In December of 2016, I excitedly blocked off 1 day for 2017 blog planning. Big dreams formed in my head in the days leading up to planning day. My blog was going to grow like crazy, I’d create products to sell, rock affiliate marketing and work through the entire Genius Bloggers Toolkit! (I was just a bit ambitious.)
By the time planning day arrive, my mind was made up on what I wanted to achieve. I knew my goals were lofty so I prayed for guidance on how to accomplish everything. God responded immediately. No sooner did I put pen to paper then I felt a gentle nudge in my spirit—No, not this year.
To be honest, that no was hard to swallow. I’m an achiever and I didn’t want to hear, “stay small and don’t add extra work to your load.” It didn’t make sense either. Didn’t God understand I wanted to achieve all these great things to bring Him glory? But God knew the year I had ahead of me. His no was an act of grace towards His child who would have enough battles to fight in the year ahead.
The Goal Setting Step We Miss
Submission to God is a step not talked about in most goal setting advice. Yet as Christian bloggers, it’s absolutely necessary to submit our plans and goals to God, not just on our planning day, but every day. We must be ready and willing to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit no matter where they lead. And that’s where planning and goal setting for our blog gets tricky.
With God as our guide, how much should we plan? How far reaching should our goals be? Should we plan at all? James 4:13-15 holds our answer: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” (ESV)
James is not saying plans in and of themselves are bad. In fact, other places in the Bible imply they are good and necessary (Proverbs 21:5, Proverbs 6:6-11, Luke 14:28). Rather, James reminds us to hold our plans loosely and invited God into the planning process.
Finding a Balance
I love what A. W. Tozer says about the balance between planning and leaving room for God’s will: “The big thing is to be sure we are not lulled to sleep by a false hope, that we do not waste our time dreaming about days that are not to be ours. That main thing is to make today serve us by getting ready for any possible tomorrow. Then whether we live or die, whether we toil on in the shadow or rise to meet the returning Christ, all will be well.”
God plants dreams and desires in our hearts as gifts of guidance.(*Please note, not all desires are from God, we must ask the Holy Spirit for discernment in this area.) But when we focus on the dream instead of the giver of the dream, it becomes our functional god. We get so caught up in the future that we forget tomorrow might not arrive.
At the same time, not planning is irresponsible. It wastes the talents and message God gave us to share. Every tomorrow is an opportunity to love people well, bring honor to God, and further the Kingdom of Heaven.
Last year all my big dreams and plans were about what I could do for God, rather than what big things God could do through me. So this year I approached my planning with open hands. I said, “Here are my desires Lord, what do you want me to do with them?” The change is subtle but it’s one we cannot afford to miss.
If you haven’t invited God into your goals for the year, I encourage you to do so today (It’s never too late!). Open yourself up to being the vessel through which God does marvelous work.