In Purpose

A pivotal practice for success when setting goals

It’s that time of year when many of us reflect on the year past and ponder on which path to take for the year to come. I’m one of those people that sets goals for myself.  One of the most important practices when setting goals is the art of losing myself.  I have found it to be pivotal for success.

When it comes to setting goals for the year to come I do not ask,

  • How will it benefit me?

Rather, I ask:

  • How will this affect others?

That is the art of losing myself.

I am not talking about self-imposed martyrdom – that kind of behavior is actually selfish or self-seeking.  Rather, I am talking about giving myself away.

I am learning that God’s purpose for me always involves benefiting others.

  • The time we have on this planet is to be spent establishing his kingdom, not our own.
  • The gifts and talents we have are for the purpose of making the world we touch better.  We can’t make the whole world better but God requires us to make a part of it better.
  • The resources that come our way are for stewarding in ways that will be of most benefit to the cause of Christ.
  • The relationships we have are for reflecting how God loves.  Unconditionally.  We love even when we are not loved back.  We accept, even when we are rejected.  As far as it depends on us, we live in peace with all. (Romans 12:18)

The art of losing yourself does not have to be “spiritual” or weird.  It can be very practical.

  • Perhaps you want to lose weight in the year to come.  How do you assess this goal against the criteria of “how will this affect others?”
  • If you want to lose weight simply to appear more attractive, then perhaps you are merely benefiting yourself.
  • However, if  you resolve to become healthier by losing weight you still benefit yourself but also your family, your employer, your friends.  That then is a goal that loves others as you love yourself.
  • I have found that when we spell out for ourselves how others stand to benefit from our goals, we are less likely to give up on them.

Here are two resources that have helped me tremendously:

  • A song that helps me focus on this art of losing myself and never fails to bring me into the presence of God.
  • The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller. A very short but very profound book that has become one of the books I read on a regular basis.  Each time I read it I am challenged anew.  Thank you Tim Keller for giving yourself away the way you do.

When I set about learning this art of losing myself, the most amazing thing happens.  In giving myself away to benefit others, I in turn, benefit enormously.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. (Luke 17:33)

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