When I was 14 my father bought me a 12-gauge shotgun for Christmas. A few days later we were up north at our cottage. My dad taught me to load and clean the gun and then said to me, “Let’s go for a walk.” After walking maybe a quarter mile down our rough dirt road, my dad stopped, turned to me and said, “Ok, shoot.” I did not see anything worth shooting, so I was confused, so I questioned, “At what?”  Sensing my confusion, he smiled and said, “Remember, if you don’t know what you are aiming for in life, you’ll never accomplish it.” He paused long enough for me to take that in and then he continued, “Pick a target.” I quickly pointed at a tree branch 10 yards away. Shouldered the gun and promptly turned that branch into kindling.

I learned as a teenager that when there is no target there is no purpose in shooting.

I love the Charlie Brown cartoon where Charlie is shooting arrows into a fence and then going over and painting a bull’s eye around each arrow. When Lucy sees what he is doing, she exclaims, “That’s not the way to do it!” To which Charlie replies, “It’s the only way I can hit the target.”

When you claim you’ve hit the target after you shot, there’s not much to it. However, if we pick our target in advance, and then claim the objective is to hit the bullseye, that changes everything. There’s no challenge, no accomplishment in shooting. The challenge and accomplishment is in hitting a target. The target allows us to measure our ability. The target reveals any progress we’ve made in improving our skills and accomplishing the goal. The target gives us purpose.

That’s what setting a goal does for us.  It allows us to measure our ability, reveal if we are making any progress, and gives purpose to our work and our relationships.

Jesus has given us life. And He’s given us guidelines for living that life. As we walk through life with Him, we need to clarify, “Lord what would you have me to do?” And in that question lays the need for goals – a target.

Everybody in this world has a different set of circumstances, different set of skills, and different sets experiences. He has created each of us to be unique. We each are walking a different path that leads to Him. And in our uniqueness He has provided for each of us different sets of opportunities through which we can walk His path. He has us interacting with the world around us to build us and shape us into His image for us, and in this way leading us to find His unique sense of fulfillment for us.

Our mission in life is to figure out what our unique, “sets” are and how we live and work in ways that maximize these sets for God’s glory. In Him, in seeking His glory, our lives and efforts find purpose and meaning.  Last week we talked about how Jesus set goals. If the Teacher had goals, then we too need goals. Goals are a guiding light that help us to stay on His path and achieve God’s objectives for us.

As a mentor, I cannot walk alongside you, unless I know where God is leading you. By setting goals for your marriage, your character, your kids, your work, for every area of life… when I know where you are headed, then I can assist.  Goals focus us our aim, and hopefully motivate us to create solid measurable targets that enable us to measure our abilities, reveal the progress we are making, and finally to tell us when we have fully walked his path for us in obeying God. Goals enabled Paul to write near the end of his life, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

What goals have you set for your life? Your marriage? This year? How will you know when you’ve completed God’s assignment for you?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on setting goals.

I’m on Twitter! Follow me @PatrickLaiB4T



PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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