Robert Jeffress - If You Don't Know Where You're Going, You'll End Up Someplace Else
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Does God want you to be successful? According to the Bible, the answer is a resounding "Yes"! But we won't get to where God wants us to be without consulting a biblical road-map. In this series titled the Solomon secrets, we're discovering that road-map, that is found in the Book of Proverbs. And during today's message, we'll consult king Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, on how to live a truly successful life. My message today is titled, if you don't know where you're going, you're going to end up somewhere else on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Albert Einstein was once on a train headed to New York city. As the ticket taker came through the coach to collect the tickets, Einstein started searching his pockets: he couldn't find his ticket anywhere. The ticket taker came up to him and said: Mr. Einstein, we know you can't find your ticket. Don't worry about it, we know who you are. Don't worry. About 20 minutes later the ticket taker came back through the car and this time Einstein was on his hands and knees searching for the lost ticket. The ticket taker said: Mr. Einstein, we told you we know who you are, we trust you, don't worry about it. Einstein looked up at the ticket taker and said: son, this isn't a matter of trust, but of direction, I need the ticket because I forgot where I'm going.
What about you? Do you know where you're going in life? Are you moving right now toward your intended destination, or are you moving away from it, or are you simply sitting idle? Today as we continue our study in the Book of Proverbs, we've come to the third Solomon secret for success if you don't know where you're going, you're going to end up someplace else. Today we're going to look and see what Solomon as well as all of the biblical writers have to say about the subject of planning. If you have your Bibles turn to Proverbs 15. Proverbs 15.
If you were to close your eyes for just a moment - please don't, I don't want you falling asleep - but if you were: if you were to close your eyes and answer the question: where do I want to go in life? I'm not talking about your vacation: I'm talking about your life. Where do I want to go? Would you have a clear destination in your mind of where you want to end up in life? It's not enough to know where you want to go in life. Somebody has said: a dream without a plan is only a wish. It is important that we have a detailed plan to take us from where we are right now to where we believe God wants to take us in our finances, in our work, in our relationships, and in our spiritual life as well.
You see, we don't ever arrive anywhere by accident. Did you know the only thing that ends up at its intended destination by accident is airline luggage? The rest of us never get anyplace by accident. It takes a plan to get to where we're going because the truth is, without doing anything - listen to this - without doing anything we don't drift toward our dreams, we tend to drift away from our dreams. By simply doing nothing in your life, you will drift away from God's intended destination of your life.
You know why that is? There's a physical law called the second law of thermodynamics that says all of nature, all of creation is moving from order to disorder. There's a reason for that in the Bible. Romans 8 says this entire world system has been infected with sin. And that means the natural direction of everything in this universe is down. Things are spiraling down. It explains everything from the deterioration of your body to the deterioration of your relationships. Everything, because of sin, Romans 8:22 says, is moving downward. And that means if you do absolutely nothing, if you exert no energy whatsoever all you have to do is sit by and watch the deterioration of your body, the depletion of your financial resources, the disintegration of your family and the destruction of your soul. That all happens without any effort on your part whatsoever. If you want to reverse that trend, you have to have a plan to do so.
You know king Solomon, whose writings we're studying in this series was the wisest, wealthiest, most powerful man who ever lived: and yet he certainly understood the importance of having a plan. Now king Solomon knew where he was going in life. God had planted in his life the dream of building a temple, a magnificent place of worship for God. In fact, in 1 Kings 5:5 Solomon said this, "Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spoke to my father, David, saying, 'your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he will build the house for my name'".
Now Solomon knew what he wanted. But Solomon didn't just sit back like so many Christians today and passively say: ok, this is what I want to do, but you know what, if God wants this to happen he'll do it in his way and his time. A lot of people use spirituality as an excuse for laziness. No, Solomon didn't just say: I intend to build a house. Then he developed a plan and executed the plan to build that temple. It's important that we all have a dream. The Christian retailer James Cash Penney, J. C. Penney, once said, "Give me a stock clerk with a dream and I'll give you a great man. Give me a man without a dream and I'll give you a stock clerk".
We all need a dream in life, but a dream isn't enough. We need a plan that will take us from where we are to realize that dream in life. And I want to tell you most Christians I talk to they don't have a dream. Why is that? Why do people just walk around in a daze, in a haze without any plan for how they want to live and where they want to go in life? I found that, especially among Christians, there are four excuses that people have to developing a detailed plan for their life. Excuse number one is: what if I fail in my plan? What if I fail? I don't want to set a goal, I don't want to have a dream and then fail in that plan.
Maybe that's true of you. Maybe you're paralyzed by the thought of failure. If that's true, let me encourage you to overcome that fear in two ways. First of all, if failure is keeping you from planning ask yourself the question: how am I going to feel ten years from now if I made no progress in my life? How am I going to feel at the end of my life if I have never reached my dream in life? And secondly, keep your dreams to yourself. You know one reason we don't want to set goals and have dreams is we don't want to be embarrassed in front of other people if we don't make our dream. And a lot of times we're surrounded with people who either intentionally or even unintentionally will try to discourage us from reaching our dream.
Secondly, some people say: my objection to planning is well I've got plenty of time, there's no hurry. Or: I don't have enough time to fulfill my dream there's no use to do it. Both views of time, by the way, are erroneous. The idea that I've got plenty of time or that I don't have enough time. At the beginning of our life when we're teenagers, we think: I've got all the time in the world, what's the big hurry? Then when we're each about half-way through our lives, mid-life, we realize we have as many years behind us as we do in front of us. And when we get close to the end, we wonder where did it all go and how did it go so quickly.
That's not an original observation. Moses wrote the very same thing in Psalm 90, the oldest Psalm in the Bible. In Psalm 90:10 he said, and this is from the living Bible, "Seventy years are given to us, some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble. Soon they disappear and we fly away. Therefore", verse 12, "teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom". You know the verse as: Lord teach us to number our days so that we might present to you a heart of wisdom.
I heard time management expert Ted Engstrom say one time: we tend to overestimate how much we can accomplish in a year, but we severely underestimate how much we can accomplish in 5 years. The fact is God has given each one of you here today just the right amount of time you need to fulfill his plan, his dream for your life. A third objection some people have to making plans is: well, doesn't the Bible warn against planning? Doesn't the Bible say we shouldn't make plans? And they always like to turn to James 4 as a reason not to make goals or set plans in life.
Let's look at these familiar words. Turn over to James 4 beginning with verse 13 "Come now, you who say, 'today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit'. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor, a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'if the Lord wills, we will give and live and also do this or that'". Some people say: see what James said? Don't make plans. Just kinda flow along with life, don't make any plans. That's not what he's saying. He's not saying there's anything wrong with making plans. What he's saying is what is wrong is to make plans without any thought of God whatsoever. What he's saying here is: go ahead and make your plans, but always preface your plans with these words, and more importantly this attitude: if this is God's will, this is what I want to happen.
There's nothing wrong with making plans, but always remember your plans, my plans are subject to the sovereignty of God. When we make our plans our attitude ought to be: God, this is what I believe you placed in my heart to do. Making plans, listen to this, making plans that are within the will of God for the glory of God are pleasing to our God. God says we ought to make plans, but make them within the boundaries of his will. Listen to Proverbs 19:21, "Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand".
Fourth, some people object to making plans by simply saying: I don't know how to make a plan. I don't know how to determine what my dream in life is and a road map for how to get there. If this is true of you, what you're going to hear in the next few minutes will be an invaluable help to you. If you want to know how to determine what God's dream is for your life and how to get there, there are three keywords you need to understand. One is: purpose: the second is: objectives: and the third is: goals. If you want to know where God wants you to go in life and how to get there, first of all, you need to have a clear purpose in life. A clear purpose. That's foundational. A purpose statement answers the question: why do I exist? Why do I exist?
By the way, some people use the word "Dream" for purpose. That's okay too. A dream is the difference you want to make in this world before you die. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says: man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We were all created to have fellowship with God. That's a purpose that applies to all of us. As Christians, Jesus commissioned us in Matthew 28 to be a part of his commission to go into all the world and make disciples. All of us are to be involved in that. But in addition to this general purpose statement that applies to all Christians everywhere: God has a unique purpose for your life. He has a reason that he left you here instead of taking you to heaven to be with him. And if we're going to have a life that matters, we need to discover what God's unique purpose for our life is.
You say: well pastor, how do I find out what my purpose is? How do I discover my dream? If you want to discover your dream, remember these two words: passion and giftedness. God's dream for your life is the intersection between your passion in life and your unique giftedness. Let me show you what I mean. First of all, talk about passion. God is not going to call you to do something that he doesn't give you a passion to do, ok. He's just not going to do it. He's not going to call me to discover the cure for cancer because, frankly, I couldn't care less about science: I have no passion in that. So that is not going to be my life's calling. If he calls you to do something he's going to give you a passion.
Now, secondly, your life-purpose will involve your giftedness. God - if he's calling you to do something - will not only give you a passion, he will give you the gift to accomplish that purpose. How do you know what your giftedness is? Ask yourself this question: see if you can answer this statement: the way I want to make a difference in the world is by... What? How are you going to make a difference in the world? It's going to be a combination of your passion and your giftedness. The way I want to make a difference in the world is by this.
Now, where do I get all of this? Am I just coming up with this out of the windmills of my mind? No, I'm getting it straight from God's word. Listen to Philippians 2:13. Memorize this verse. Philippians 2:13 says, "For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose". God is going to call you to do something for which he gives you a passion and a power. So, first of all, you get your clear purpose: the way I want to make a difference in the world is by what? Secondly, in addition to a clear purpose you need clarifying objectives. An objective answers the question: what do I want to be or do? What do I want to be or do in my life? And specifically, your objectives in life will somehow be connected to your purpose.
Now, to develop your objectives in life there are two words to remember. First of all, evaluation. You need to do an inventory of your life if you want to discover what it is you want to do or to do better in your life. Evaluation and then, secondly, formulation is the second word. Come up with an objective in each of these areas. For example, a spiritual objective might be: I want to grow in my relationship with God. Physical objective: I might want to live a long, healthy life.
Family life you might say: in my family my real need is I want to be build intimacy with my mate. Vocational you might say: you know what, I'm tired of the rat race and working for this bozo who doesn't know what he's doing I want to start my own company. Ok, so you put that down: I want to own my own business. These are objectives. A purpose-statement answers the question: why do I exist? Objectives answer the question: what do I want to be or what do I want to do? Now, whatever objectives we come up with ought to support our overall life-purpose.
Now in order to have a roadmap for where you want to go in life, you've got to have a clear purpose, you've got to have a clarifying objective, but thirdly, you have to have concrete goals. Now this is where the rubber meets the road, it's what separates the men from the boys, and women from the girls. So listen to this. This is where most people fall down. They're never able to translate their purpose and objectives into goals. What is a goal? It's a desired accomplishment that can be measured by time and performance. It's a desired accomplishment that is easily measurable by time and performance.
For example, let's just say, under family, men let's say you say: well, you know, I want to have a better relationship with my wife. Well now that's an objective, but it's not a goal. I mean, after all, when do you know if you've had a good enough relationship with your mate. There's no way to measure that. So, a goal might be in order to have a better relationship with your mate, I want to take my wife on a date once a week beginning this Friday. Now that's a goal that is measurable. You might say in your financial life: I want to get out of debt. That's my goal. I want to get... No, that may be an objective, but it's not a goal. A goal would be: I want to eliminate all of my credit card debt by December 31, 2014. You see what I mean? That is a specific accomplishment that's measurable by time and performance.
Now here is the key: as you have these specific metrics, these goals, they are helping you meet your objectives in life that ultimately help you reach your purpose in life. In order to reach that dream destination where God wants to tell you, you've got to have clear objectives. How that dream applies to every area of your life and once you know that, then you have to break it down further into specific goals that you want to accomplish that begins to be your daily to-do list. Instead of just ambling around your life just waiting for people to take control of your life and fulfill their agenda through you we've got to know what God wants from us. We've got to understand what his dream is for us and develop those plans and those goals that will help us reach his desired plan for our life.
Robert Ringer writes, "Remember life is nothing more than the sum-total of many successful years. And a successful year is nothing more than the sum-total of many successful months. And a successful month is nothing more than the sum-total of many successful weeks. And a successful week is nothing more than the sum-total of many successful days". Many of you have perhaps been to Rome and seen the Sistine Chapel, that magnificent piece of work on the ceiling painted by Michelangelo. If you read the book or saw the movie, "The agony and the ecstasy" you know that Michelangelo spent four years on his back painting that artistic masterpiece. He could have walked in and been overwhelmed by the assignment: there's no way I can do that. But he didn't do it.
You know how he accomplished it? He broke down that great dream into manageable parts. He would be on his back and he would take one section only, a few inches in diameter and he would work, and work, and work on that section. When he had finished it, he'd move over a little bit and work on that piece. Work and work, and work on it day after day, week after week, month after month. As tedious as the project was for him, he never lost sight of the big picture and the ultimate goal. And because of that, 400 years later we still enjoy that masterpiece.
How do you feel right now about the life that you're painting? What is your life looking at right now? And how are you going to feel if you reach the end of your life - and we're all going to reach it sooner than we think - how are you going to feel if you reach the end of your life not having reached your dream or even having attempted to do so? Having a clear purpose, formulating clear objectives, making concrete goals is one of the most often overlooked, but essential secrets for extraordinary success. And it's a secret that is grounded in God's word. Listen to what Paul says in Ephesians 5 from the Phillip's paraphrase, "Live life then with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life, but as those who do. Make the best use of your time despite all the difficulties of these days. Don't be vague, but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God".