Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that …” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. You ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” JAMES 4:13-17

Few things in life are accomplished by accident, which is why it’s important for us to set specific goals. However, in our planning, we should always seek the Lord’s guidance and not simply aim for our own earthly ambitions.

Whenever a new goal comes to mind, we should consider whether it is in line with God’s will. Some topics may be scripturally clear, but many are not, so we must also examine our motives. Are we seeking to please God or ourselves? Are we pursuing money, power, or self-advancement without considering its pitfalls (1 Timothy 6:9-10)? Does a desire for holiness and God’s glory influence our plans?

What’s more, we must hold our goals loosely in case God, in His providence, changes them. As Christians, we are servants of Christ and should readily yield to Him. So if our plans are upended, we must ultimately trust the Lord’s goodness, omniscience, and wisdom because He alone knows the best path for us.

When our personal goals align with God's will, we can expect meaningful results.

Think and pray
Remember, the Lord is much more interested in your spiritual growth than in your temporal success. If your goals are truly of God, they will advance your maturity as a Christian. Evaluate them honestly, with a willingness to let them go.

Father, I pray that this new year will see a richer, more consistent and intimate walk with You. Bring people into my life to help me grow in understanding and live according to Your word. Show me also whom I should come alongside to encourage in their faith. Be glorified in my life. Amen.

In Touch Ministries is the teaching ministry of Dr. Charles Stanley and is dedicated to leading people worldwide into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and strengthening the local church. This post first appeared on intouch.org. Used with permission.