There’s nothing like an approaching new year for bringing out our best aspirations. Somehow everything seems doable when it’s a week away and written under a “Goals for the New Year” heading! 

And there’s nothing like an over-committed, unreasonable list of goals for deflating the very enthusiasm with which we made those goals. 

So how do you filter what goals to set? What goals should receive your focus, energy, and determination; and what goals should be set aside for a someday-maybe list? 

The answer definitely includes prayer and seeking God’s direction. But there are two questions that are helpful in this process:

1. What are my God-given roles?

Your roles represent God’s calling for your life. They are the spheres of responsibility He has given to you. They are how you answer the question, “Who am I?”

When I recently reevaluated and wrote out my roles, here is what I wrote: 

  1. Man of God 
  2. Husband 
  3. Father/Grandfather 
  4. Preacher 
  5. Pastor 
  6. College president  
  7. Equipper/author  

Your roles are likely completely different. That’s because God has given you a different calling. 

But the important thing is that you identify your calling. Otherwise, you are likely to reach for goals that don’t align with the calling God has given you, and you will find yourself frustrated—and probably fruitless in the areas where God has called you—in the process. 

2. What Does God want me to do with these roles this year? 

Instead of using the new year to write down and overwhelm yourself with all of your greatest aspirations, why not use it as a time to carefully and prayerfully evaluate where you need to grow in the roles God has already given to you? 

I love the week between Christmas and New Years for this very process. It’s usually a slower week with less on my calendar, and I spend some time praying through my list of roles and writing specific goals by each.

(This method of filtering goals is so helpful to me that I use it as a filter for my weekly to-do list as well. The Stewarding Life Planner I developed is structured around this weekly approach.) 

The number one role in my life is “Man of God.” This includes everything related to my relationship with God. My identity is found in Christ, and this is the central role of my life. Because of that, I make sure that I set specific goals for growth in my relationship with God—time in His Word and prayer and other spiritual disciplines.

My next most important role is my relationship with Terrie. We celebrated forty-one years of marriage yesterday/ Our marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts to me, and it is also a responsibility that I am to steward. So when I set my annual goals, I include things related to strengthening our marriage and spending time together. 

I won’t go through the rest of my roles because they are different than yours. But I would encourage you to write out your roles and then structure your goals for the new year around them.

It is amazing the clarity that comes as you filter your goals through the roles God has placed into your life. 

Faithful Is He

One of the best reasons for structuring your new year’s goals around your roles is that it draws your focus back to fulfilling God’s calling for your life. 

If we spend our years chasing significance by achievement, we might accomplish amazing feats, but they will be as empty as human effort is. 

But if we invest our years in the diligent pursuit of obeying of God’s calling on our lives, we’ll bring glory to Him and be able to rest in His faithfulness. 

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

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