Goal-Setting Isn’t Just For Grown-Ups!

This past Sunday, I taught in our family venue service about Goal Setting. I don’t really remember anyone ever taking the time to explain how to set goals and see them through when I was an elementary school student. However, I believe that kids are never too young to learn big things and so I wanted to dive in to this subject as we collectively kiss 2020 goodbye (with our masks on of course).

As I set out writing and planning my sermon, it was a little harder than I anticipated. I wanted to convey to the children the difference between a “New Year’s Resolution” and a “Goal”. But when I went to define that, I hesitated. “What’s the difference?” I imagined a third grader asking after being called upon. I came to the conclusion that a resolution is a goal without any true planning. It’s like a hope that we don’t really plan for or that we begin with only our self-discipline but realize pretty quickly, self-discipline alone isn’t enough to attain what we wanted.

I told the story about the time when I was the kitchen manager at Chick-fil-A for a year or so. One of my responsibilities was to plan and chart the food prep needs for the entire day based on sales records and trends. At that time, we had 5 types of salads (and at Chick-fil-A, all salads are prepared fresh and individually, not shipped in). It took a lot of work to prepare salads. In January of that year, I made 40 of each type of salad (200 total). Around 3pm, I checked the inventory and there was no way the store would have enough salads to get them through the night. New Year’s Resolutions in full gear! By the end of that year, in December, we were able to make 10 of each salad (50 total) and make it through the entire day. What happened? People’s willpower and self-discipline slowly wane and once you get off the train, it’s that much harder to get back on!

So a goal is a resolution with legs and feet.  Sure, you can wander away from a goal or take a step back or lose momentum, but if you’ve done the hard work of planning how you will achieve your goal, it’s easier to get back in step and keep walking.

We checked out God’s Word to see what God tells us about goal-setting. Some people think goal-setting is selfish and an “all about me” kind of activity. But I disagree. I believe that God wants us to achieve our goals, especially when they become a means of godly transformation. God wants us to take care of our bodies. He wants us to be wise with our money. He wants us to be emotionally and mentally healthy. Kept in check, goal-setting can be godly. 1 Kings 6 tells us of King Solomon’s desire to build a house of worship for God. He looks out on the land and realizes that the people worship God in a tent while they all live in houses made of stone and brick. He ponders what this means about their relationship with God. How could they give themselves better than what they had given God? So Solomon tells God what his plans were; God reminds Solomon that He doesn’t need or require more than a tent; but in the end, God allows Solomon to dream, plan and achieve his goal. The details we read in the passage cover everything from how tall the temple would be, to how long, to how many rooms and their sizes, to what the floor, walls, ceiling, doors, pillars and altars would be made out of and how many supplies were needed. In the end, it took seven years for Solomon’s goal to be accomplished. I have a feeling Solomon needed more than willpower and self-discipline to see his desires become accomplishments.

While we didn’t have time to get into the specifics like S.M.A.R.T goal planning (go look it up on Google if you don’t know what the acronym stands for) we did discuss that there’s different categories in which to set a goal. It can be Physical, Social, School, Spiritual or Financial. For adults, I think we can add in there: Career, Family, Mental/Emotional, and more. We gave examples of what might be included in a Physical Goal, like trying out for a new sport we’ve never done before, or wanting to complete a running challenge, or even drinking more water. Social goals can include intentionally making a new friend at school or church, committing to call a grandparent once a month, or write a card/letter to a different adult who cares about you each month. Spiritual goals of reading through the Bible in a year or learning different ways to pray and Financial goals that help us to save money, begin tithing and giving offerings, or even donating to causes that we care about instead of just using birthday, Christmas and allowance money to be eaten up by toys.

We gave out a worksheet packet and gave time for parents to help their children think of ONE goal they could set out to accomplish in the year 2021. We encouraged parents to let their child pick the goal, rather than the parent dictating what it should be as that would help the child really invest in and own their goal.

So, parents, how will you help your children begin goal setting this year? Is this a new concept for you or do you already set family and individual goals? Would you be willing to share your goal or your child’s goal for 2021 in the comments? I’d love to hear from you!

Here are just a few of my goals this year:

  • School: complete my academic research and begin my group study for my doctorate
  • Family: be more intentional about sending birthday cards to my nieces and nephews on time
  • Financial: finish paying off my remaining credit card debts
  • Spiritual: set aside time for personal study each day; study a different person from the Bible each month
  • Physical: continue training for my second degree black-belt and complete my qualifier in October; decrease the amount of Dr Pepper and increase water
  • Reading: complete one book each month; increase books read for pure pleasure instead of letting school books take over

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