Think back to the last time you set goals for yourself, whether spiritual, personal, or professional. Perhaps you created an inspiring vision board, drafted a bold bucket list, spoke with an accountability partner, or simply cranked out a to-do list. While processing your aspirations, you were likely nervous and excited to think about tangible steps you could take toward new, fulfilling realities. Yet, days, weeks, months, or years later, your diligence and enthusiasm waned. Your focus became overwhelmed by factors like fear and fleeting pleasures. You gradually diverged from your goals, and ultimately doubted your ability to make any substantial, positive changes.
Though this experience is definitely discouraging, it happens more often than we may think. We can find solace in knowing that we are not alone when we encounter setbacks and distractions. America is arguably especially prone to distractions with our faster paced routines, technological advances, and the temptation to “get rich or die tryin’”.
Thankfully though, we are not without agency to keep distractions from deterring us completely. We can be more intentional about growing in faith, and operating from a God-centered foundation to shape and pursue our goals. Taking initiative in this light might entail:
Transforming Your Mindset
In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul wrote to express gratitude and encourage them as believers in Jesus Christ. He gave motivational insight when he said,
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8, New Living Translation)
Paul urged believers to concentrate their minds on specific, positive things – not abstract “happy thoughts”, but the truth of God’s word and the Good News about Jesus. Transforming our thoughts is a daily process that we must surrender to God. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Investing in our relationship with God and being receptive to how God works through others (pastors, mentors, therapists, etc.) can monumentally shift our mindset.
No matter the situation, God is always with us. In Psalm 139:7, David even exclaimed, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!” To remain focused on His presence and direction in our lives, it is essential to cultivate daily moments of solitude. Jesus’ prayer life is a prime example of this necessary practice. Prior to making any important choice, he would spend time in prayer. Before choosing his 12 disciples, the gospel of Luke states, “One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night (Luke 6:12). Jesus’ example shows us that quiet time helps us to remain in awe of God, prioritize His guidance, and not feel defeated by voices unaligned with His word.
Solitude or “quiet time” with God can vary for each person, depending on circumstance and preference. It can take place in:
- Nature – Do you have a favorite park or area near your home where you can regularly go to meditate on God’s word and pray?
- Your car – Do you have a daily commute to and from work? You could use that time to listen to a sermon, an audible of the Bible, or inspiring worship music. You could also pray while driving or recite Bible verses for motivation.
- Your home – Is there a private space in your home where you can spend time with God? It could even be a closet like in the film War Room or a bathroom – so long as you’re comfortable and alone.
- Your workplace – Perhaps, you have your own office, or there’s a room at your job that no one else uses during their lunch break. If you struggle to fit in solitude to your morning and evening routines, using your break to deepen your faith can be another option.
Rethinking What We Seek
In our lives, we may spend most of our time looking for everything but God: relationships, ways to please others, material success, safety, and the list goes on. While these things are not inherently bad, we are called to seek God first. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need”. When we earnestly seek God more than anything else, our faith can live on. It can carry us through any situation or goal that God is calling us to accomplish:
“It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).
Motivating Each Other
Finally, we cannot endure hardships and grow in character alone. We can try enacting the aforementioned suggestions, but we will not succeed without considerate support systems. Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let’s us think of ways to motivate one another to a of love and good works”. We are called to creatively help each other live out our faith with actions and goals rooted in love.
We will inevitably face distractions and setbacks. Yet, be encouraged that every new moment presents an opportunity to reset and refocus on what matters most.