Steven Furtick — Reaching the Goal
I want to begin with a confession. I am a goal-oriented person, which may sound like a good thing. But, I tend to be a little extreme about it in setting goals. Sometimes I set unrealistic goals. Sometimes in reaching them, like one time I decided to eat low carb.
And so, I was so strict about it, because if I set the goal that I'm not going to eat carbs, well then, if I'm at an event and they have barbecued chicken, yes, I'm going to take my barbecued chicken in the bathroom and wash the barbecue off the chicken because I have goals.
I see life sometimes as a series of goals and I think it causes me to miss the process that life is really all about. I even approach my relationship with God this way sometimes. And so, everything is a destination and I don't enjoy the journey. Can you relate?
It even extends into my parenting. When our first child was born, I remember having this sense of relief, because, you know, I did so much to bring him into the world. But, for me, there was a sense of worry the whole time that Holly was pregnant. Is the baby going to be born healthy? You know, like, I would see somebody smoking in the general ten-mile vicinity of my pregnant wife and I would cut their throat, you know, what I'm saying.
Because my child can't be born with any extra appendages. And when he was born and he was healthy and they were like, "Oh, he scored super high on the APGAR test," which is... I didn't even know was a competition of how healthy the baby could look based on his skin color and whether or not it's healthy and vibrant.
I remember feeling this sense of incredible relief. The night after Elijah was born, I was sitting with Holly in the hospital room, because I was tired watching her produce a human being. And I was sitting there going, "Well, we got that over with." And we both kind of laughed. We both started laughing because we both knew nothing could be further from the truth that that's over with.
And I want to tell you now, about 11 years into being a parent, my worries about my children were just beginning when they were still inside their mother's body. I mean, I don't even have teenagers yet. So, I don't even think I am qualified to speak on parental concern. Because anybody knows, if you stop and think about it, that having a baby is not a project. Raising children is a process.
I want you to think about those two words because they're very key to where I want to focus today. Project and process. In so many ways, when I first started following Christ, I thought of it like a project was completed. That's how it was presented to me. Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and He will make you a new creation and you'll have a new heart and you'll be forgiven of your sin and you'll be headed to heaven when you die.
But, what about while I live? Because I found out that although Christ gave me new desires, it didn't take the old ones completely away. It gave me the ability to choose. And walking with Christ is a process, not a project.
See, the more you see your relationship with Christ or fulfilling His calling on your life or being a parent as a project, the more you're going to be disappointed and disillusioned as you come face-to-face with the clash between your goals and the grind.
If I could talk about that for a moment, there is an interesting hashtag that you will see populating social media. And the hashtag goals has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. I don't know if you've seen this online. Have you seen this? People use it for everything. I'm sure you've seen this. The kids have been doing this for years now. Everything is goals. Everything is goals.
So, you may see a picture of Jay Z and Beyonc and you may see on the comment section 10,000 people would say goals. It's a way of saying, like, "Yeah, right, I wish. If only my life could be like that." Goals. Everybody say, "Goals." Are you a goal setter? Are you?
Now, I did not ask if you are a goal reacher. That's a different thing. Because some of us are better at setting goals than we are at reaching goals. And there are industries formulated around this hypothesis that especially as American's we're much better at setting goals than reaching them.
So, health clubs bank on this every January. Goals. And because of the proliferation of this hashtag and what it means to culture that it's kind of an indictment that we find the most unrealistic view of reality we can find and then say, "Goals." This term pairs neatly with relationship. Relationship goals. Squad goals. Hair goals. Pet goals. Goals. Goals. Goals. Goals. Goals. Project. If I could be married to someone like that. Goals.
I think we even do it in the church sometimes. We have people that we silently think, "If I could have their insight. If I could have their self-control." We've been talking a lot in this series of teachings of what makes you truly qualified. And we've been talking a lot about the apostle Paul. I mean, if anybody was qualified, it would have been Paul, from several vantage points. His giftedness made him qualified. But, his background also gave him some pretty unique qualifications.
When he's writing to the Philippian church from a prison cell in Philippians 3, he talks about how he doesn't want to put confidence in the flesh. He doesn't want to just reach the goals that other people present as the object of perfection. And he's talking about some of his accomplishments in life in Verse 4.
He says, "That I, myself, have reasons for this kind of confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh," in other words, if anybody has the right to flash the goals they've reached its Paul. And he lists a few of these. Some of them are the product of his birth and his background.
He says, "I was circumcised on the eighth day." Goals.
"I'm of the people of Israel." Goals.
"I'm of the tribe of Benjamin." This is a prestigious kingly line. Goals.
"I'm a Hebrew of Hebrews. I'm at the top of my class." Goals.
"In regard to the law of Pharisee," this was a strict ruling council that Paul could claim right to by virtue of his study and his training. Goals.
"As for zeal, persecuting the church. As for righteousness, based on the law, faultless." Goals.
You want to talk about goals, look at Paul. It takes an interesting turn in Verse 7. He says, "Whatever were gains to me, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." In other words, all of the goals that I had reached before Christ, I've given up those goals for a greater one.
Maybe what we need in life is to not get better at reaching goals, but at setting the right ones to begin with. Because Paul said, "I achieved all of that and I did all of that and now I consider it garbage," Verse 8, "compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. I want to be found in Him," Verse 9, "not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith."
The basis of faith. What is that basis? Well, to examine that we need to bring Peter over and compare him to Paul, because we live in a culture of comparison, so let's look at Peter. Peter who was a fisherman. Peter who was an unschooled, ordinary man.
In fact, that's what the Bible gives us as a descriptor of Peter and John. That's the reason that people were so blown away at the power of the early church. Because when they compared their power to their pedigree, the two didn't seem to assimilate.
Now, you have Peter, who's a fisherman, who's going through and sweeping through the culture, not only the Jewish culture, but the culture of his time and is performing great miracles, and you've got Paul, who's a great apostle, and you've got Peter, who's an unschooled ordinary man, and the Bible says that, "Both of them were greatly used by God."
It's interesting because Peter, as a Jew, would have been told all of his life to be more like Paul. But now, Paul, who has reached all the goals that anybody would want to reach in a religious setting, is trying to become more like Peter. Paul is the epitome of the virtue that is esteemed and Peter is the epitome of the kind of person that God can use.
I brought it up only to say that sometimes you have a vision of a version of yourself that you believe God wants to use that is actually getting in the way of the very things that God put in you to use according to His purpose. Which brings up an interesting question.
If it's true that Paul was becoming more like Peter instead of Peter becoming more like Paul, if Paul is saying, "All my qualifications, I had to put them aside so I could fulfill my calling based on the righteousness that comes through faith," and if Peter, in an ordinary way, is being used by God extraordinarily, what's stopping you from reaching your goals?
I believe goals are good. Don't get me wrong. I'm not against goals. Set them. Do it. Make it happen. Make it work for you. Set the goals. Fit into the jeans. Eat the broccoli. Whatever. God is a God of goals. He didn't leave His disciples and say, "You all enjoy the planet." He said, "No, make disciples of all the nations." All the nations. That's a goal. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." That's a specific goal.
God's a God of goals. He has a goal for your life. He wants to conform you to the image of His Son. It's good to have goals. What's stopping you? If Peter, an unschooled, ordinary man, if John, an unschooled, ordinary man were greatly used by God and Paul had to give up on the things that should have qualified him to be the person God called him to be and step away from them as his source of significance, what's stopping you? Maybe we break it down into three categories. Maybe there's a limitation that's stopping you from reaching the goal in your life. A limitation, something that you can't do, don't have, never had, should have had, should have received, could have been better at. Limitation like the man with the withered hand that Jesus healed in Mark 3 where he couldn't have full function of his hand and it must have affected his employment and Jesus healed him on the Sabbath and the Pharisees didn't like that, because they had limited their view of what God could do and when He could do it to the specific narrow frame and time and way of doing it. And when Jesus broke all of those rules, they didn't like it. But Jesus was determined. Maybe it's intimidation that's keeping you from reaching your goal.