Moving Forward in 2008
January 1, 2008
Whether it is changing a habit or setting some other goal, there are steps to follow which can help us achieve success. It is a common practice to set New Year's resolutions (change habits or set goals) which we hope will be accomplished by the end of the year. Too often we fail to take even the first step towards reaching our goals. Hopefully the following five principles will help you towards success.
The first step is to plan by thinking ahead about what you want to do and when. It helps to write down this plan and consider how to get around possible obstacles. In Luke 10: 1-11 Jesus appointed seventy of his followers to go out into the villages and preach the Gospel. He explained why they were going and how they would travel. He instructed them not to take a purse, a bag or shoes and not to greet anyone on the way. They were traveling light and were to avoid being sidetracked from their mission. He said they were to stay in one place rather than go from house to house. He expected them to eat and drink what was offered them. Finally, he warned them about the potential of people rejecting the message, and he told them what to do. The disciples returned after their mission, excited about what God had done. We see that Jesus used thorough planning, and God expects us to use prayerful, careful planning if we expect to succeed.
Secondly, you must believe that you can succeed. If you do not believe that you will succeed, you probably won't. God rewards faith. In James 1:5 we are exhorted to ask in faith without any doubting. If your goals are worthwhile and you have asked the Lord to bless your work, then you must take the risk to make the first step. You walk step by step. At first you may do only small things to reach your goal, but you will gain momentum as you move forward. God rewards action that shows we trust Him.
Next it is good to have family or friends as encouragers. When I decided to attend Bible school which was pretty far from our home, my husband made sure I got there. He helped me study and checked my papers for me. He was a great cheerleader. I was able to assist my friend who wants to become a writer by proofreading her papers and encouraging her to publish her work. Above all, as you pray about your goals, the Holy Spirit will guide you and give you strength. In his final prayer for his disciples, Jesus said that he would send the Holy Spirit to live in believers and lead them. You can count on the wisdom and encouragement of the Holy Spirit if you have accepted Christ as your Savior.
The fourth principle in your ultimate success is to reward yourself as you progress. If you accomplished a step towards your goal, tell yourself you are doing a good job because you are! I like to reward myself with extra time to read my favorite books or allow myself more time on my daily walk. Rewards will cause you to expect good outcomes, and you will be motivated to keep on working towards your goal. In this way you energize yourself.
Finally, as you strive to reach your goal, you are bound to experience failures or setbacks along the way. These things do not need to defeat you if you consider them as just part of the learning process. The Bible is full of men and women who faced discouragement, but they did not quit. In Acts 15:39 Paul argued with Barnabas about taking John Mark with them on their second missionary journey. Apparently Mark had deserted them earlier in Pamphylia. Barnabas, an encourager, took Mark and we know that Mark learned from experience. He did not quit. What a loss for us if Mark would have abandoned his goal to serve the Lord because of his previous failure! So, use failures to make you better and even more determined to succeed.
You can reach your goals through prayerful planning and believing that God will enable you. The encouragement of others and the guidance of the Holy Spirit will support you as you move forward. Acknowledge your efforts with small rewards along the way that will energize you to reach your ultimate goal. In the end you are not defeated by failures but rather you learn from them. May you have greater success than ever as you practice these principles.
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