I spent the last four months making my goals for the next few years. Normally, it would take about a month in the July/August time frame. It took this long because I had to adjust my goal process. Due to my memory problems, I just couldn’t remember my goals. And if I couldn’t remember my goals, I couldn’t make quick decisions on anything – because one of my key criteria is whether what I am deciding on will advance progress on one of my goals. If no, I don’t do it. If yes, I evaluate further with other decision criteria and give it an appropriate priority and time target.
By using my goals as a decision criteria, I can quickly and immediately filter out a lot of requests and options on the spot. It also helps me make progress on my goals as well as confirming that my goals are a key part of my life.
In the past, I had about twenty to thirty goals – four, five or more goals in each of four areas: personal, my family, my faith and my work. I used to be able to remember it all. That was no longer possible. Last year, I wrote my goals down. It didn’t work. Something had to change. That is why it took almost four months to do my goals this year.
Why July/August rather than December/January – like almost every person or organization? July and August had been our vacation time. We are more relaxed and have time to meditate deeply about things. Theses are times when there is usually no rush, no deadlines and very few other competing distractions (unlike Christmas and New Year’s). This is a time when we are open to listen and converse with God.
Also, I decided to keep my goal statements short – seven words or less – to make it easier and more likely for me to remember.
In summary, I now have ten to twelve goals: one life goal, four long-term goals (doable in three to ten years), four medium-term goals (doable in one to three years), and one to three short-term goals (doable in three to twelve months).
My long-term goals and medium-term goals are in four categories:
I have one long-term goal and one medium-term goal for each category. One each forces me to prioritize and talk to God as to what He wants. This filtering process is what takes time – but it is worth it to get clarity for myself and Winnie.
My short-term goals and tasks (doable in hours, days or weeks) support my medium-term, long-term and life goals. If they do not, I generally pass on them. If I am wrong and God wants me involved, I will either get another opportunity or I will be disciplined/corrected by Him. This surety allows me to declutter my life and focus on what is really important to me. This confidence in God frees me from other people’s expectations, gives me less stress and keeps me in God’s peace. Above all, it gives me time to really talk to God and seek first His kingdom.
I have noticed that the short-term goals and tasks that I take on usually support several, if not a vast majority, of my goals. So time to do “all” this is not an issue. It’s only when I deviate from my goals and goals process that I find myself running out of time, in stress and not in peace – which is a warning sign to get back on track with God.
My next posts on will elaborate – and by writing the goals out and by making them known, I can hold myself accountable. I believe my goals should be what is most important in my life and thus, my goals should be what I should be working on.
Note: As in the past, I will formally review these goals every four months to assess progress and future steps. If I don’t do this, the goals become just a wish list or a dropped resolution. So the timetable is nominally: July – revise/add/drop goals; early November and late March – review and determine next action steps. I use this timetable because it misses most of my possible distraction and has few deadlines. Obviously, since this years goal process was so long, the November review will not happen (unless this blog counts as a review).
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)
“Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3, ESV)
Written by Ray 2016-11-01
I do not expect to be able to fully complete this goal… but I do expect to make progress towards it every day. After all, it is a LIFE goal. All my other goals, attitudes, behaviors and actions should support this goal. If they don’t, I shouldn’t be involved with them.
“Do God’s will.” It sounds simple, even a platitude – something that sounds good and noble, but wishful. But I take it very seriously. It is actually quite hard. I have to be careful not to superimpose my desires as God’s will. I have to be careful that I carry out God’s will His way and not my way. I have to be careful to reflect God’s character in carry out His will – to represent Jesus faithfully. I have to be careful that I am hearing God and not Satan masquerading as God. But with His guidance, I have found that doing God’s will is very doable and very enjoyable, although at times, not very easy.
It could be now or some future time. Now means now. If some future time, the preparation begins now. It is God’s timing. When He say go/do, I need to be ready and willing to go/do. A good example is Joseph taking his family to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15+).
Not following God’s guidance is really disobedience. I found that His plans/ways are truly better than my plan/ways. When I try to put a personal twist to it (based on my past experience or knowledge), I usually end up regretting it. I am reminded of Moses hitting the rock instead of speaking to it to bring forth water (Numbers 20:11-12). Similar results but hitting the rock was disobedience.
Partial obedience is also disobedience. Partial obedience says I know better than God! Partial obedience says I want some control. But God wants my complete trust and loyalty. I am reminded of Pharaoh partially obeying God’s orders (Exodus 10).
Grudging compliance is not really obedience – the heart is not there (Luke 10:27). Grumbling is saying that I do not agree with God. Philippians 2:14 (NIV) says “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”. How I keep from grumbling is to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. (Philippians 4:8) This helps me to be joyful – I do not grumble, complain or argue when I have joy in God.
… to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. (John 6:38b, NLT)
Written by Ray 2016-11-01
Long-term goal: Be more like Jesus: compassion, kindness, gentleness
I can act and do compassionate, kind and gentle things. But a lot of the time, my heart isn’t there. I need the Holy Spirit to transform me from the inside out. Because of my habits and stubbornness, this transformation will take time. But God gives me many opportunities to develop these character traits, and I am starting to recognized these opportunities when they appear.
Medium-term goal: Adjust my attitudes to my post-accident realities
This is work in progress. I have learned to be content. I have learned to be patient. I have started to adjust my habits in order to lessen my frustration level. This modified goal process is one of those adjustments. But I have to modify almost 60 years of habits. It will take time.
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6 NIV)
Written by Ray 2016-11-02
Long-term goal: Use my wealth and skills for Kingdom purposes
We dedicated a portion to God ten years ago. Last year, we decided to dedicate everything we have. This requires a huge attitude adjustment for both of us. It is no longer ours, but His. It was always His. But now we are acknowledging it. The attitude change is the hardest part – because the inside is hidden and because that is where the real transformation is taking place. The Holy Sprit has been working on me and I can see the difference in my thinking and behavior.
Medium-term goal: Maximize my taxable IRA’s for Kingdom purposes
This is a major component of my long-term goal above. This represented over 90% of our liquid assets. We have already put to Kingdom uses (mostly supporting mission and outreach organizations) over half of what we had in the IRAs three years ago. But our investments have increased so that we almost have the same mount to use for Kingdom purposes. So the work continues.
Note: Just giving it away would be easy but it would be doing it may way. I need to do it God’s way which means talking to Him about the how, who and when of giving.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:23, ESV)
Written by Ray 2016-11-02
Long-term goal: Teach, monitor, adjust and incrementally let go
How to do this? To let go without abandoning. To stay connected but not controlling. What is the right balance? He will teach me if I listen and obey.
At ICC, He has shown me that I can reach out to others to get help and feedback. This is a big change for me. In the past, I would have done it all myself – I was independent, I prided myself on it. With this goal, interdependence and community is more important that individualism. It’s about helping others reach their God-given potential, not others helping me reach my potential.
Medium-term goal: Develop our blog as a discipleship tool.
I started this blog as a journal and memory tool for me – to help me remember the important stuff I have learned. Over time, it has morphed into a testimony and teaching tool. People I have met here in China, ask me about my accident and about what my thoughts are on a certain topic. I try to give them a short, concise answer and them refer them to the blog (otherwise my answers can be long and rambling).
I have used the blogs to elaborate on my teachings. I see potential. I can use the blog site to store stuff I have written in the past – to impart the wisdom I learned from God – to Winnie and my daughter. And writing the blog also forces me to dwell deeply on God’s purpose, desires and revelations for me.
Still, this is a new tool for me and I need to understand how to use it for Kingdom purposes. God will guide me.
Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. (2Timothy 2:2b, NLT) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … (Matthew 28:19a, ESV)
Written by Ray 2016-11-02
Long-term goal: Bring to “adulthood” my Hispanic & Richmond ministry involvement
We are involved in quite a few outreach or missions ministries, mostly through financial support. However, two have been long-term. We helped birth a local Hispanic ministry and helped mentor and guide the pastoral couple and their children. We also help support and grow an inner city pastoral couple and their family.
Like children that grow into teenagers and then adulthood, the process of letting go and entering a different kind of relationship is a change and can be disconcerting. Yet this is something that must happen before they reach their full potential in God. Many of the same questions I struggle with in my Discipleship long-term goal. I struggle with here.
Medium-term goal: Develop my involvement with ICC
Our current thinking is that we will be volunteering between three to six months per year – a month or two at a time. This may change. We are still praying about this. If we are doing this, things need to be set up in the next twelve months. All we know is that God has not called us to be involved full time with ICC (like what we are doing now).
This will also help make progress with my long-term discipleship goal. It will allow us to observe and evaluate how others are implementing what we taught people here at ICC and then make any needed adjustments based on feedback and observation.
… you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8. NKJV)
Written by Ray 2016-11-02