Listen to almost any coach or athlete heading into a new season and the word “goals” is likely to come up. Goals around team chemistry, improvement on the court/field, and winning.
Goals are tough. They demand us to challenge ourselves, to develop a plan for success, and to persevere. But they're important at helping us grow.
We may not always think to look at the Bible when it comes to advice for reaching our goals, but there's some sage advice to be found in the scriptures. Most notably, looking at the life of Nehemiah.
You may remember Nehemiah's story. He was a Jew living in Babylon, serving as an adviser to King Artaxerxes. Upon hearing that the wall surrounding his home city of Jerusalem had been destroyed, Nehemiah had a wild dream: get the king's blessing to go back home and rebuild it. Here are four key pieces of advice we can take from Nehemiah’s life.
1) Have a plan (Nehemiah 2:11-18). Before boldly approaching the king's throne for permission to go rebuild the Jerusalem wall, Nehemiah boldly approached the throne of God with prayer, seeking His help. Nehemiah then spent several days in Jerusalem inspecting the wall so he would know the best way to go about fixing it. He knew exactly what materials he would need and how many laborers would be required to get the work done. Nehemiah had a clear plan.
2) Don't do it alone (Nehemiah 3:1-32). Nehemiah 3 is full of the names of people who helped Nehemiah fix the wall. He knew he couldn’t fix it alone. He needed helpers! No matter what goals you have planned for the upcoming season, it's always great to have a helping hand in the process. Even if it's just having someone to pray for you and keep you accountable in reaching your goal, seek out help. Your goals will become much more achievable.
3) Guard against discouragement (Nehemiah 4:7-15). Not everyone was pleased with what Nehemiah was doing. Several enemies of Jerusalem were angry that the wall was being rebuilt. When Nehemiah learned about this, he stationed armed guards at the weaker parts of the gate to keep enemies from doing anything to stop the work on the wall! As you strive to meet goals, don't let anything or anyone discourage you. Ask God to help you persevere in the days you feel like throwing in the towel.
4) Avoid distractions (Nehemiah 6:1-4). As the wall neared completion, Nehemiah continued to be faced with opposition. At one point, one of the enemy leaders requested Nehemiah to come down from the wall and meet with him. Nehemiah responded, saying "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" (v. 3). Nehemiah knew the main priority was completing the wall. He wasn't willing to let anything stand in the way of that. Focus on the goals you have, the ones you know will help make your season better. Don't let anything big or small distract you from your work, and make this season one of your best ever!