Many Christians believe that pursuing our goals goes against certain Christian beliefs and counteracts God’s plan for us. On the contrary – The scriptures encourage us to pursue our goals and achieve success.
Consider these passages from the Bible:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
1 Chronicles 4:10 “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
The Promise of God
In Jeremiah, God tells you there is a plan for you: a wonderful and unique plan. It’s a plan for success and joy. While that verse is written to Israel regarding their specific situation, He has a plan for all of us as His chosen people. His plan for you was put into place as He formed you in the womb: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16 (NLT) Paul speaks of how God’s plan for you is good: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) And he confirms that God’s plans for you are not only good but pleasing and perfect in Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
After reading all those scriptures, you have to ask yourself, “where did God plant that plan?” In your heart, of course! God has given you the desire to succeed in His plan for you and manifest His work in this world.
The question is, “How do I find that plan?”
Since God planted the plan in your heart, look in your heart. Look prayerfully and carefully. Ask God to give you ears to hear what the His Spirit has planted in your heart. It is easy to listen to what we want according to our flesh rather than His good, pleasing and perfect will. I had a man in our ministry that always had all these grand plans that he felt God was giving him. None of them ever came to pass. Nor were they confirmed by his gifts, talents, or abilities – His God-given makeup. One day in our conversations, I told him to consider that he may have a “hearing problem.” In other words, in His prayer life that He may not be truly listening to God but to self. Several years later, as his life went in directions he had never dreamed of, he came to me and reminded me of that comment. He said, “you were right; I had a hearing problem. I wasn’t listening to God.” That can happen to any of us. “God give us ears to hear what the Spirit is saying.”
This is not something you are just dreaming up for selfish reasons. Consider James warning about doing this for ourselves: “Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:13–17 (NLT)
Try these strategies to discover this plan:
What is your passion? Your passion holds the dreams which God planted in your heart. Follow your passion. When you are living in God’s plan for you, it is the safest place to live. It is the most fulfilling and satisfying life that you could ever imagine. It may not be the most profitable financially or what the world would look at and consider success. But it is life in you and your days!
Are you pushing it away? Is something lingering in your mind you're trying to avoid? Could you bring it to the forefront? Look at it. This may contain God's plan for you that your ego wants to avoid. Your ego is that part of you that wants your will, not God's. This is where James’ warning comes in not to be “boasting in our own pretentious plans.”
Always ask, "What then?" Ask yourself, “Once I achieve that goal, what then would God want?” Keep asking "what then" until you have this profound confirmation from God that says, "That's it. That's the ultimate plan for my life." The path to get there may not be clear, but you know the direction He is leading. And as you follow His plan, “through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
Trust in God's Promise
God's not going to give you the entire plan at once. After all, you might get scared if you discover all that God wants you to do and how He wants to use you. Especially when you begin to see the investment in time and energy, perhaps even the stretching of your faith to get to where He is leading you. He is such a gracious God that He shows us what we need to do next rather than all that is coming. Think about it; if you knew every difficulty you might encounter as you set off on vacation, you might not even leave the house.
Because of this, we often feel that God doesn't seem to write or direct us with straight lines. It looks like the path may meander about. This is especially true the more you interject your own will. God then re-writes the way, and you're set again, heading toward the destination He had in mind from the beginning.
The key is trusting that God has everything in hand, even when you can't see more than 10 feet in front of you. You often look back at those moments and see that your faith in Him grew the most. After all, this is a journey of faith.
The Prayer of Jabez
The prayer of Jabez is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10. “He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.” (NLT) While we don’t know a lot about Jabez, we see this short and to-the-point extraordinary, powerful prayer. And we see that God granted his request.
Once you know the direction you're going, even if you only know the first step or two, let God know you're ready. Let Him know you are willing and want His plans to come to pass in your life. Tell him that you are giving yourself to Him as a “living sacrifice” in worship, as Paul speaks about in Romans 12:2.
Consider these thoughts found in the prayer of Jabez:
1. Jabez asked God to "bless me and expand my territory." You can ask God to:
Bless you with the wisdom, knowledge, and resources needed to accomplish His plan for you.
Bless your ministry or business, so it expands in every way according to God's will for you.
Bless your relationships so that they would honor Him and that you would always grow closer to Him and others.
2. Then Jabez requested, "Please be with me in all that I do…"
Jesus promised: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NLT) Thank Him for that truth. Ask Him to guide and direct you, inspire you, and let you know each next step.
Tell God that you'll listen to His messages to you. Stay in communication with God through prayer and His Word. He will never lead you in a direction against His Written Word.
3. Lastly, Jabez asked, "… keep me from all trouble and pain!”
Ask for God's protection in every area of your life - for you, your family, and your business. Jesus said it this way: “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13 (NLT) It’s not that you won’t have any problems in this life; in fact, Jesus told us the contrary to be true as you follow Him and His plan: “here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT) In all this, we can have joy and peace instead of living with a troubled soul in pain and sorrow.
Implied in your request is that your actions will be according to God's Word. Again, the words of Jesus: “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10 (NLT). There is a very different and difficult pain that comes with the choice to sin. To live a plan that is self-made, outside of God’s “good, pleasing, and perfect plan” that He has for us. We have all experienced this. God wants to spare us from continuing to live in and experience this pain and sorrow.
4. Then, you're told that God granted his request.
God promised through Jeremiah that He has plans for you: "… plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Since God is the one who created you with a plan, His plan, it makes sense that as the creator of the universe, all-powerful, almighty God, He makes a way to grant your request for His will to come to pass.
When you’re living God's plan for you and asking for His assistance, the goals you set will be according to that plan. Your goals are God's goals for you. You can crush those goals and all your future ones with His strength, guidance, and leadership.