Should Christians Set Goals?

It shocked me to discover many Christians believe it is wrong to set goals.


The argument for this belief comes from the  book of James in the New Testament. James, the brother of Jesus, says this…

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.  James [4:13]-16

James is echoing the sentiment of this passage from the Old Testament:

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1

Do these verses teach us that setting goals is sinful arrogance? I don’t think so. In fact, I think it is our duty as Christians to set goals, and I have three strong reasons to support that assertion. We’ll get to those in a moment, but first I want to tackle this idea that Christians should not set goals at all.

People who hold this view (that goal-setting is wrong) usually offer as argument the idea that they are “free to be led by the Spirit”. They want to be sure they are “open to God’s will”. There are at least three incorrect pre-suppostions embedded within this position. If this is your belief, you are assuming:

Your “feelings” and “promptings” are the one and only infallible way of accessing God’s specific plan and will for any situation. You can only trust those feelings of yours to know when you are “in God’s will”. Hello, scary cult leader. Our emotions are important for relating to God and what He is saying, but they don’t rule over everything else. Sometimes our feelings are just inaccurate.

Even Jesus experienced this. In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, he was emotionally distressed and asked God to spare him from the horrors that lay ahead. But Jesus ultimately conceded, “Not my will but Yours.” Emotionally, he did not want to experience what was to come – but He knew it had to be done, and He did it.

The second pre-supposition those opposed to goal-setting make is that Holy Spirit only leads us spontaneously – that He never leads us to make plans. That is simply not supported by scripture. Paul made plans (Romans [1:13]). The early Apostles made plans ( Acts 6:1-3). Jesus made plans (Matthew 10:5-15).

Finally, those holding the “no goal-setting” view are disregarding the fact that we can also hear the voice of the Holy Spirit though God’s written word. The Bible makes it clear that we can receive fresh revelation from god through his written word ( Matthew 4:4, 2 Timothy [3:15]-17).

3 Reasons Why Christians Should Set Goals

According to the ancient wisdom of the Proverbs, the wise business man will set goals and prepare for the future. In fact, in Proverbs 6 the author calls those who refuse to plan for the future sluggards. This passage makes it clear we should value preparation: “she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”

The scripture teaches us that while the outcomes and victories belong to God, we must still plan, prepare, and perform with wisdom.

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. Proverbs [21:31]

The Lord says, ”Do not fear or be dismayed … for the battle is not yours but God’s.” 2 Chronicles [20:15]

Not only does God encourage us to make plans (set goals) he wants us to get the best advice we can to help make those plans: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs [15:22]

So was we fly into the new year, hurtling at the speed of light toward 2015, set some goals! Make plans that honor God, and set your sites high for 2015.

Simply wishing for big results is not enough! You must develop a plan, set an objective to be reached, and follow through with action.

“If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” Henry Kissinger

How I Set & Achieve Goals… And How You Can Too

I use a system – on that I just discovered last year.

And boy, does this system work! In the previous 12 months, I have eliminated over $100,000 in debt, restructured my business, and lost over 35 pounds of fat!

I have tried just about every goal-setting system or method you can name, and with varying degrees of success. Some approaches are definitely more effective than others.

Tomorrow I will share the system that revolutionized my year… and I believe it can help you do the same for your life in 2015.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at