Helping Our Children Run the Race – Setting Goals

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:15).

We’re running a race. So are our children. The beginning of a new year is a good time to reevaluate our goals. Are we running in the right direction or are we distracted by lots of good and not-so-good things along the way?

New Year’s has traditionally been the time for goal setting in the Forster household. We sit down and write up not resolutions, but goals, by God’s grace, to strive for during the next year. We also look back over the past year, assess how we did on last year’s goals, thank God for any progress He has allowed us to make, and recommit ourselves to diligent labor in Christ’s kingdom.

I would like to encourage you, if you don’t already do this, to set aside some think-and-talk time with each of your children over the next few days. Make some hot chocolate (with lots of marshmallows on top) and put out a plate of cookies, or take an older child out to the local coffee shop or a favorite fast food restaurant. Together outline some specific goals to work on over the next year.

Here are a few verses to guide your thinking:

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) We are here to glorify God.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We’re here to fear God and obey His Word.

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). We’re here to love Him with all our being and to love our neighbor.

Think about goals in some or all of the following areas:

  • Bible reading and study (through the entire Bible, learn different study methods, join or lead a group study)
  • Prayer (for others, for family, giving thanks,  praising God, praying through the Psalms)
  • Bible memorization (weekly goals, list of passages to memorize throughout the year, accountability)
  • Fellowship with other believers (church, hospitality, Bible studies, etc.)
  • Growing in obedience to God (obedience to parents, attitudes and areas of character that need improvement)
  • Giving the gospel to the lost (reaching out to neighbors and family, mission work, pregnancy resource centers, street ministry, etc.)
  • Serving others (at home, at church, in the community)
  • Learning and growing (school, private lessons, reading lists, seminars, hobbies, etc.)
  • Family relationships (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.)
  • Friendships (friends who can help them grow, friends who need friends)
  • Work (chores, paid jobs, volunteer work, household projects, etc.)
  • Use of leisure time (role of media and social networking, reading material, music, social activities)

Write specific goals. Instead of, “Do better reading the Bible,” try, “Read at least one chapter of the Bible every day.” Instead of, “Share the gospel with others,” consider, “Work once a week at the Rescue Mission in town.”

Write these goals in a special journal or save them in a computer document where they can be reviewed on a regular basis throughout the year, and where you can re-evaluate at the end of the year and carry over unfinished goals into the next year.

Our children have a purpose to fulfill in their childhood and youth, and they will have purposes to fulfill when they reach adulthood. Let’s help them wisely invest the years of their youth. Let’s help them run the race and win the prize!


(For help in setting goals for boys and girls, consider using Plants Grown Up and Polished Cornerstones for ideas. For help in setting your own goals, I highly recommend Shopping for Time, by Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters.)

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