The key to creating a life you love, accomplishing the right goals, and living out your purpose is simple: Be intentional. Typically, the reason we don’t reach our goals is not because we’re not capable, but because we’re not intentional. Living intentionally means doing things on purpose for a purpose. The desire to reach the end goal has to be greater than your feelings, your lack of motivation, any temporary inconvenience, and requires dying to your flesh.
For a Christian, living intentionally begins with living a life submitted to Christ. In Christ we find our identity and purpose. Knowing your purpose is key because your purpose determines your priorities. As you seek God, He will reveal your specific calling and purpose to you. However, as a follower of Jesus Christ your main purpose is to bring glory to God by loving and worshiping Him with your life – all that you are and everything that you do.
That’s where we start. Before your career, financial, and relationship goals can fall into place, you must be intentional in your relationship with God. He will guide you and give you wisdom for your decisions. As I’ve grown in my faith and worked to achieve a variety of goals, God has challenged me with three significant questions. I reflect on these daily as they’ve become a foundation for choosing my priorities and setting goals.
1. Are my goals in line with God’s will?
We think our plans should work out because we’re pursuing good things, but good doesn’t always equal God. What you want might not be a bad thing, but it might not be God’s best either. The only way to know is to seek Him. I’ve learned to lay down my to do list, goals, and timelines at the feet of Jesus and ask God to revise them as He sees fit. I ask God to remove what needs to be removed and add what needs to added. I no longer want to spend time pursuing anything that is outside of God’s will for my life. Disobedience has taught me many (many) lessons. The greatest one being that God’s will is always better than anything I could imagine.
If God’s will isn’t what you desire, then my advice is to fall in love with God again. Once you realize how perfect, good, and loving He is, you’ll begin to desire what He desires for you.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
2. What do I gain from the way I spend my time?
Time. How we spend it matters because it’s the one thing we can never get back. You may think you don’t have enough time to work towards your goals, but often that’s not the case. Like money, we spend our time on what matters the most to us. Also, like money, some of us don’t pay attention to how we spend it. When you look at the time you’ve spent throughout the week, month, and year – how does it add up? Are you better for it? Have you used it to make progress toward your goals, draw closer to God, or love others? Our time can be used selfishly or given generously. An hour a day can greatly enhance your prayer life, and serving two hours a week can show God’s love to someone and change their eternity. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have down time or relax, but realize that your time on earth has a purpose.
Take a moment and consider how much time you spend doing things that aren’t making a difference in your life, the lives of others, or in eternity, and seek God for wisdom on what to change.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
3. Have my goals become my god?
We must be careful not to idolize and worship what we’re pursuing. Don’t let the goal become your god. What does that mean? It means the goal should not take the place of God as your source of your joy, identity, worth, peace of mind, or fulfillment. Created things cannot compete with our Creator. They can be lost or destroyed in the blink on eye. Jesus is the only sure foundation; a rock for us to build our life upon (Matthew 7:24-27). If we put our hope in our achievements, we’ll crumble when we fall short. But if we are conscious to keep God in His rightful place as Lord, no failure or shortcoming will be able to shake us.
“Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Luke 6:47-48
In a world that says our value is found in what we look like, what we have, and what we do, our faith reminds us that our worth is solely based on whose we are. No matter what you’ve accomplished or failed to accomplish, you are already more valued and loved by God than you can ever imagine.
The Bottom Line
To sum it up in one sentence: The key to an intentional living is living with the end in mind.
Whatever you do, keep your eyes on the end goal – Heaven and Jesus. What is seen and experienced here on earth is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). That’s where our hope is rooted, and that’s the source our strength. Life will throw plenty of distractions and temptations your way, but by God’s power you can overcome anything that tries to hold you back from living the intentional life you were created for.