I am so happy for 2018. I love fresh starts! My calendar is new — no crossed-out appointments, no rescheduled meetings — just fresh new days and empty pages ready to be filled. I spent an afternoon getting my new planner all set for the year, adding meetings and things I knew were coming up. It’s now waiting for everything that comes my way. Hopefully, the calendar will tell a story in December of how I spent my time, energy, gifts, and strengths. I have a goal for a messy, full calendar with notes and pictures, scribbles, and ideas.
I have a presentation in my calendar for later this month, and it has me thinking about goal setting, which is a very January thing to do. I will be talking with ministry leaders about professionalism. I am looking forward to the day and thought I would share some of the message with you. First, a concept I need to break open: personal hospitality. It isn’t something we talk about much, but it is so important to our personhood — our human dignity and how we present ourselves to the world. Jesus practiced this.
Setting Time Aside
It is the time set aside for ourselves. It is prayer, discernment, reflection, struggle, dreaming, casting a vision, and sharing a bit of ourselves in community for support, accountability, and friendship. Jesus encouraged his followers to do the same — to pray, to live in community, and to be like brothers and sisters to one another.
The early Church encouraged openness — that it was a sign of love to admonish, confront, encourage, pray with, pray for, heal, forgive, and offer mercy. When intentionally practiced, they helped the early Church be a healthy place where things were transparent, all for the purpose of furthering the kingdom.
When we take time for self-care (hospitality to ourselves), we are way better at managing what comes our way in life. It doesn’t come naturally, which is too bad! We have to actually set goals in this area and work on things. So with that, we need to talk about resolutions and goals, things that drive those brand-new calendars!
Dreaming in Community
I joined a little group recently. We meet each day online to share our goals for work and life and hold each other accountable for the goals. I am not sure why I joined except that I felt that walking with some like-minded, self-employed people might encourage and inspire me. So far, it’s been hard work. We had to set five goals. They could be anything: personal, spiritual, physical, financial. These are goals rather than resolutions, mind you. Goals have measurable parts to them (deadlines, steps to follow, and now someone to answer to). I found some of the exercises difficult because I had to really think and not lose 10 pounds, write a book, travel to Europe. The goals had to be focused on something I know I should be doing, something I have been called to do but have just ignored. Ouch. Yes, I have ignored something asked of me!
So my goals have been spelled out. I have dates assigned and plans on how to get there with ways to measure success. These are not resolutions I can run from.
The process has been like purifying metal — burning the unnecessary parts off — so you can see the beauty beneath. I am hoping there is a treasure there somewhere. As a person of faith, I get to add Jesus to the mix. I know that God has my best in mind. He loves me and is growing me into the best me I can be. I need to feel it sometimes … work hard for it, make changes along the way, and, most importantly, bring things to God in prayer and share the experience with those holding me accountable. It is a human thing to do. It’s raw and rough and beautiful to find me beneath the layers of life.
Moving Forward Towards Practical Goals
I want to encourage you to do something like this:
- Find a friend to partner with and hold each other accountable.
- Pray about what it is God wants for you. What is something that keeps coming into your mind and heart? It’s a good place to start.
- Share that with your person and set some goals. If you are called to serve in the community, what does that look like? How will you take steps to make that happen? Make it measurable!
- Set a timeframe. By what date do you want to accomplish this?
No goal is too large or too small. Some of the people in my little group have goals to lose weight and get healthy. One person wants to start an online consulting company. One man wants to hike the Appalachian Trail. Others are looking to make a difference in the world and to find a way to contribute. So they have goals to volunteer, rescue dogs, mentor an immigrant family, and teach cooking at the homeless shelter. The sky is the limit.
But these goals lead us somewhere. They lead us to our Creator, to a deeper relationship with the One who made us so wonderful. They help us become the person God sees in us! I heard this quote when I was a teenager (though am not sure who said it), “God sees us as we shall be but loves us as we are.” The journey we are on is so valuable. We need accountability, we need ways to measure our progress, and, finally, we need to celebrate.
We have this one life to find our purpose and to make an imprint on the earth with our life. Things get in the way of course … our fears, past experiences, physical limitations and such. But no matter what, when we take that personal hospitality to heart, we are ready to forge ahead and make a difference! Blessings on your 2018! Go set some goals!