At the heart of this discussion was a certain wrestling with whether or not living by faith and setting goals were at odds with one another.
The Two Sides of Living By Faith or By a Plan
Is it too rigid of us to set goals and write out missions statements when we, as Christians, are to live by faith?
After all, Abraham, the very father of faith, set out on a journey without knowing where he was going or where he’d end up.
Is it more pleasing to God to set forth plan in this life, and stick to a certain level of discipline?
After all, Paul said that God is a God of order, and not the author of confusion.
The Struggle is Real
I do get the struggle.
My natural inclination is not to be rigid at all — quite the opposite — including taking off for Europe about 26 years ago with about $500 in my pocket and all of my worldly possessions on my back. I’ve gone on missions trips on the fly while living in Europe, and I’ve decided (in the past) to take off for a trip at a moment’s notice, without much of a plan. Before kids, of course.
Of course, I’ve also been on the other side of this struggle.
Because I am blessed with ADHD, I have learned that without a plan to shoot at, I accomplish a whole lotta nothing day in and day out. During those times when I fly by the seat of my pants, I get exactly zilch done. (Case in point — how not at all regular I’ve been on this blog while dealing with our personal family emergency that has required me to suspend the goals for a bit)
You know what I’m referring to.
Those days when your spouse finally makes it home from work, and finds you standing in the middle of the kitchen while kids are freaking out about who knows what, laundry is everywhere, the dog just piddled on the floor, there are 3x as many dirty dishes in the sink as you might imagine could be used in one 8 hour period, and you realize at that moment that you’re still wearing the clothing you slept in. Except now the clothing has lunch spilled all over it.
Why I Believe in Goals, Plans, and Missions Statements (and Faith, too)
I had to learn (through trial and error, prayer, and some therapy) that when I rise up to meet the day and decide to just see what the day brings, generally what that brings into my life is chaos in large quantities.
Not everyone experiences this. My own mom, who I wrote a bit about in my book, Beyond the Chore Chart, is very good at having a natural sense of order and frankly is baffled by my constant need for lists, goals, plans and rewards for the most mundane life activities. Our brains are wired differently, and I’ve had to come to accept that with the creativity and artsy nature also comes difficulty with the simple things in life.
For some who don’t need this sort of prodding, it may seem silly that I set goals, write out a missions statement as I wrote about earlier on this blog, or have to do lists in my bullet journal. However, for me, the way I’m wired, I’ve come to accept that it is absolutely essential to my sanity, productivity, and my ability to effectively filter out those opportunities that come up in my life.
For me anyway, setting goals, working a plan, having a missions statement all fits in far better with living by faith than simply allowing life to happen without a plan.
Walking by Faith in My Plans and Goals
Planning and living by faith need not be two contradictory things. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned in trying to walk by faith and reasonably stick to a plan in my day to day living:
1. Be Flexible in your Goals and Plans
First and foremost, when I set goals, I do so with the understanding that at any moment, life can happen, and those goals, plans and so forth may not proceed as planned. And, I have to be okay with that.
We have our plans in mind, but God sometimes throws a wrench in those plans for various reasons. Sometimes He works things out far better (from a human perspective) than we ever could do on our own, and other times things go south for a while as He works on our character development a bit more. When we were in foreclosure, I had a plan for how we were going to find affordable housing that didn’t balk at a family with five teenagers, two dogs, and three cats. God however, worked it out much better than I even dreamed.
2. Filter your plans through God’s purpose for your life
This one is huge. HUGE.
When I develop my personal missions statement, and when I set my annual goals each year, I’m not just doing what Kim wants to do here. I’m (trying to, anyway) filter my goals, dreams, plans, and mission statement through what I believe to be or know to be God’s plans and purpose for my life. This can include what I find in the Bible — there are some things I don’t have to pray about because He’s made it clear in His Word. It can also include the talents and Spiritual Gifts He’s given me, as well as what we’ve decided as a family.
One example of this is realizing that God wants us to not just be generous in some impersonal, corporate way. Those who have been a huge blessing to us during hard times were those who acted as individuals. Through our own hard times, we started to see God’s heart for those less fortunate, and it broke our hearts.
One part of our personal missions statements and our family missions statement is that, as long as we have cash enough for our necessities, we should not hesitate to be a blessing to others if an urgent need arises.
Last week, as I was checking out at the grocery store, there was a lovely couple in front of me, older folks, and they didn’t have enough for their scant groceries. As we are saving towards something in particular, I’ve been trying to stick extra cash in the bank, and have been playing a little game in my head where I try to see how much I don’t spent. I’m just that easily amused.
However, I knew what we had decided as a family. Because we know what it’s like to be in need, and we also know what it’s like to be in need with no sign of help anywhere, we have decided that one of our family mission statement points is to help anyone we can, if the occasion arises. This is a principle found in the Bible in Galatians 6, by the way.
My brain was saying, “Oh, but we were doing so good today” and the Spirit of God was saying, “There’s a reason I let you save that much cash today…someone needs it.”
The decision as to what to do in such a situation was decided when we wrote up our fresh family missions statement. Over their protests, I paid for their groceries. It wasn’t much, but it was a blessing to them and it was a blessing to me.
Later that day, hubby said he was over in the gas budget because a mama with little ones (a single mom) had rolled into the gas station on fumes and then her card wouldn’t work. She was going to put five bucks in her tank. Hubby filled it. Why? Because we already decided what God would want us to do in such a situation.
Our goals were written up with God’s purposes for our lives as our filter and guide.
3. Use These Much Prayed Over and Considered Plans to Pick the Best
All of this planning and considering God’s purpose for my life helps me because I tend to be a sucker for a good cause.Planning + considering God's purpose 4 my life helps me focus on the best vs. saying yes to… Click To Tweet
If someone asks me to volunteer to do….whatever…I’ll say, “Sure” and then kick myself later when I realize I’ve stretched myself too thin once again. Because I have lupus and fibromyalgia, this is a huge deal for me. There are things in my life that are super important to our family, and if I say yes to every good cause that asks for help, I’ll be sicker than a dog in short order, at which point, I’ll be no good to anyone.
There’s a saying that the good is the enemy of the best.
In other words, saying yes to every good cause that comes along, instead of only giving yourself 100% to those things you know for certain that God has called you to do at this moment, is not going to make you a more effective servant of Christ. It’s going to make you less effective because you’re not optimizing your talents and gifts. You’re letting good things take you away from the best things.
4. Don’t Over-Plan Your Life
For many years in stay at home mommy blogdom, there was a very popular method of time management that essentially managed everyone’s life down to 15 minute increments each day.
Yeah. This is not what I’m talking about.
I have to confess that I tried that because I love making charts (bonus points — color-coded charts, y’all!), and I love organizing even if I’m not very awesome at it. However, I got a huge dose of rebellion from everyone in the family especially my husband.
If you need to manage your life down to fifteen-minute increments, go for it.
I feel that being flexibly organized works better for me and mine. And really the heart of any good habit in life is to work out the details as they best help you. There are no hard and fast rules.I feel that being flexibly organized works better for me and mine. Click To Tweet
I have a general plan and routine for each day. I organize it around my meals because I’m all about food. :-). I have things I get done (Generally) before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner and before bed. This leaves me flexible if something comes up, while still providing structure.
Getting Started with Goals, Plans, and Missions Statements
Have I piqued your interest?
If you’re interested in getting started with goals, plans and missions statements, I encourage you to check out my post, “How to focus on what is important to you”. This will help you get started writing a personal missions statement, setting goals, and more.