In our pursuit to live out our dreams, there’s the pressure of measuring up to our goals and expectations. One thing I’ve realized lately is how detrimental and binding our goals can actually be. A life of significance and purpose comes with with the desire of influencing others. It’s a life which rests in our hope of freeing people from their shame, guilt and insecurities – a life dedicated to transforming the lives of others. Attached to the magnitude of this hope is the desire to reach as many people as we can. It’s a life which embraces wildly audacious goals. Goals often fixed on reaching the masses. And while it’s vital for our goals and expectations to be rooted in things we never thought we’d accomplish, I’ve come to realize how having an externally focused perspective of influence can cause us to walk in great limitation.
Along my journey of using my writing to impact those around me, I’ve set goals that I know, if met, will only be a result of God’s hand on my work. However, after listening to a conversation between Christopher Cook and Ryan Hall on Win Today, I was forced to analyze my own goals and expectations. In their conversation, Christopher and Ryan discussed how our perception can change when we reach benchmarks we’d never expect we’d reach - benchmarks such as reaching 20,000 followers on social media. They discussed how in the moments we reach goals society deems as glorious, the open door for jealousy and comparison can swing wide open. Listening to their conversation made me realize how many of my goals and expectations were similar to what Chris and Ryan spoke about. My goals were rooted in what society claims success to be, ranging from having x amount of page views per week to having x amount of subscribers by the end of 2019. I ignorantly clung to the belief that if I had more people reading my material, I’d be impacting the world as I’ve always longed to. Realizing my goals had nothing to do with my own internal influence and were solely fixed on the response of the world I round me, I began to finally understand my expectations were limiting my success and purpose, because they were so distanced from my own personal devotion and evolution.
Goals and expectations such as speaking in front of 10,000 people, writing a New York Times’ Best Seller, reaching 30,000 subscribers, and doubling our business' profits are things we should hope for, because these types of goals do represent greater influence. They reflect the life of purpose and glory God so desires for us to have. Having a greater audience equates to having greater influence; but if these types of goals are the only ones we have, we limit ourselves from examining our present self and establishing the steps we can take within our own devotion in order to carry our hearts deeper into our gifted purpose. We hinder ourselves from growing in what God called us to do, as we fix our eyes on the the reactions and satisfaction of others. These external goals leave us empty as they have no power to influence ourselves. In all reality, the only power they have is to lead us into traps of comparison, disappointment and rejection, because when society doesn’t respond according to how we hoped, our goals echo defeat. We begin to walk in unbelief, accepting we are unable to fulfill our purpose and dreams. We begin to believe we’re not the one who will abolish sex trafficking or bring an end to local drug cartels. These external goals shift our perspective from the work God called us to towards the reaction of an audience God may never intended to be ours.
Internal Transformation Into External Influence
If we hope to influence those around us and grow in our purpose, our goals must not only be internally focused, but our dedication must be as well. We must learn to make goals that are in complete relation to our own performance. The harsh reality is, regardless of how much I long to one day have thousands of people read the story God placed inside my heart, if I never write, no one will have the chance the read it. If I don’t look at who I was yesterday and see how I can be a better version of myself today, it doesn’t matter how many subscribers I gain. The same rings true for all of us. If we are going to see our dreams fulfilled, we must first influence ourselves. Too often, we bind ourselves to the judgement and acceptance of those around us, when it’s our internal transformation which causes us to be the best version of ourselves - the version of ourselves which has the power to influence and inspire more people.
When we establish the heart of our goals in what we can do, when we focus only on what we have control over, we free ourselves from disappointment and enter into a life of faithful stewardship. I believe the greatest cause for our disappointment in reaching the fullness of our purpose is the unfulfilled pride in our work - an unfulfilled pride resting in the praise we never hear from society. Yet if our expectations, goals and desires are established not in society’s response, but rather in the steps we must take in order to transform into the greater version of ourselves, we’ll never be disappointed as long as we stay steadfast in our efforts. We’ll always be satisfied because we’ll know in our hearts we did everything we could. We’ll know we woke up today and did one thing better than we did yesterday. We’ll know that as we exercised for ten more minutes than the day before, as we read one more chapter of a book we’ve picked and put down six times, as we taught ourselves one more song on an instrument we’ve always wanted to play, as we control our temper towards our children in a moment when we’d usually lose it, as we get up in the morning looking for one simple way to make our spouse smile, as we find ourselves forgiving someone without having to think about it, we’ll know we’re one step closer to reaching the fullness of our purpose; and we’ll be able to do it all again tomorrow, submitting ourselves to a life purposed in influencing those around us through a life fixed on first influencing ourselves. We’ll begin to live a life focused on becoming more like God intended us to be, allowing Him to be all He desires to be in the purpose and plans He gave us.
After this particular of Win Today finished, I began asking myself these questions:
Am I doing as much as I’m capable of?
Am I operating in the fullness of my capacity?
What can I do to increase my capacity?
What is my next level of consistency?
What is stopping me from reaching these next levels of myself?
Very quickly I had answers for all of these questions. Some of which were good. Some of which were embarrassing. Yet all of which were inspiring, because as I answered these questions, I realized my journey towards reaching my goal of changing the atmosphere, neighborhood and city I live in can only come to pass if the answers to these particular questions become the focus of my attention. The success of my purpose is not in the response of others, but in my response to myself. So my question to you today, is are you doing as much as you are capable of? Are you operating in the fullness of your capacity in all areas of your life? Are you living up to the role you have as a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter, a student, a teacher, a boss, an employee or a leader? What can you do to increase your capacity? What needs to be removed from your life to free yourself up from clinging to the expectations of others? What fruitless trees are taking root in the soil of your life? How can you devote yourself to seeing your dreams realized? What is stopping you from reaching these next levels of yourself? And lastly, what is it going to take for your to say yes to embracing everything you’ve been made to be?