Another year has begun. By the time you read this, we will likely be into the second month of the year, 1/12th of it history and non-reclaimable. Were you proactive as you approached the new year or merely reactive?
Proactive means to have vision and to plan, to set goals and to work toward those goals. Did you set any spiritual goals for the year? To many believers, that smacks of the flesh: planning, working, and attaining some personally envisioned destination. What can be achieved spiritually by fleshly endeavors?
However, the Apostle Paul would differ with you. He had goals. He had spiritual goals for his own life. He tells us of them in Philippians 3:12-14. He pressed on toward the mark; he was bearing down on the finish line. He had goals for his service. In Romans 15, he reveals that he had a goal to bring the gospel to Rome and then to Spain. He had goals for younger men whom he mentored, such as Timothy and Titus. Of course, all was subject to the will of God; but he still had goals which he submitted to that will.
Ezra had goals: to learn, to do and teach the Word of God (Ezra 7:10). No doubt he invested countless hours to achieve his goal.
We have the choice of living and reacting to circumstances and situations; in their absence, if God does not shake our world, we are neither reactive nor proactive but inactive. When we merely react to circumstances and events, we are able to make some spiritual progress, but without an overarching goal, what philosophers call a meta-narrative, we may not know how those events are meant to shape us, where they fit into our lives.
As individual believers we should have goals for our lives and plans to implement those goals. Those goals will involve our individual spiritual lives, our study habits, and our ministry for the Lord. Is there an epistle you have set as a goal to study over the next month? Is there a work for the Lord that you plan to accomplish with His guidance this year?
As shepherds, we need to be proactive. What ministry or teaching does the assembly need in the year ahead? How long has it been since a soul has been saved through gospel efforts? Do we need to become more active in gospel work or children’s work? Are there individual believers who need to be mentored, helped, and strengthened? What goals do we have for the assembly for the coming year? To be proactive will mean commitment and time, labor and involvement.
If we are proactive, living with a major goal and subsidiary goals, we can take the circumstances and crises of life and see them as God’s assists toward the goals we have. Only when we have goals do we have even the faintest hope of being able to say, “I have finished my course” (2Tim 4:7, KJV).
Individually and collectively, we need to evaluate, establish, and execute goals for spiritual progress and growth.