This blog has been contributed by a B4T worker in the Middle East.
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. – 2 Timothy 2:4-6
Paul is writing to Timothy about leadership. He’s writing to help him focus as he is leading the church in Ephesus in difficult circumstances, both personally and aggregately. Central to his advice is what he says to Timothy. He is calling Timothy to focus on the things that matter (no soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits). Secondly, he should ensure that his focus is enacted in healthy, biblical ways; he should ensure that he does the things that matter the way God wants them done (an athlete cannot win unless playing by the rules). Lastly, he must do what matters most to God in God’s way, but he must do those things with a relentless pursuit (the hard-working farmer gets the first share of the crops).
I’m not sure if you caught what just happened, but Paul just tricked us into setting goals by giving us one of the many biblical bases for goal setting. In the end, goal setting is nothing more than formalizing what is important so that you are actively aware and can ensure you pursue those things above all else.
Think about it: when someone says, “I just can’t set goals”, they need to reconsider. Because in truth, everyone sets goals. But those who do it unintentionally are dragged along in life by their base desires. Their body and their unconscious dictate what they do. Those who set goals have brought to the forefront of their minds the things they should be pursuing, and thus they have an edge in life. We will not pursue the things that matter to God by accident. We will only pursue those things if we think about them and make a plan (kind of like new year’s resolutions…) to accomplish them.
Many millennials dislike goal setting. We feel as though it is a formality and that it is only for leaders or business people. I completely and strongly disagree, and so does Paul from his writing to Timothy. We cannot allow our lives to be driven by our unconscious passions and desires; we must get into the driver’s seat (ala the Holy Spirit). I think what often daunts would-be-goal-setters is the perception that so many people overdo it. When we see people with multiple pages of goals, we become overwhelmed. My advice is to start small.
This means, take baby steps in the beginning. Pray and ask Him for His priorities. Then think, using the Bible, to figure out His top 2 or 3 priorities in any given situation and write them down somewhere you will see them often. Make sure the goals do not become more important than God Himself and play by the rules God has set out in His Word in accomplishing these goals. Pursue this relentlessly, but always use the brain God has given you to make sure you aren’t going overboard.
This is a call to my fellow millennials and other non-goal-setters to embrace goal setting for the maximizing of fruit-bearing in their lives. This has been a public service announcement.