As far back as I can remember, I’ve always set goals for myself. Why I set goals and the process I use has changed through the years, but the desire to pray, hear from God and have some motivating ideas that keep me motivated and passionate about life and ministry remain as strong as ever. Rick Warren shares five kinds of goals that God blesses.

Originally published by Rick Warren

As you look ahead for the remainder of this year, I hope you have some goals to pursue.

In a  last Ministry Toolbox article, I shared with you five reasons goals are important. But that doesn’t mean every goal is good. There are some goals God won’t bless. For example, you could set a goal to watch every television episode this year, and it’s likely God won’t bless that kind of goal.

On the other hand, God blesses goals that honor him. What are those goals?

Goals that bring glory to God.

The Bible tells us everything we do can bring glory to God if we do it in the right attitude and with the right motivation (1 Corinthians 10:31). Any goal that makes us more grateful to God, draws us closer to him, or involves sharing Jesus with others brings God glory.

This means the same goal can be one God blesses and one he doesn’t, depending upon the motivation behind it. If you set an attendance goal for your church because you want to bring attention to yourself, that’s not a goal God will bless. But if you’re motivated to set that goal because you want to see more people come to faith in Christ, that’s a godly goal.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:9, “Our only goal is to please God whether we live here or there” (NCV). Pleasing God needs to be the motivation behind every goal we set.

Goals that are motivated by love.

God is far more interested in why you do what you do than what you do. He’s more interested in your heart than your actions. God won’t bless goals we set because of fear, envy, or peer pressure. But if love motivates our goals, God will bless them.

In fact, 1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Do everything in love” (NCV). Why? Because love is the number one lesson God wants us to learn in life.

Two kinds of love motivate our goals—love for God and love for others. When we set a goal to get in shape as an act of stewarding what the Lord has given us, that’s a goal motivated by love for God. When we set a goal to do something special for our spouse weekly, that’s motivated by our love for others.

Goals that fulfill one of God’s purposes for your life.

God has five purposes for our lives—worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. God’s purposes are eternal, and he always blesses us when we pursue them.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:26, “I run with purpose in every step” (NLT). Paul was a purpose-driven runner when it came to pursuing God’s purposes. He wanted to do what God wanted him to do, and he refused to let distractions get in the way.

The Bible often compares life to a race. In a race, runners don’t get to change the finish line. The finish line is preset. The same is true for our lives. God’s purposes are the goals we must pursue. We don’t choose them. He does.

Goals that are set in faith.

Goals aren’t just a statement of faith. They stretch your faith. The bigger your goal, the more your faith will be stretched. And that pleases God. The Bible tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

If a goal is too small, it’s not a goal. It’s a to-do list. A goal is something big enough that you must depend upon God to complete it.

Goals that are achieved with God’s power.

You can find a large selection of self-help books on Amazon or at your local bookstore. Some of them have good advice, but none of them can provide what the Bible does. They may teach you about time management, forgiveness, or dieting. They may even have brilliant strategies, but none of them will give you the power to manage your priorities in life, forgive someone who has hurt you, or renew your mind. Only God’s power can do that.

Your goals matter to God. As you look ahead, take a look at the goals you’ve set. Are they the kinds of goals God will bless?