Is It Biblical To Set Goals?

W. Terry Varner
October 14, 2012

The question of our article title seems to be foolish, yet I have heard Christians object to goal-setting either personally or congregationally.  I have always had both short-range and long-range goals in life.  In fact, when one fulfils a goal, he ought to replace it immediately with a new one.  Are we not showing our biblical ignorance when we object to setting goals?

How important is Goal Setting?  A goal is something planned, with God’s help, to accomplish.  It involves our behavior, self-discipline, actions, and motivation to name a few items.  Before a goal can become a reality in life, we must be realistic and properly define it.  Only through the effort of hard work are our goals accomplished.  For those old enough to remember Art Linkletter, he wrote:  “Every successful person I’ve ever known has a definite set of goals he was shooting for—a specific dream to turn into reality” (Yes, You Can! 34).

The Bible teaches the importance of Goal Setting.  Relative to the salvation of man, God set a long-range goal concerning the coming Redeemer (Genesis 3:15).  Man’s redemption would never have occurred if God had not planned it;  i.e. made it His goal.  We are told that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was “foreordained [planned] before the foundation of the world” (I Peter 1:20), but was realized “in these last times for you” (I Peter 1:20).

The ministry of Jesus is filled with short-ranged goals.  This is seen in His words:  “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth” (Mark 1:38).  The next verse said that Jesus traveled “throughout all Galilee” (Mark 1:39).

Areas of the Christian’s life in which he should set goals.  The Christian should set meaningful goals.  Daily we should be developing and working on specific goals.  What areas of life?

Spiritually.  First in life must be concern for our spiritual life.  We are to have Christ’s mind.  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

Physically.  Jesus grew physically.  (Luke 2:52).  The apostle John wrote, “I wish above all things that you may…be in good health, even as your soul prospers” (3 John 2, emp. added).

Emotionally.  We have many emotions.  One that weakens so many is that of worry or being overly anxious about life.  We are told by Jesus, “Take no thought for the morrow” (Matthew 6:34) and by Paul, “Be careful [anxious, worry] for nothing” (Philippians 4:6).

Socially.  I have always believed the following verse is a description for our life.  “And Jesus increased [grew] in wisdom [intellectually] and stature [physically], and in favor with God [spiritually] and man [socially]” (Luke 2:52).

Intellectually.  “But grow in grace, and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Vocationally.  God has always expected man to have a good work ethic.  “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Financially.  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth . . . but lay up . . . Treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Family.  Read both Deuteronomy 6:6-14 and Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6:1-4.