How to Set Spiritual Goals

I’ve got a book with all of my goals in it.

Many of them never happen.

If you’re part of the humanus collectivus, you probably don’t find this surprising, as a list of your goals betrays the same results.

Or maybe you have no goals at all because that nagging voice in the back of your mind says, “Why bother?” As an omnivorous reader I flit about from books about Robin Williams, to the Earthsea Trilogy, to Atomic Habits. The latter is written by James Clear, who suffered a severe head injury and through a system of retraining his brain learned to regain the full functions of his brain and body. In the book he makes the following statement, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals, but to the effectiveness of our systems.”

You see, having goals means nothing. I mean, you need them, but they won’t bridge the span between intentions and results. More often than not, people with lofty goals fail to meet them because their processes or systems of taking steps to reach them are what is truly flawed. Today I want to talk about spiritual goals and the systems by which you get there.

In the 1700s John Wesley and a small group of divinity students at Christchurch, Oxford became known as “Methodists”. This was a mocking term given to the students who met in the self-titled “Holy Club”. The members had a method for “growing in grace” or making spiritual progress. Think of it as a “Crossfit” for the soul. The members would cheer each other on and hold each other accountable. They vowed to meet for prayer and bible study, and conversations about spiritual things. They also ate communion once a week, and committed to visiting the local prison and helping the poor.

You might laugh at such a group, but there was something beautiful in the early Methodists gathering together because they wanted to grow in grace.

If you’re not making goals, or incorporating systems it’s usually because of one of the following reasons:

  1. You’re satisfied with where you are
  2. You’re discouraged from even trying and don’t think it will work
  3. You know it will be a lot of work, and the change just doesn’t seem worth the commitment. 

I’ve been in all three rooms, and sometimes even ducked back and forth between them with no rhyme or reason. There is a step-by-step process necessary for changing any behavior. When it comes to spiritual goals, maybe you struggle to read the bible, pray, share your faith, or worship. If it’s reading the bible, I’d suggest you download the “Through the Word” app and use it right away. For ten minutes a day or less, you can get a chapter summary from some of the best teachers on the planet.

You’re welcome.

For me personally, worshipping regularly on my own is a struggle. I am not what you would call a “natural worshipper”…not since the fall of Adam anyways. I love to read, so I grow by leaps and bounds that way, but worship comes difficult to me. Chalk it up to temperament, where I always want to be doing something, or achieving something. But worshipping is surrendering. It’s stopping in your tracks and celebrating the worth of Christ, the authority of the Father, and the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

I want to grow in the areas my life feels deficient in. Therefore, I make goals, and set processes in motion.

My goal in 2021 is to sing to God once per day. It doesn’t matter what song I sing. It needs to be a moment to pause and reflect in worship, prostrating my soul before my creator, savior, and guide. I have other goals, and other processes that work for me in the spiritual department. Do you know what the good news is? They change every year. This is because some of them hit the mark, and I change. The process works. The goals are met. I grow. The secret I’ve learned from reading Atomic Habits is to start small and change incrementally.

I’m still learning.

If you were to make spiritual goals, what would they be?

Leave a Comment