Grace -V- Goals

Andy Bunch

(Note this follows up on an idea started in This Post from earlier this week. Post three in the series here.)

We’ve all asked for things in the name of Jesus and not had it work out. We’re told that God won’t withhold any good thing from us and we pray in his name we will receive. In fact we’re told that we have not because we don’t ask, and we need to have faith that it will be done. (Psalm 37:4, Luke 12:32, James 4:2-3, Matt. 17:20).

One of the core things that goes wrong with goals is that we set them. They need to be the result of a prophetic process if we’re going to make progress, but there are a host of reasons why Christians don’t hear God when it comes to our goals. 

  1. Our goals are actually aspirations in the context of our larger purpose. Until we figure out what we’re here to do in partnership with God, goals that God helps me set won’t make sense. 
  2. God sets goals in partnership with a version of ourselves we aren’t seeing. We need to see ourselves the way God sees us in order to understand the goals on our hearts. 

Put another way, we are constrained to the level of our heart & soul health. The enemy gets to continually mess with us as we pursue the desires of our carnal heart, no matter how lofty and selfless those goals may be. 

So how do we set goals the right way if I’m a work in progress? We need to meditate for a bit on what Grace really is. (See the next section)

Even in the world they’ve noticed that we have to take our focus off the desired outcome to gain traction in our journey toward it (“the inner tennis match”). Focus on the outcome leads to “don’t screw up” thinking. We’re much more effective focusing on what it feels like when we’re doing it at our best. The gurus would say that its a mix of instinct and the hours of skill building to learn how to do it. In other words we’ve invested in achieving a certain level of success and you’ve hit the ball out of the park a few times, what state of mind were you in when you did it right. You probably weren’t thinking, “please don’t miss.” 

The gurus aren’t wrong, I just have a third source of right thoughts. By inviting God into your process you can have what Graham Cooke would call “brilliant thoughts.” These are thoughts about how to show up correctly in circumstances you haven’t even been in yet. It’s the next level of What Would Jesus Do? This is more like, by faith I know Jesus has the other end of this heavy burden we’re lifting, what’s our plan? 

Meditating on Grace for the Right Mindset 

What if we’ve had a wrong interpretation of Grace and righteousness? Before the world began God designed us to a purpose, which he never intended for us to do alone. Jesus said he only did what he saw his Father doing. An adult son of God and co-heir in Christ is restored to the family business. Your role in this season grows out of connecting the desires of your heart and innate abilities God gave you to work with, and a prophetically determined understanding of what God is up to in the world. There is a bridge there to be built and God uses his Grace and his righteousness to build that bridge. 

It will involve you building skills through perhaps thousands of hours of practice (honing your natural ability) or it might involve getting a degree/certification so the world acknowledges your right to serve in your role. It will involve solving problems for other people though we’re often tempted to make a lot out of that. Helping others is both noble and a source of income, however its an outcome. The time to consider outcomes is during planning and periodic review. We can’t focus on outcomes during performance or we’ll get so in our head we lose traction. 

Are you saying what I think you’re saying?

Yes! I’m literally saying that the key to getting into a state of flow in every area of your life is to stop focusing on your outcome in that area and start focusing on what you and God are doing together.  

There are several awesome definitions for Grace, and for Righteousness, but the combination of the two forces is a realignment of you between the design God had for you and what he’s doing right now. Setting our own goals the way the world does, by looking for the outcomes you want and creating a ladder that should lead you incrementally toward it, won’t work. Worse its a form of pride and self-righteousness. When we accept Grace then our own shortcomings stop applying. When we work in God’s righteousness then we are realigned as a conduit of what God is doing on Earth. See the graphic* 

Winning the Core Struggle of Christianity

Andy Bunch

(Note this is part 1 of 2 on this topic. Here’s the link to the second part when it posts.)

Like most human beings, we Christians want to figure out how to live abundantly. We want an amazing relationship with a loving spouse, to make money doing something we’re good at and that helps people, we want to be physically healthy and emotionally strong enough to deal with life without losing our positivity. 

This won’t seem very exotic, but the answer is living by faith. 

Now there is more to it, give me a second to explain. 

Sometimes we’ve heard the same thing in religious circles so much that it loses it’s impact. For example, the term Christian means being like Christ. At a 50,000 foot level every Christian has the purpose of becoming transformed to the image of Christ. 

I don’t know about you but I’ve heard pastors say that and wanted to gag. I want to be me. I want to have a special purpose on Earth. I feel like a puzzle piece in search of the puzzle that’s missing me–a place where what makes me come alive meets the needs of those around me in a way that just by being me I can point them to God. That excites me. Jesus was awesome, but trying to emulate him doesn’t excite me. I actually hope, and this feels awful to say but it’s true, I’m not that excited to be crucified for something I didn’t do.

I know I know…

I’m grateful that Jesus did that and I do want to love the way he loved, but being Christlike means something other than walking around in sandals, telling stories, getting crucified etc. Christ means anointed and Jesus exemplified a spirit-filled life. One of purpose. He was an adult son of God who saw what the father was up to and did likewise on Earth–which was how he brought God’s Kingdom to Earth. 

God probably has a slightly different purpose for me, even though the effect will be bringing His Kingdom to Earth. 

Why am I rabbit trailing about purpose?

Because the shortcut answer to how to have abundant life is to pursue your purpose. 

Let that sink in. 

It’s never about losing weight, going to bed on time, communicating with your spouse, etc. those might be things you need to do to work on that particular area of life, but think of the those things like branches on a tree. You won’t find success in those branches until you have a healthy trunk–which is pursuing your purpose with God. 

There’s several ways to look for your purpose. I love teaching those ways, but step one isn’t examining your passions or writing your story etc.

The Foundation for Finding your Purpose

So the oversimplified way to state this is learning to live by faith, which sounds really religious. It conjures to mind 30 day fasts and casting out demons or worse–don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t be friends with those who do. So gross. 

Living by faith is something we Christians talk about when we’re going to preach on avoiding sin. 

Here’s what I mean. God’s love looks like something. He’s your partner. He’s your power. He’s your provision. He’s your portion. 

What if you believed that God was providing for you abundantly. Would it be easier to eat less if you really know God was going to feed you again very soon? Would it be easier to be patient with your relationships if you knew there was enough time, money, energy to still get everything done you need to do. 

What does it look like to partner with God in every area of your life? What’s it like to actually treat your job as if you’re working for Jesus instead of that Jerk who calls himself your boss? What if stewardship isn’t just gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to be responsible. What if you really felt like you don’t own any of your stuff it’s just on loan from God for you to enjoy and innvest (without fear of losing it)? 

There is so much to learning to live by faith, it’s about changing the lens through which you view yourself and everything else. 

Think of it this way, God wants to give you everything you ask for (all your heart desires), but first he has to bring you to a place where you ask for the right things (not things that woud destroy you). 

What if religion has completely failed to train you what you should ask for because religion has it’s own agenda? 

God is faithful to complete the good work he’s begun in you. 

So what is Step One?

You need context. You need to know who God is for you outside of religion. You need to know…
who you are,
where you are,
how you got here,
where you want to go and
a little about what might get you there. 

Then you need to surrender everything to God and be willing to take some baby steps. Let’s talk, use the contact form on the website or email me…