It’s now almost been two full months into this new year, how are your goals doing? It’s easy to be excited about growing and changing at the start of the year, but typically this is right about the time that those goals and pursuits begin to slow. So, how are you doing? Checking in on yourself is important because growth is important. I’ve found for me, I want to do all kinds of things and push myself into this person I think I should be, but often those standards are unattainable, so when I fail to hit that mark, I choose to stay complacent. There is a myriad of reasons why goals fail and a myriad of books to help with that, but I think the important part is understanding the “why” behind the goals.
We want to grow into better people, but we need to make sure we are growing in a healthy way.
There was a season in my life where I had just graduated high school and starting college. I knew ministry was my future, so every time an opportunity came up, I said yes. I kept saying yes, to the point where I was in school full time, working a part-time job, an internship, leading small groups, and heading up a college ministry. All good things, but I just kept saying yes, because that’s what I felt like would move me towards my ultimate goal. I was trying to grow, but it wasn’t healthy.
I started placing my worth in the things I was doing, and I believed that by being seen in ministry it would move me forward.
Ultimately, that wasn’t the case. I was stretched to the limit and hadn’t set boundaries in my life, and whether intentional or unintentional, people were taking advantage of my lack of boundaries. I was burnt out and since my self-worth was tied up in what others thought of me, I ended up struggling mentally. Anxiety was a constant and causing me to be exhausted. What I found during that time was that my heart was in the right place, but I wasn’t pursuing healthy growth.
The secret to healthy growth is abiding in Christ and the rest will follow.
John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” When it comes to setting and following up on goals, setting boundaries, and ultimately having healthy growth; it must be rooted to the source. In my seasons of busyness, I tend to stray away from my relationship with Christ, and life always gets harder. That’s because I’m not staying connected to the source of true life. It’s so simple! Yet, at the same time this is a difficult habit to get into.
Our healthy growth directly correlates to our relationship with Jesus.
In that season of saying yes to way too many things, I learned that just doing more wasn’t going to make me better. I learned that when I focus on what God is trying to do in me, I begin saying yes to the right things and letting some things go. What happens when we make our relationship with Jesus the priority, we are able to establish our identity in what He has called us into. What I am continuing to learn is that I need to focus on my relationship, so that I know what to say yes to and what to pursue, which ultimately increases a healthy growth lifestyle.
Life will never be perfect and there will be days when the goals we have set end up failing apart, but the one constant we can trust is Jesus. When that relationship is your focus, your identity is rooted in the source of life. Any other source of your identity will fall apart, but Jesus remains the same. Healthy growth takes time and requires us to be consistently being fed from the source that gives life.
Whatever your goals might be, and even if they have started to fall off since the new year, make the choice to have healthy growth. Abide in Christ and invest in that relationship. This year I wanted to focus on being faithful, and that requires me to have trust in Jesus completely. It is only through that complete trust that healthy growth comes in.
About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__