Oliver Wendell Holmes, who lived from 1841 to 1935, is regarded as one of the greatest Supreme Court Justices of all time.
Justice Holmes was extremely intelligent, highly respected and often quoted. However, it is said that he was a bit absent-minded, as illustrated by this story.
Apparently, Justice Holmes was riding a train one day, when the railroad Conductor began walking down the car, checking tickets. As the ticket-checker approached, he watched Holmes search his wallet, unable to find his ticket. Frustrated, Holmes then checked each of his pockets. Still no ticket.
Holmes was more and more agitated with himself as he went through his briefcase, still unable to find his ticket.
Finally the Conductor made his way to Holmes’ seat.
“Justice Holmes,” he said, laughing, “I know who you are. Everyone knows who you are. There’s no need to show me your ticket.”
“No, sir, that’s not the problem,” said Justice Holmes. “The problem is that I can’t remember where I’m going.”
As we quickly approach the end of a year and face another new year, it’s good to ask, “Do we know where we’re going?”
This is typically a time to reevaluate the direction of our lives, set goals, and make New Year’s resolutions. It’s important to know where we are going. Thomas Carlyle once said, “A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.” “Without goals, and plans to reach them,” wrote Fitzhugh Dodson, “you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”
Unfortunately there are a lot of people who live their lives that way. They’ve been sold the ticket, but don’t know the destination. They are floating aimlessly on the sea of life, tossed to wherever the winds and waves take them.
Baseball great, Yogi Berra was right when he quipped, “If you don’t know where you’re going you might end up someplace else!”
The heroes of Hebrews 11 were godly people with goals. Abraham “looked for the city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God.” Moses goal was to lead Israel to Canaan. Joshua’s goal was to conquer Canaan. Daniel’s goal was to abstain from the King’s food and to pray three times a day. The goal of the apostle Paul was expressed in these words:
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14)
I know people who set goals, but don’t think about God. And I know people who serve God, but don’t think about goals. I believe they go together. Let me suggest three ways you can set godly goals.
(1) Set goals based on God’s revealed purpose for your life. The Bible tells us that God purposed our lives in Christ before the world began (Eph 1:1-14). Come to know Christ. Seek to understand God’s will. Learn what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Bible.
(2) Set goals that give glory to God. There’s nothing wrong with having personal, family and financial goals. But is God at the center of those goals? Do they honor Him? Are we seeking God’s righteousness? His Kingdom? His favor? Everything we do in life should honor our Creator. Paul wrote, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31)
(3) Set goals that bless the lives of others. God has not put us on planet earth just to eat, drink and consume resources! We’re put here to make a difference. If we’re guided by the golden rule (Matt 7:12) and motivated by the second great commandment (Matt 22:39), we will set goals that serve mankind.
As you quickly come to a close of this year and set your sights on another year, know where you’re going! Oh, and more thing. As Jim Rohn wrote, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman