I don’t know that I am super goal oriented. But on the continuum from “Goal Driven” to “WhatEver”, I’m probably lean more G.D. than W.E. I tend to believe that if you aim for nothing that’s exactly what you’ll hit.
But, I also like to think I’m a realist. I’m all about thinking in terms of “attainable” goals. I’m not really a visionary who thinks up goals no one else has thought up. In fact, often I’ll initially set a bar low, aim for something I’m pretty sure I can hit, so that I’m not quickly discouraged but, instead, realize a quick win. And with that encouragement, push towards a greater end goal.
So, what’s got me thinking about goal setting and being goal driven this morning? The Bible. Paul in particular.
Any number of goals Paul could have set for himself. Certainly to preach the gospel to the Gentiles was a big, over-arching goal — a sporty goal in and of itself. But he could have also set a geographic goal, charting out the territory that, Lord willing, he wanted to cover. Could have set a number-of-journeys goal — like maybe three. He could have set church maturity goals, compelling him to return to the new churches that had formed in his gospel-preaching wake and making sure there was qualified, mature leadership in place to shepherd each group of believers. (And, I’m pretty sure he set a goal simply to survive preaching the gospel to the Gentiles until the Lord was ready to call him home.)
You get the idea. A lot of worthy goals Paul could have articulated. A lot of ambitious (for the right reason) and compelling goals that would have driven him to continue doing what he was doing.
But this morning it’s a goal Paul conveys to the Galatians that has me thinking. One audacious objective that I’m chewing on.
. . . my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
(Galatians 4:19-20 ESV)
More than the number of trips to be made, the number of places to be preached, the number of churches to be established, or the number elders to be identified, Paul was driven to see each believer who came to faith under his gospel preaching have Christ formed in them. Talk about your “stretch goal.”
The anguish of childbirth!?! Never had a baby, but been present for five births. No thanks. Is that really how important this goal was to Paul? To endure an inner anguish of increasingly greater soul-cramping contractions, as he longed for those who said they believed in Christ to actually live lives that reflected Christ? Evidently.
Christ formed in you. Morphoo in the Greek. Looks like a root for metamorphosis to me. A changing from the inside out. A re-fashioning into a different form. A transforming from something immature to the fullness for which it was born. Paul wanted to see born again babes in Christ eventually take on the fullness and likeness of Christ. And that, for the glory of Christ. So, apparently being somewhat of a goal driven type of guy, he would labor, even labor in childbirth, to do his part, that the Spirit might work His part, towards that end.
Christ formed in you. Big ask. But just how our God rolls. One of His goals, as well.
Maybe it should be one of my goals, too.
By His grace. For His glory.