For most of my life, I have been trudging along to some degree, without really having an aim. I knew where I wanted to be, kind of, and how I would sort of get there but nothing concrete for me to reflect on. However, in 2020 I purposed in my heart to have an aim and objectives for the year, not in my head, but down on paper.
For the first time in my life, I sat down and deeply contemplated and asked God what He wanted me to achieve in the year and how I would achieve it. I wrote down my overall aim for the year and this was accompanied by tangible objectives which would enable me to reach my overall aim. I had two particular scriptures which tied in with my overall aim and by doing so I hoped to constantly look back to see whether I was living in accordance with my aim for the year.
My overall aim for 2020 was based on two scriptures:
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” - John 4:34
“And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” - John 8:29
These two scriptures in essence captured my overall aim for the year: firstly I wanted to be actively involved in reaching people and sharing Jesus with them through various avenues. Secondly, regarding my conduct, I wanted to “always do those things that please Him.”
As a result of my overall aim, which was more heavily focused on John 4:34, my objectives were very precise and easy to be measured. For example, how many Bible studies I wanted to give or how many times I wanted to preach throughout the year, to name a few.
The aim of objectives is to break down the overall aim into bitesize, more tangible tasks which once accomplished would achieve the overall aim.
What I came to realise is that, with an aim and objectives, your actions will be more focused and purposeful; also making decisions about what to do and what not to do should be simpler. The life of Jesus really exemplified a focused and purposeful life.
Jesus’ aim was declared before He was born because the plan of redemption was not an afterthought. However, just in case people didn’t get the memo, His aim was stated at His birth:
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:21
This was Jesus’ definite aim, all His actions, words, and decisions were in line with saving people from their sins. But Jesus also had, you could say, ‘bitesize’ objectives in how He would accomplish that overall aim. This is found originally in Isaiah 61:1-2 in a prophecy concerning Himself, but He declared it so that others knew and so He would be accountable:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” - Luke 4:18-19
When you peruse through the gospels, this is in essence what you behold Jesus doing. Hence, John writes at the end of his gospel “and truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book” and “if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” however, “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31; 21:25 italics added).
Side note, all of what Jesus did was for us to believe in Him and if we believe in Him we should have eternal life (John 3:16). If we miss this, we are missing the essence of the scriptures.
Jesus had objectives to enable Him to reach His aim. Although I do not have scripture for this, I can imagine Jesus waking up every morning reminding Himself of His aim and objectives. So because His definite aim was always before Him, He was not able to be sidetracked, He was able to endure what He did because He had the ultimate aim of saving us from our sins in mind (Hebrews 12:1-2). All His actions and words were rooted and grounded in what He came to do.
First point: “Write the vision, And make it plain on tablets” (Habakkuk 2:2). In other words counsel with God about your overall aim for the year, have objectives that will enable you to achieve your overall aim and write them down. It can be in your journal (if you don’t have one, a quick promotion – it’s a game changer) or on your wall, or for you tech people in an app (there is an app for everything). Writing it down will ensure you don’t forget and you always have a reference point, as it is easy to forget.
“Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor.” - Education p262.1
However the reality is (keep this in mind), not everyone will understand your aim, Jesus' disciples didn’t and that is fine, press on. We see this clearly in the closing scenes of Jesus’ life when He was approaching Jerusalem. The disciples thought He would bring the kingdom of God immediately (Luke 19:11), so they constantly sidetracked Him and wanted Him to do things which weren’t necessarily in line with what He came to do. So while on His way to the Holy City, the disciples were excited like children on Christmas morning because they were waiting with anticipation to see the Romans overthrown by their Messiah.
As they were on their journey they passed by a certain blind beggar Bartimaeus, who was screaming for dear life for Jesus to have mercy on him (Luke 18:38). But because they had a different aim for Jesus they were completely oblivious and couldn’t care less about Bartimaeus even though by now, they knew Jesus could restore him.
So instead of helping Jesus in achieving His aim and objectives they fanned Bartimaeus away and told Him to be quiet, and as if that wasn’t bad enough for the poor man, they added a cherry on top and rebuked him (Luke 18:39). But because Jesus had His aim in sight, He heard Bartimaeus’ plea and stopped and healed Him (Luke 18:42-43).
Point two: have people around you that know/are aware of your aim. I am not saying proclaim it like it is gospel but it can be slid into conversations. This shouldn’t be much of a problem with your close friends as you would have a relationship with them and they can also hold you accountable. But remember they may not understand at first, as did Jesus’ disciples (Acts 1:6) but as Jesus did you can continuously remind them and hopefully they will get there eventually (Acts 2:22-39).
It is vital to have the right people around you that will enable you to achieve your aims and objectives. As we saw with the disciples and the rest of Jesus’ entourage, the wrong people around you could lead to opportunities that are actually in your aim and objectives being pushed away from you. It may be done unconsciously and ignorantly by the disciples and co. but the damage may still be done. This year I can testify that the reason why I achieved, by God’s grace, my aim and my objectives was due to my friends providing me with opportunities that were in line with what I wanted to achieve throughout the year.
Point three: reflect, reflect and reflect again on your aim and objectives. Without reflection there can be no growth nor analysis as to whether you are reaching your goals.
As I pointed out in the beginning, in January 2020 I took time out to carefully write down my aim and objectives. But because I was not reflecting at all (I mean zero reflection), I lost sight of my definite aim. As a result, I ended up taking on way too many projects which weren’t in line my aim and objectives. Consequently, I was so overwhelmed with my workload that I was near enough as thin as paper, pulled in every direction possible and it heavily affected my mental health and my spiritual life; all as a result of losing sight of my aim. But I thank God for bringing me back and for using my friends too: they presented me with opportunities which were in line with my aim and helped me refocus.
After creating the Heavens and the Earth God stopped and reflected; “then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). If God did not reflect on what He did He would not have realised or have been able to say that “it was very good”. To take it a step further I believe every day God reflected on His work and progress (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25 emphasis on “God saw it was good”). Whether that means daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly you can decide – but the principle is reflection. As you constantly reflect and keep steadily in view the aim worthy of your endeavor you will see whether the year is going “very good” in light of your aim or if it is going south.
After looking back and reflecting I eventually got rid of some things that I did not need to be part of. Also, when I was asked to do various tasks and projects I would always look back and evaluate: “how would this opportunity tie into my aim and objectives?”. This made the process of accepting or declining opportunities much easier. But that is not to say don’t accept opportunities that may not necessarily tie into your aim; as you constantly acknowledge God and seek His guidance He will order your steps. Last year, I found myself being part of things that weren’t in my aim but they helped me develop and grow as a person.
Point four: when opportunities arise, always evaluate them from the perspective of your aim and objectives, so everything you do will be focused on your overall aim.
I have gone to the extent that even the books I read tie into enabling me to achieve my overall aim and to accomplish my objectives. For example, books on how to effectively give Bible studies or how to do evangelism in my local area. These helped me to be more effective and achieve what I had set out to accomplish.
Here are the four points that I have for you to try and implement:
“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets” - Habakkuk 2:2
Have people around you that know your aim and can help you achieve it
Constantly reflect, whether daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly on your aim and objectives.
Weigh up the opportunities that arise against your aim and objectives
This is something that has really helped me stay focused in 2020, I hope that you may implement these in your life in a way that best suits you in 2021 and in the years to come.
“Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor.” - Education 262.1
May this year be a productive and purposeful year for you, in which you grow and become more like Christ.