Tag: Relationship with God

7 Signs That Your Goal Has become an Idol

 

Since the day my Varsity volleyball coach asked us to list three goals for the season, I’ve been drawn to goal-setting and the process of pushing aside everything that could possibly obstruct me from reaching my goal. I’ve been the live-with-all-your-heart type, and whether we’re talking about my career, my hobbies, or my creative pursuits, I don’t like doing anything half-way or half-heartedly.

But what happens when the goal you wrote at the top of the list becomes an idol?

It happens. Whether it’s the goal of running a sub-five-minute mile, climbing to the top of the corporate ladder in any given company, or losing ten pounds, it’s all too easy for a healthy goal to become an unhealthy idol.

Here are just a few indicators that the goal you’re chasing might just be an idol:

  1. You think about it in an almost constant undercurrent of subconscious thought.
  2. You sacrifice significant amounts of time with the people you love in your pursuit of your goal.
  3. The people you love become disgruntled with the pursuit of your goal.
  4. You begin to feel angry, anxious, or stressed when it seems it’s taking too long or you’re being hindered in some way.
  5. You feel like your heart’s been torn in two when you encounter a major setback.
  6. Your goal is mostly about you and makes little positive impact on the people in your life.
  7. Your goal has very little to do with loving God or loving other people.

I’ve made idols of all sorts of goals. What starts as a God-given incentive to join him in what he is doing becomes a self-centered imperative to make much of my own life.  Throughout the course of my life, I’ve made idols of the decorations on the living room wall, running, comfort, collecting things, dieting, perfect grades, state and district titles in athletics, creative lesson plans, and much more.

So what are we to do when we realize we’ve turned our goals to idols that are sucking the energy, spark, and focus from our lives?

In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul writes:

And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play…Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:7,14 (NKJV)

We’re called to flee from the idols set up in our lives. But how do you flee when your idol is something you’re forced to face every day?  How do you flee when your idol is your job, your house, your child, or your wardrobe?

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5 (NASB)

Casting down our idols begins in the mind. To stop the cycle of perseverating over a thought, idea, object, or pursuit, we replace the incessant thoughts with the truth of God’s Word.  We take our thoughts captive and focus on our first two callings in life: Loving God and loving others (Luke 10:27, my paraphrase).  If a thought doesn’t lead us to greater love for God and greater love for others, if it doesn’t honor Christ, we take it captive and replace it.

There’s a common phrase in our culture that tells us we need to “let go” of thoughts that aren’t obedient to Christ, but 2 Corinthians 10:5 speaks a different word of advice: “we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

We’re called to take our thoughts captive, ask where they came from, and closely examine them by shining the light of truth upon them.

Here are some Words of truth to replace the idolatrous thoughts that encumber many of us:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8 NASB)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)

let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB)

 

Casting down idolatrous goals doesn’t mean we stop setting goals altogether. God is a God of order, organization, and kingdom purposes.  When we join him in what he is doing, setting goals is healthy and reasonable.  It’s simply up to us to remain alert and ensure that our goals don’t start to carry more weight than they should.

How to set goals, honor God, and live by faith without making your goals idols

God’s Desire for Communion

“The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.” – Francis Chan

The curtains wave in the breeze, and a dozen songbirds chatter on the lawn. I sit with iced tea and a craving for something I can’t quite name.  It’s quiet time at our house – a designated hour of rest and silence.  Caleb sleeps.  Bekah plays quietly in her room, and I gaze into a long list of goals to achieve by the end of the week.

Francis Chan speaks through the computer screen. There’s a tent on the stage where he stands before a crowd – a red and white camping tent: a modern-day illustration of the place Moses once went to meet face-to-face with the Creator of the world.  Francis speaks of the awe with which God’s people once approached him – how God spoke through thunder, lightning, and fire.  He speaks of reverence and glory.

He says: “And what’s crazy to me is nowadays how we treat this time with God as ordinary or even burdensome – to where we try to squeeze in like five minutes at the end of our day, like I gotta try to get some time with him . . . I feel guilty ‘cause I only got like two or three minutes . . . And now it’s like a burden, and we have pastors that beg us . . . just give him a few minutes –  just try, please, please.”

I think of our morning: me with coffee, racing through the daily Scripture reading, while Caleb murmured on the monitor. Just trying to get it done.  I think of last evening: a chapter before bed, but my eyes glazing over and sleep settling in before I absorbed a single word.  I think of all the times it feels more like one more chore on a long list than the greatest honor a human could ever receive: The Creator of the universe wants to meet with me.

And here I am giving him six minutes and checking it off the list. Six distracted minutes.  Six minutes that were more about finding direction for my day and getting my needs met than actually connecting with his heart.

What if every time I opened my Bible, I actually expected God to speak to me? Doesn’t he?  Isn’t there a promise that every verse is God-breathed?  Isn’t there a promise that no word from this book will ever return empty?

I put down the list of tasks and silence the sermon from Francis. I open the Bible and expect God to speak.  I read:

And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him. . .  these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. (Psalm 56:6-7)

If I bind myself to the Lord, he will bring me joy. If I keep seeking, pursuing, and attending to him, he will bring me to his holy mountain.  If I draw near to him, he will draw near to me.

I sit with the Book and the curtain and the songbirds. I don’t cross even one task off the to-do list.  And somehow, when the quiet hour ends, it feels like I’ve accomplished the very best thing.

~~~

 

For practical suggestions on growing in relationship with the Lord, enter your email to receive the free print out in your inbox: 10 Ways to Go Deeper with God.

 

Francis Chan, “Entering the Presence of God,” April 10, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdtNkjR-wFs

 

 

Four Lessons from the Woman at the Well

The dust from the road sticks to the roof of her mouth as she forces her feet to carry her heavy jar just a few more steps. The reprieve of a cool drink of water awaits her at the well, and her motivation for continuing forward is the satiation of her thirst.

She glances up and sees him sitting there, right beside the well – a Jew.

She thinks little of his presence. Jews don’t associate with Samaritans. She’ll simply draw her water and be on her way.

“Will you give me a drink?” he startles her with the question, and she studies him for some sign of ill-intent or misaligned motive. She doesn’t trust Jews, and she really doesn’t trust men. Men have only let her down.

To read the rest of this post, join me at Live Nourished.