealing His glory in us and that has to do with everyday reality and not just with the heavenly realities we love to talk about in church. Everything is spiritual.
When you listen to motivational speeches on YouTube, you get the distinct impression that these people are building a fortress of flesh with a focus on self and the strengthening of pride in one’s own accomplishments that should put the fear of God into all of us. Rightly so.
But it isn’t the process of setting goals, learning self-discipline, encouraging one another to stay focused and working hard towards a goal that is the problem. It is the foundation that is weak and rotting, no matter what your accomplishments are in life.
I am reminded that after all of my hard work to accomplish my goals, if I don’t take care of my health, I have nothing. I am a diabetic (type 2) and I need to take my health seriously.
I am reminded that after all of my hard work to accomplish my goals AND take care of my health, if I don’t take care of my relationships with the people closest to me, I have nothing. No one ever lies on their deathbed wishing they had made more money or had accomplished more. It’s always about their relationships. That’s what matters.
I am reminded that after all of my hard work to accomplish my goals AND take care of my health AND protect and develop all of my relationships with my family and friends, if I don’t have a relationship with God in Christ, I have nothing. Jesus put it quite well. “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36 NIV).
On the other hand, if you are a new creature in Christ and you are growing in spiritual and relational maturity and you are taking care of your health (since your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit – 1 Cor. 6:19 NIV), then what about your purpose, your goals and your ministry. Your life is your ministry. You have influence in many different ways and you must use that influence to promote the Kingdom of God. No doubt.
But still, most Christians fall short right at this point. Being too ambitious is bad, they say. But I say, ambition for the Lord, rooted in the cross and your relationship with God in Christ, brings glory to God.
It’s a question of getting the foundation right and establishing your spiritual goals. But what are spiritual goals? Are they goals about spiritual things, about ministry ideas, about church development or are they about your career, your business, your finances? Perhaps both?
One expert suggests that we have goals in the areas of our FINANCES, our FAITH, our FAMILY and our FITNESS. I like that breakdown. In each area of our life, we can have goals and work towards those goals. We figure out what our spiritual and creational gifts are and what we believe is our Life Purpose (which includes a true assessment of what we want to do, what we are motivated to accomplish and what we “dream” about doing). So far so good. But we need to go further. Those general directions need to be broken down into specific goals (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) that we can only hope to accomplish.
Why BHAG goals? Because we can’t do them without God’s help. That’s the whole point. Once you understand that it is literally impossible for you to change the human heart, impossible to transform anyone into a new creature, even impossible to get someone to agree with you about the message of the Bible, you realize that without God, and His intervention, no one will every be saved and all of our efforts at evangelism are useless. That is when you discover the power of prayer. The point of trying to do the impossible is to do it in the strength of God and with His anointing. Of course.
But BHAG goals that are not part of the church? What about those?
Like what, for example?
Well, like making a million bucks.
Yes, well, why do you want the million bucks?
I suppose to live in a big house and have a secure income for the rest of my life.
Well, everything is spiritual but I think, in this case, it isn’t very pleasing to God. God sets the overall agenda. We are here to build the Kingdom of God. We need a tentmaking business or job, of course, and there is no reason not to excel at it. But the above discussion simply demonstrates that we don’t know our purpose as a child of God, yet.
On the other hand, someone might say that they want a million bucks because that is what it will take to fund up a foundation in which they can make their living as the director with a normal salary and use the foundation to care for street people in San Francisco. Well, now. That is alot better.
And you seem to have a passion for this work.
Yes, I am out there every weekend working with the Salvation Army trying to bring some relief to the homeless but we need more resources. I know something about business and I have this business idea that may work and it would provide ongoing funding for this cause.
Great. Get to work. Everything is spiritual.
In this case, we can certainly pray with open hearts for God’s blessing and increase because the purpose of the resources is to benefit the Kingdom of God while taking care of our own needs in the process. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
What makes a spiritual goal “spiritual” is that it is rooted in your Life Purpose which is determined by your new identity in Christ. There is a lot of leeway that God gives you, but looking at what you are good at and what you dream of doing is a great place to start.
But…..and this is key…..your heart must always be right with God. Your motives must always be pure. Your intentions must always be to please God. But don’t be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly use. That doesn’t please God at all.
If your foundation, your relationship with God, is strong the rest will be built up in the right way. It isn’t about your ego but about glorifying God and building His Kingdom. It isn’t about your security, since God is your provider. It isn’t about your enjoyment of all the best things in life (leave that for heaven), rather it is about the stewardship of God’s resources (which includes taking reasonable care of yourself and your family).
I always liked what John Wesley said about Stewardship.
Make as much money as you can.
Save as much money as you can.
Give as much money as you can.
Stewardship is about living a simple lifestyle (Saving) but still being wise as serpents and innocent as doves in business (Make) with a focus on building the Kingdom of God (Give). Makes sense to me.
I have spiritual goals. I believe that my life purpose is to please God and take joy in my relationship with Him and using everything at my disposal to promote the Kingdom of God and live a decent, but simple, lifestyle in the meantime. I believe that making as much money as I can in business (if that is my gift) is an honorable endeavor. I have some freedom to pick and choose which kind of business, always thinking about working to my strengths, and able to pray for and expect increase and blessing from God.
I believe that my mission is to write, publish and sell my books, seminars and movies and influence my generation as an international speaker, spiritual life coach and podcaster.
That mission is the expression of my Life Purpose and fits within the overall vision of God for me and my integration into His church. As part of the church, which has a key role to play in the Kingdom of God, evangelism and discipleship is the primary goal. But as part of the broader Kingdom of God, each of us must fulfill our individual roles and responsibilities in a way that influences their generation to take the rule of God in this world seriously.
I also have spiritual goals that have to do with my health. If my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, then I am responsible to take care of it. Enough said.
Still, as Paul points out, physical training is good but spiritual training is better (I Timothy 4:8 NIV). So, the ultimate foundation for my spiritual goals is my relationship with God.
Here is how I express that most important aspect of my life.
Created for His Pleasure
The joy of the Lord is my strength.
Getting rid of all my small ambitions
to make this one thing the hallmark of my life.
To please God.
Whether I get what I pray for or not,
whether my circumstances change or not,
whether I am healed or not.
To consider every sacrifice a small price to pay
to obtain the pearl of great price.
The Desert Warrior
Let’s talk to God….
Lord, I know that my relationship with you is fundamental but I also know that you expect me to work on all the levels of my life. Relationships. Health. Stewardship. Spiritual Goals are essential.
Sometimes I like to blame a lot of things, situations, people, even You, for why I can’t seem to get much traction in the practical things of life. But I know that isn’t fair.
The truth is that the problem is me. I am often unwilling to pay the price to become the kind of person who is worthy of the resources to do effective ministry. I don’t want to become an unworthy servant. Teach me to be like you. Worthy of your trust.
In your name I pray. Amen