From Goals to Grace

Jennifer Waddle

iBelieve Contributor
Published Jan 04, 2024
From Goals to Grace

We can set all the goals we want, but until we step into God’s abundant mercy and grace, we’ll continue to feel like we are missing the mark.

I’ve been following a podcast recently that talks about the importance of goal-setting. It’s been both insightful and inspiring, but also a bit exhausting. Perhaps it’s just me, but I get easily overwhelmed at the thought of always striving towards something more or better. Don’t get me wrong - I am all for making improvements, physically, mentally, and spiritually. However, as I understand more about God’s grace, I feel less pressure and more peace.

What about you? Are you weary of goal setting, only to feel like a failure when you don’t succeed? Are New Year’s resolutions becoming more dread than excitement? I suggest we go from goals to grace and step into God’s gentle timing. It could be He is asking us to slow our pace and rediscover what it means to live in the joy of His strength. 

Here are a few ways to approach the New Year with a mindset of grace:

Acknowledge What Is Going Right

When it comes to self-improvement, we tend to think of all that is going wrong and try to make it right. But what could happen if we switched the dialogue? Instead of listing all of the bad habits we want to change, why not list the things that have already changed for the good? Perhaps…

-Your marriage is stronger than ever.

-You’ve worked your way up in your career field.

-Your kids are healthy and happy.

-Your walk with Jesus has deepened.

Let’s go from goals to grace by acknowledging what is going right. Let’s allow the “wins” to encourage us to keep moving forward, propelling us to make improvements based on God’s abundance instead of our self-perceived lack. As we focus on the positives, we might find we’re in better shape than we thought.

In the days ahead, I encourage you to be intentional about thanking God for His abundant blessings. See how it changes your mindset from “do, do, do,” to “done, done, done.” You’ll likely feel relief at not having to keep a checklist of goals, but a record of blessings instead.

A few helpful posts include:

Why Being Thankful Is a Powerful Way to Live Free

5 Ways Counting Your Blessings Can Change the Trajectory of Your Day.

Change Your Mindset

The past year has been a time of growth as I worked closely with a Christian coach who helped change my mindset regarding work and ministry goals. She helped me identify self-imposed rules that were causing me to strive in the flesh instead of following God’s lead. I can’t tell you what a breakthrough this has been as I move from goals to grace and step forward with clarity and peace.

If you feel stuck in an endless cycle of striving and burnout, I highly recommend talking with a trusted biblical mentor to help change your mindset and deepen your prayer life. In my mentorship programs, I offer a simple pattern for prayer that can change everything. It involves asking God a few basic questions:

Lord, how do You see this person or situation? 

May I borrow Your spiritual glasses to see things as You see them?

Lord, what are your thoughts about this goal or ambition?

Will You help me think “rightly” about it according to Your truth?

This method of prayer helps us see things from God’s perspective. It releases us from striving within our own strength and leads us to rest in His wisdom. As you set goals this year, try implementing some of the above questions. Ask the Lord to help you see things as He sees them, think as He thinks, and respond in the wisdom He provides. Sometimes, a change in mindset is all you need to meet your God-given goals with confidence and ease.

Here are more resources for your journey:

How Do I Grow and Cultivate My Prayer Life?

4 Ways to Reignite Your Prayer Life

Gain a Better Understanding of God’s Grace

I’ve been a Christian for more than 30 years, but it wasn’t until recently that I started looking deeper into the powerful message of God’s grace. Hebrews 4:15-16 is a beautiful reminder that says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

The invitation to approach God’s throne with confidence is almost beyond comprehension. I don’t know about you, but I am deeply grateful I can go to the throne room at any time and find grace to help me in times of need. This has been one of the most powerful ways I’ve stepped away from hard-to-reach goals and into His approachable grace.

Because Jesus is able to empathize with our weaknesses, including anxiety, stress, and overwhelm, we are constantly reminded that we are not alone on our journey. We can set all the goals we want, but until we step into God’s abundant mercy and grace, we’ll continue to feel like we are missing the mark.

More resources on God’s grace:

The Transforming Power of God's Grace

Misunderstanding Grace

What God Means by 'My Grace Is Sufficient for You'

Identify Earthly Pursuits

In James 4:1-6, James paints a stark picture of what happens when we are earthly-minded in our goals and pursuits. He says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’”

Sometimes, we lose sight of the fact that this is not our home. Our work here is temporal. When we get too caught up in earthly pursuits and set our goals accordingly, it will eventually be a dead-end. Remember the importance of storing up treasures in heaven and not on earth. When we humble ourselves before God, seeking His will above our own, more grace is given.

As you work to improve every area of your life, try to identify earthly pursuits that have no lasting benefit. Ask the Lord to help you release your white-knuckled grip on unfruitful goals and open your hands to receive His amazing grace. Imagine the things you’ll be able to accomplish in the joy of His strength all for His glory!

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/stock_colors

Jennifer WaddleJennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.