Christianity tends to involve adherents forming a personal relationship with God. Those who are stronger in faith tend to describe themselves as having a closer, deeper or more intimate relationship with Jesus than those who struggle with their own faith. As such, strengthening and deepening your relationship with God is a common spiritual goal. There are a variety of ways to do so, of course, and it often involves reaching smaller spiritual goals. You might feel that you need to improve your prayer life and so set a goal of praying for a longer period of time every night. You may think that you need to spend more time with Scripture and aim to spend an hour every morning reading the Bible.
Regardless of whether your goals are spiritual in nature or physical, it is easy to say that you are going to do something. It is much harder to actually do it. If you are going to reach your spiritual goals, you will need to think carefully about them and be sure that you are striving toward them just like you would any other goal. With spiritual goals, you will have divine help, but you must be willing and able to do most of the work yourself. Here are six keys to setting successful spiritual goals and successfully growing closer to God.
You are aiming to achieve a spiritual goal. As such, the first thing you should do is seek advice from God. Pray about your spiritual goal, your desire to grow closer to Him and anything else that crosses your mind. Ask Him to help you clear out any lingering doubts and to give you strength as you embark on your journey. You can also pray to seek guidance on how to best go about achieving your spiritual goals or even what goal you should set. Maybe you feel that you need to change your spiritual habits in order to grow closer to God, but you are not sure which specific practices you need to revamp. Is your prayer life sufficient or do you need to spend more time in prayer? Are you reading your Bible often enough or should you be aiming to spend more time with Scripture? If you are unsure where to start with your goals, prayer is your first priority.
When you set spiritual goals, your final aim is to draw close to God and improve your own faith and life. In order to do this successfully, you need to be brutally honest with yourself about what it is you really need to improve in your life. Do not claim that you need to work on improving your patience when really your problem is that you are struggling to stay faithful to your spouse. God will not be fooled if you pray to Him for help communicating with your spouse when what you actually need to work on is treating your parents with compassion or becoming less selfish.
Examining your flaws is never a pleasant pastime. Most people prefer to shove their imperfections to the back of their mind and never contemplate them. If you are going to improve yourself, however, you need to know what needs fixing.
Regardless of whether you are setting a spiritual goal or planning a weight loss regime, the best goals are the ones that are specific. “Get healthier” is not a great goal simply because it is too vague. What would make you healthier? Are you trying to shed fat, build muscle or improve your resting heart rate? Spiritual goals are no different on this front. “Grow closer to Jesus” is a wonderful idea, but it is a goal that can be hard to work toward because it lacks any sort of specificity. Identify clearly how you want to deepen your relationship with God. Does improving your relationship with God mean altering your prayer life or does it mean working in your community? Does it mean standing up for your beliefs at work or spending more time in quiet contemplation? How you aim to achieve your goal will vary wildly depending on what your goal is precisely.
Set Yourself Up For Success
If you are serious about achieving a goal, you need to make sure you are in an environment that is conducive to success. Take a very serious and very critical look at the people you spend most of your time with and what places you go the most often. Are they the people and places that are best suited for helping you reach your spiritual goals? If not, you need to make the necessary changes to your life. It might seem odd to think that a person or even a place could keep you from your spiritual goals, but it is more than possible. A recovering alcoholic should not be spending their time in bars or with friends who want to do nothing but sit around and drink all afternoon. In the same way, you need to protect yourself from the people, places and habits that would come between you and your attempt at deepening your relationship with God.
Here is an unfortunate reality check. Achieving your goals is never going to be easy, regardless of what sort of goal you have set for yourself. Nothing that is worth getting is likely to be easily gained, and your spiritual goals are no different. If you set a goal to learn a new language, you can expect long hours of hard work and frustration while you try to impress the new names of objects on your brain and train your tongue to curl around unfamiliar syllables.
Spiritual goals are not going to be easily achieved simply because they are spiritual in nature. You are still going to have to show up and go after your goal. You are going to have to deal with setbacks, unexpected obstacles and the inevitable loss of motivation. If you start working toward your goal with the knowledge that you will run into difficulties and the determination to push through them, you will be far more likely to reach your goal than if you are baffled by the first road block.
Celebrate the Little Victories
You know things are going to be difficult sometimes while you are working toward your goal. Those inevitable obstacles, however, are all the more reason to celebrate the little victories you manage to win along the way toward your larger goal. Congratulating yourself on meeting smaller milestones as you pursue your overall goal will help you to stay on track and remain motivated. Each little celebration will remind you why you are still working toward your larger goal and help you remain positive by showing you how far you have already come. When you are working toward a large goal, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Celebrating small successes and little victories, however, can help you keep your progress in perspective and remind you to keep moving forward. After all, you have already made great progress and as Mick Kremling said, “You didn’t come this far to only come this far.” Celebrate the successes you have already gained and then keep moving forward.
Every Christian wants to improve their spiritual life, but not everyone knows what it takes to push through and really achieve your spiritual goals. It may seem odd, but using traditional goal-setting methods to set and work toward your spiritual goals is actually one of the best ways to reach them. After all, traditional goal setting methods help you reach mundane goals under your own power. How much more effective will those methods be when you are striving toward divine goals with the help of God Himself?