“The goal is not to reinvent yourself by striving to be some perfect person but to allow God to do an extreme makeover by uncovering your true self in his image, redeemed through Christ.” Craig Groeshel – Alter Ego
It is now the start of the year 2017 and I find myself struggling with a familiar dilemma. What can I or will I do this year to top what I did the previous year. Can you relate? Have you worked really hard over the past year to improve in a particular area personally or professionally? Have you fulfilled your resolutions for the past year and are seeking to improve or break ground on new resolutions for the upcoming year. You’ve set goals and mapped out the road for accomplishing them? If this is you, I can surely relate.
Goals or goal setting surprises me as growing up I wasn’t one for setting goals nor was anyone looking to me accomplish them. I don’t say this to put anyone down as the body of work I was producing in my teen years would have led anyone to this conclusion. In thinking of the labels graduates are given or give themselves, I laugh when thinking of what mine would have been. Most likely not to succeed is what comes to mind first.
Becoming a Christian at 19 years of age, I can say that not much changed initially in the way of my goals or lack of them. Yes, Christ had saved my life and that fact was evident and undeniable. I had a passion to see anyone I came into contact with to know Christ and what he had done. But as far as my life plan, there was still a big question mark and I wasn’t sure when or where the answer would come. Often operating from a sense of what needed to be done rather than what I was made to do.
And then it happened, I found myself back in school, a place I never thought I would set foot in again. In the late 90’s IT (Information Technology) was the hot market and anyone who knew how to assign an IP address seemed to be getting a good job; something most 12 year olds can do today. Hearing of a school with a good reputation for training and employment, my mother encouraged me to investigate. It wasn’t long before I had applied, and being successful, began the start of my journey in setting and reaching goals. If I were to stop here, it would sound like just another success story but that is not the end as I have learned of a few dangers and pitfalls along the way.
Now I should start by saying that goal setting and striving to be better is a good thing, but as indicated, there are traps, if not landmines, one can step on if not careful. For me, it was the success of achieving the goals that became the problem, if not the addiction over time. I can already hear you saying “but Sean isn’t the point of setting goals to reach them” and yes, I agree that to be the point. But for me, the rush of achievement became addictive. I loved the feeling of a perceived successful family, professional life and ministry. I loved it when people would say that I couldn’t or shouldn’t do this, go here or there, build this or start that. For me it was the fuel on the fire that, looking back, was toxic and for the life of a believer can become deadly if one is not transparent. I had allowed, if not created, an idol in my life and to quote Lloyd Christmas from the movie Dumb and Dumber “I got robbed by a sweet old lady on a motorized cart. And I didn’t even see it coming”. (Emphasis Added)
When looking at all that is done under the sun the one thing we always need to consider is the motive and even more so for the life of the believer. Actions once birthed of noble intentions can quickly if not deceptively turn to self-serving without our even noticing it happened. From Samuel 15 to Psalm 51; Proverbs 21 to Hosea 6; the scriptures are full of references to the heart with which our works are done. I in particular love what Jesus says when stating the following in Matthew 12 v 7: “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”
In saying this he is referring to Hosea 6 v 6. When it comes to mercy and obedience; those things at the core of one’s heart; we are defined. Luke 6 v 45 states: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” It is this truth which sits before me now; motivating, if not imploring me to consider my motives for what lies ahead in 2017. That, what is found in Psalm 51 v 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” would be found in me.
The Apostle Paul understood this better than anyone. In his proclamation of the Gospel to King Agrippa in Acts 26 he readily admits that before he was saved he was a persecutor of Christ; a persecutor of all that was known and shown to be right and true. Without him, all his works amounted to death and it is in light of this that he was motivated to become all he could be in Christ. He sums up his motivation best in Philippians 3 v 7 – 11 when he states: “But whatever was an asset to me, I count as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, so that I may somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Wow, I couldn’t aspire to a better motivation on my best day for 2017 and the years ahead. Fulfillment isn’t found in pursuit of a goal but in pursing Christ to reach the goal. It is about a Christian being; not a Christian doing. Doing what you were made to do instead of what you have to do that joy is truly found. As stated in the quote I started this with but now modify a bit, “That we wouldn’t reinvent ourselves by striving to be some perfect person but to allow God to do an extreme makeover by uncovering our true self in his image, redeemed through Christ.” As it states in 2nd Corinthians 5 v 17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Happy New Year and God Bless