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We can't cause our spiritual growth. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to transform us into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18), but God does expect our obedient and active cooperation (1 Cor. 9:24-27). One way we can purposefully "train ourselves to be godly" (1 Tim. 4:7-8) is through spiritual evaluation and goal setting.
Resolutions and goals are often hard to keep. Statistics show that, at best, only 46% of New Year's resolutions are still kept six months into the year. People lose their resolve quickly because they set unattainable goals.
The following five tips will help you set personal discipleship goals that will keep you growing:
Concentrate your efforts. Set just one, two, or three goals at a time. Don't spread yourself too thin. When you experience success then add another goal.
Be realistic. Set goals that are attainable. If you don't read your Bible regularly now, don't set a goal to read the entire Bible in three months. Instead commit to read it three to five times per week.
Think concretely. Set goals so progress can be measured. For instance, this goal is too ambiguous: I'm going to spend more time with God. Instead be concrete: I will read one Bible chapter and pray for 10 minutes five times a week.
Include strategies. Develop strategies designed to move you toward your goals. If one goal is to memorize Scripture, determine how you will do that. What verses will you memorize? How often will you tackle a new one? What memorization techniques will you use?
Create manageable steps. Break your overall goal into a series of smaller goals that are doable and will foster success.
How do we begin? First, take a serious look at your spiritual health. You may use the free "Discipleship Evaluation" download. This tool covers 17 different key discipleship areas. Your weakest areas can be great growth areas. Next, set spiritual growth goals using the five tips above. Planning is not unspiritual. Living a life that glorifies God will not happen by accident. Write down some concrete goals at the bottom of the Discipleship Evaluation form for your new year.
Most importantly, ask God to guide you as you evaluate your spiritual health and set goals for growth. He will bring the spiritual transformation as you strive to live a live that pleases Him.