As we start the New Year, we often think about making resolutions and setting new goals. I believe God created us to love new beginnings and second chances, especially in our fallen world. He also designed us to be creative and to dream of accomplishing things.
This time of year is one of the great times to talk with our kids about setting goals. If you have teens or young adult children in your home, it is a great way to get them thinking about where they are heading in their lives without nagging or even suggesting ideas, but to see where they are and what they are thinking about their futures. And if they haven’t been thinking about their futures, to get them moving on that! It’s a great way to remind them that life is more than computer games, selfies, or chatting with friends (Or am I the only one who ever deals with that? LOL!)
Anyway–Helping our children set goals can be a fun activity that is also a time of devotion to God. And it should be that. It is actually very important that it is a time of devotion and prayer. If God is not at the center of our goal-planning, we are doing what seems right in our own minds—and you know how that worked out for the people of Israel during the time of the judges—not good! So, that’s #1:
G – Give God Glory: Give God first priority as you pray with your children about what God is putting on your hearts. Parent, how is God leading you to pray for each child? What are things your children know God wants them to do or be? How can that become a goal for this New Year? Think beyond the surface, self-focused goals we usually think of first, and allow this to become a way we can see God working in our lives, glorifying Himself, and making us more Christlike.
O – Offer Open-Ended Options: Open up conversations with open-ended questions: Ask fun questions such as “What if you could accomplish any dream, what would you do?” Or “What would make this the best year ever?” Or “How could you make a difference in someone’s life or show God’s love to someone this year?” And “What do you see God doing around you and in your life?” Get your kids thinking outside the box and onto ideas that could stretch them this year.
A – Allow for Adaptations: Allow for updates and changes. Sometimes, it seems that God “fine-tunes” our goals through the process of reaching them. Sometimes they may be long-term goals that cannot be reached in the timeframe we’ve set. Sometimes God has something a little different in mind than what we originally thought. It’s a valuable lesson to teach our children that goals are not set in stone but, as any plan progresses, changes and fine-tuning is a part of the process. Learning that now will serve them well throughout their lives.
L – Lead in Logical Lessons: Leading your children to create SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely will help them prepare for success. Help them set goals that they can check off when completed or can measure how close they came to reaching them. Create smaller objectives where appropriate. Work backwards from the goal to today and help them see how to move toward their goals throughout the year. This will also prevent us and them from giving “Sunday School answers” to goal setting. “God wants me to love everyone” is not a goal. It is an ideal, a value, a belief, but it is not a goal. “God wants me to build a friendship with the new girl in class. I will start by asking her to play four-square at recess this week.” That’s a goal.
S – Set Up Sensory Signalers: Creating a visual prayer chart for each child, colorful journal, fun magnets for the fridge, or cute notes on the bathroom mirror as reminders about the goals and reminders to pray about them and work toward them can help children to focus on what they are working toward. [I hesitate to equate this in any way to a “vision board” since those have the connotation of us using our powers to cause the “universe” to give us stuff (Law of Attraction and New Age thought) So please don’t think I am promoting that]. Children are often visual, and having something they can see to pray about each day can help. Set up a prayer list of some kind whether visual or simply a list they see daily, so they can keep praying over these goals and keep them in their hearts and minds.
Areas to Consider
When setting goals, we may want to explore different parts of our lives. We can help our children think through different parts of their lives, different areas in which they may want to set goals. Using Luke 10:27 helps us think through every part of our lives.
The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’
And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27, NLT)
What are my goals in my family and friendships? (neighbor as yourself)
What are my goals in my education and work? Reading goals? Workshops or learning events I may want to attend? (mind)
What are my physical and health-related goals? Losing weight? Getting in shape? Walking around the block each day? Giving up sodas except for once a week? (strength)
What are my spiritual goals? Read the Bible through in 2022? Memorize 100 verses this year? Spend an hour in prayer each day? (soul)
What are my emotional goals? How can I learn to control my temper? What are some actionable steps for learning to be more loving and kind? Get creative and specific with how to help ourselves become healthier emotionally. (heart)
I hope these spark some great ideas and conversations with your kids. This should be a fun time of self-examination, prayer, and family interaction. For the crafty kids in your family, have the supplies handy to make some great visual reminders of their goals. Or create a chart with the SMART acrostic from this post. Most of all, have fun as you think through your goals for this New Year.
As a parent, I like to also take this time to create prayer requests for each of my kids in each of the areas of their lives. I may ask what they want me to pray about, and I also ask God how I should be praying for my kids. I also pray for their future spouses. I encourage you to consider adding this to your plans as well. I truly believe prayer is vital to the Christian life, and it is the most powerful act we can do in making a difference in this world and in our kids’ lives.
God bless you as you seek the Lord and His plans for your family. I pray this year is a year of trusting God, obeying God, and honoring God in our homes.
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21, NLT)
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. (Isaiah 26:8, NLT)