Photographer: Matthieu Hoarau.
It's that time of the year again: new year, new me; new year's resolutions; new diaries and notebooks to set new goals (or renew last year's unachieved ones). No matter how much we try and avoid it, the beginning of a new year is characterised by collective and individual desires to set out whatever plans and goals we can to make the year ahead better than the last.
Whilst people tend to roll their eyes and scoff at the predictability of this routine; it is essential. Proverbs 21:5 says "The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty". Proverbs 24:27 also says, "Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that, build your house". This verse lets us know the importance of setting goals and outlining plans for the year ahead. It helps to keep us focused where we may get distracted, allows us to measure and prepare the resources we may need, and it enables us to hold ourselves accountable for how we spend our time and provision throughout the year.
Because we already know that goal setting is great, perhaps a more important question is how we should go about setting our goals, or whether we should be setting our own goals ourselves. At first, the answer seems obvious – after all, who else will set my own goals except me? But if there's one thing 2020 has taught us, it's no matter how intricate our plans are, nothing can be conclusively predicted, and anything can be expected. The truth is, for us to set appropriate, achievable goals, we would have to have an all-encompassing and foreseeing knowledge that is far beyond the capacities of our human minds.
Thankfully, we do not have to rely on our human minds; in fact, Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to not lean on our own understanding, but instead put all our trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him in all that we do, and He will make our paths straight. Similarly, Proverbs 16:9 tells us "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps", and Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand". So whilst we are encouraged to set goals and make plans, it is important to remember we cannot do it without the Lord because He is the one who establishes them and it is His purpose that will always stand. But the fantastic thing is the Lord has plans and purposes for every one of us as Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, and therefore any goals set outside of His plans for us are futile or even dangerous. Proverbs 29:18 (TPT) puts it this way:
"When there is no clear prophetic vision, people quickly wander astray. But when you follow the revelation of the Word, heaven's bliss fills your soul".
So, in setting our goals for the year, we should not assume to do it independently. But instead, we should diligently seek the Father's will and commit all our ways to Him, and not only will He give us what to plan and desire in our hearts (Psalm 34:7), but even where we may get it wrong, He will always be there to mend and straighten our ways (Isaiah 45:2).
Words by Annette Tony-Fadipe