In my last post, I shared three ways God calls you through scripture: Principles, Tasks, and Changes. Today, you are going to learn exactly what to do to apply what you learn in bible study to your daily life. Specifically, how to set spiritual goals for living out God’s Word based upon the principles and tasks you encounter. Here’s how it works…
Principles are lessons that you implement indefinitely. These are ongoing standards of thought and conduct. Some principles such as, “love your neighbor as yourself” may prompt you to fulfill a specific task, such as, bringing your neighbor a meal because she has been sick. Once the task is done, however, the principle still stands and beacons you to maintain it as a regular part of your discipleship. For that reason, principles are best applied by adopting ongoing spiritual disciplines.
For example, you might read, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). From this you might realize the principles of having spiritual friendships to hold you accountable. As a discipline you could meet weekly with a Christian friend to share your struggles and pray.
You can accomplish some tasks in a single action step; for example, setting with your friend while her husband goes through surgery. Other tasks, such as, going on a mission trip, are more complex and require a series of action steps. For these tasks you will need well-defined goals with clear action steps. Here are five tips to successful set spiritual goals.
Make your goal very specific. Avoid generalities like: “I need to prayer more.” or “I should be more patient.” Instead make goals such as, “I will prayer every morning for 15 minutes for the next 30 days.” or “I will practice patience by letting people finish what they are saying without interrupting them.”
Make your goal measurable. How will you know you have completed your goal? Can you quantifiably track how you’re doing?
Write your goals out. One extensive study of Harvard graduates found that written goals were 50% more likely to be completed than unwritten goals. Writing down goals set you up for success in two ways. First, a written goal is a visible reminder. For example, I track my blogging goals on my bathroom mirror using a dry erase marker. Each morning my mirror reminds me. Second, writing clarifies your thinking. The clearer your goal the better your chances are for success.
Create a deadline. There is an old saying, “A task fills the time alotted to it.” If you do not put an ending date on your task, you won’t likely get it done. Time limits also motivate you. You’re able to say to yourself, “I only have two weeks left. I can do anything for just two more weeks.”
Tell someone your goal. Just by telling a friend you create a certain degree of accountability. In some case, you may even develop support.
To make this process fill-in the blank easy for you, I have created a “Spiritual Goals Setting Template”. Just click on the link below to get you copy
FYI–Today’s post is adapted from my upcoming book, “Learning and Living the Word of God.”