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Establishing Priorities And Setting Goals

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

I See You, by Douglas Cupery is not a New York Times best seller, but to those who write letters to people in prison, it is both a worthwhile and helpful read. It provides valuable insights for anyone wishing to offer encouragement in the form of personal handwritten letters to incarcerated men and women. One particular chapter, ‘Developing Routines and Goals’, is immensely practical, but not just for those in prison. The application is for all of us who at one time or another, have struggled to reevaluate our priorities and set realistic goals.

The death of a loved one is a stark reality shock as to what is really important. It reminds us that life is fleeting and filled with uncertainty. We truly know not what tomorrow will bring. The passing of my own father just a few months ago helped me to reshape my priorities. It reminded me to give greater time and energy to the significant others in my life and leave aside many of the pastimes and time wasters that I had thought important up until then. We all need to reassess the pressures that attempt to captivate our attention and inundate our lives, laying down what is of little value and worth. What is in our lives that is tedious, a time waster and unhelpful right now?

Developing healthy routines each day is crucial. Without routines we feel like we accomplish very little and life can seem chaotic. Developing healthy routines can decrease stress and contribute to better coping abilities, especially when events seem to take an unexpected turn. Beginning each day with prayer, reading Scripture or listening to worship music is a must for those who profess to love the LORD. Thinking about the day ahead, planning the activities, and committing all to the Father, who knows our needs and will go before us, is imperative. Become familiar with Proverbs 3:5-6 knowing that it is God whom we trust with our day and God who will establish our footsteps. Submit all to Him, especially the parts of our day we have no control over.

It is helpful to keep a notebook or diary and write down the plans or goals set for the day. Writing our plans down on paper is more impacting than just thinking about them. I am a list person and find great satisfaction in crossing off goals as they are completed. Without expecting too much of ourselves, setting deadlines for each plan is a worthwhile practice that helps the disciplined person get the task completed. For those who are not so disciplined, having someone keep us accountable is beneficial and will help move us forward to completing that goal.

Life coaches, mentors and personal trainers will talk about SMART goals. What are SMART goals? The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Achievable,and Time-Bound. When we set goals within these parameters, we have a greater chance of seeing those goals become a reality.

However, as Christians we ought to go much further than this. We ought to be seeking God’s heart in all our plans. Our plans need to be held not with determined grit and tight fists, but loosely, with open hands, knowing that despite our good intentions, the LORD will establish our steps (Proverbs 16:9).

How well are we doing this? Do we pout and perform when our goals are not met, or when another stands in the way of our plans? When we believe that God is truly Sovereign and the ultimate provider in our life, we will come to understand that what may seem like a hindrance to us, is really part of God’s better plan for us. Even in times of disappointment, we can rejoice that He is working all out for our good.

Finally, we need to be committed to the goals and plans that we set. It will take hard work, but God will provide the strength and courage that we need along the way. Though we need to have faith that God will lead and provide, we also need to do our part. Remember the first man, Adam, who was to labor and keep the garden so it would be fruitful? Adam did not kick back and wait for God to do the work. As he worked God blessed the work of his hands. As we intentionally set goals and work quietly towards them, He will bless the work of our hands also.

Heavenly Father, increase my commitment and diligence to do the work that You have given me to do. Forgive me for laziness and apathy. When I drop in fervor, revive me, when I am distracted, restore me. Increase within me more of the faith that enables me to trust You in all circumstances, especially those I do not understand. May my work and plans be Yours and continually glorifying to You. Amen.’

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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  1. Jennifer
    Thank you for sharing this helpful and pertinent message.
    These days, as I age – I always have a list!
    God Bless~

  2. i use a notebook. find it helpful as i read bible

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