Whenever a new year begins, many people start off with a list of resolutions and goals. They typically include things like eating healthier, losing weight, saving money, learning something new, traveling, etc.
Although, I used to be a huge fan of setting resolutions, in recent years God has shown me clearly through His Word what we as Christians really need to focus on – spiritual goals.
In this post we will look specifically at what spiritual goals are from a biblical perspective, why they are more important than any other goals we may have, and the two essential spiritual goals that every Christian should have.
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- What are Spiritual Goals?
- Why are Spiritual Goals Important?
- The Essential Spiritual Goals for Every Christian
- 1. Read God’s Word Regularly
- 2. Talk to God Regularly
- All Other Spiritual Goals Are Secondary to Your Time With God
What are Spiritual Goals?
Depending on who you talk to, spiritual goals may be called biblical goals, faith goals, Christian goals, or some variation thereof. Spiritual goals are typically geared towards helping us deepen our relationship with God and strengthen our walk with Him.
This could include anything that helps us know God more or enhances our Christian lives to become more like Christ.
Why are Spiritual Goals Important?
Most goals that people set tend to fall into the categories of physical, mental, social, relational, financial, educational, vocational or leisure. And every single one of those categories are important to some degree. However, for Christians spiritual goals should always be prioritized above others. Period.
This is not a man-made mandate, but rather one that the bible consistently teaches. According to Scripture, the wisest man apart from Jesus, who ever lived, was King Solomon (1 Kings 3:5-12). And he wrote this:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV
And the wisest person – Jesus Christ – said this:
Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.Matthew 6:33 AMP
Solomon said that fearing God (having an awe-filled reverence and respect for Him) and obeying His commands is the duty of mankind. Jesus went further to say we shouldn’t even be worried about food or clothes because those basic life necessities are what pagans (non-Christians) run after. Instead, Christians should first and foremost seek after God’s kingdom and righteousness.
The word seek, by definition, means to attempt to find, obtain or achieve something. So according to Scripture, rather than seeking after the things of this world, we should be seeking the things of God more than anything else. And when we do that EVERYTHING else will fall into place!
Yes, taking care of ourselves, our kids, our pets, our homes, and our finances are important. And yes, we may have to work, do grocery shopping, run errands, and all the things of life. And yes, the days can get super busy and tiring. But NONE of those things are good excuses for putting our spiritual growth on the back burner.
Oftentimes, we get burdened down thinking that spiritual goals equate to a long list of things we must do on top of the long list of things that we already have to do for everyday life. But the good news is that there are only two essential spiritual goals that every Christian should have.
Let’s dive into them now.
The Essential Spiritual Goals for Every Christian
In almost every Christian article, blog, or social media post you will come across, you will typically see a variation of the following on a list of suggestions or examples of spiritual goals:
- Find ways to practice gratitude daily
- Look for people to show kindness to
- Start a prayer journal
- Join a bible study group
- Increase your giving at church
The most recent post that I read was a list of 50 Spiritual Goals to help “kickstart” your spiritual growth. I even came across a “spiritual goal formation assessment” to help you figure out what areas of your spiritual life to work on.
In and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with making a list of spiritual goals. However, what I have found is that we end up just making another checklist, all while neglecting the things that matter the most.
I want to simplify the list of 1000 possible things and narrow them down to what I believe Scripture teaches are the two essential spiritual goals that every Christian should have. For it is from these that all the others will naturally develop.
1. Read God’s Word Regularly
The absolute most essential thing you MUST do to enhance your spiritual growth as a Christian is to read God’s Word regularly. This is not a recommendation or a suggestion. It is a MUST – according to Scripture!
The Bible is Our Spiritual Food
Let’s start with way back in the Old Testament days when God Himself first gave the nation of Israel His laws:
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.Deuteronomy 8:1-4 NIV
God makes it clear that we don’t live on food alone for sustenance, but as Christians we also live on the Word of God for spiritual food. And did you catch that last sentence? The part where he met their “other” needs along the way also. It’s the same message as the verse we looked at from Matthew. When we put God first, He will always take care of the rest.
Fast forward to the New Testament when Jesus had just finished fasting for forty days and was tested by the devil in the wilderness:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of GodMatthew 4:1-4 NIV
There are a few things I want to point out from this passage:
- Jesus was in fact hungry (as we all would have been after fasting for 40 days).
- The devil then preyed on that specific physical weakness telling him to turn the stones into bread so he can eat.
- Jesus being Jesus could have done exactly that, but instead resisted the temptation of the devil by speaking the Word of God (“it is written…..” – he was quoting the verse we looked at above from Deuteronomy).
- If you read the remainder of the passage (Matthew 4:1-11) you will see that the devil tried to tempt Jesus to utilize his divine power two more times. However, each time, Jesus utilizes the Word of God to resist him to the point that the devil eventually leaves him alone.
If Jesus himself used the Word of God to sustain him at a time where he was physically weak and hungry, and to thwart the temptation of the devil, why do we feel we can effectively live our Christian lives with everything but God’s Word?
In the hustle culture of today, many Christians are more than okay with going days, weeks, months, even years without ever reading their bibles. And sadly, many either don’t realize how spiritually malnourished they are, or they just don’t care.
Going back to the “why” behind having spiritual goals, remember that God wants us to seek Him and His righteousness. Fear God and keep His commandments – that is our duty, right? So please tell me how ANY Christian can do that without regularly reading God’s Word?
To what other source are we supposed to go in order to seek God and His righteousness? How do we learn what it even means to fear Him? How do we know what commandments we’re supposed to keep if we don’t read His Word? (NOTE: it’s not just the ten commandments you may have memorized as a kid in Sunday school).
If we truly desire to grow spiritually, we should crave the Word of God:
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.2 Peter 2:2 NIV
Reading the Bible Should Be a Lifelong Pursuit
Going back to Matthew 6:33, the tense of the verb seek used in that verse denotes an ongoing action. It is not something we do once a week on Sundays, or once a month when we feel like it, or occasionally when things are going wrong in our lives, and we have nowhere else to turn.
Seeking God through His Word should be a lifelong pursuit for every Christian. Why? Because in case you haven’t noticed, we need God EVERY SINGLE DAY! And I guarantee you, that when we seek, we will find!
- You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV
- Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Psalm 105:4 NIV
- I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. Psalm 119:10 NIV
- The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Lamentations 3:25 NIV
- And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV
It doesn’t matter if are a brand-new Christian or have been one for decades. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never read one verse in the bible or if you have read the entire bible 20 times. It doesn’t matter if you are a non-church goer or a pastor of a mega church. Every single Christian should always be seeking God!
One of the characteristics of the Word of God by nature is that it is inexhaustible. That means we will never know everything there is to know about God.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and decisions and how unfathomable and untraceable are His ways!Romans 11:33 AMP
This is why you can read the bible or certain stories in the bible over and over again, and still learn something new every time.
God has revealed so much about Himself in His Word, and He wants us to make a lifelong pursuit of knowing Him as much as we can – to learn who He is, His character, His Word, and His will for our lives.
To NOT seek God is to have the mindset of a non-Christian:
The wicked, in the haughtiness of his face, will not seek nor inquire for Him; All his thoughts are, “There is no God [so there is no accountability or punishment].”Psalm 10:4 AMP
All Other Christian Literature is Secondary to the Bible
I say this next part with nothing but love. If all you have ever read or are currently reading are devotional books, or books from Christian authors – that is NOT the same as reading the Bible.
Let that sink in for a moment.
I realize that devotional books and books written by Christian authors include verses and references from the Bible. However, they are not the Bible – the Word of God.
If we ever get to the point where we place value in ANY other Christian resource above and beyond the actual Word of God, we run the risk of relying on those things solely for our spiritual sustenance. And that is not what the bible teaches us to do.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not by any means saying or even suggesting that Christians should stop utilizing devotional books or any other Christian resources. I own a ton of them. Between physical books and audio books, I read at least a dozen a year. Not to mention the fact that I wrote and published a book myself.
All those things are resources that can be used in conjunction with or in addition to the actual Word of God, but they should NEVER be a replacement for the Bible. I personally would never recommend my own book or any other “Christian” resource above the Bible. And we should be cautious of anyone who does.
A devotional or resource is written from the author’s interpretation of Scripture, whereas the bible itself is the inspired Word of God. One of the benefits of reading the bible is that we learn to discern teachings about the Word of God that may be false. You could be reading a devotional or Christian book that mentions things that don’t align with Scripture, but you wouldn’t even notice if you aren’t spending time reading the Bible itself.
Don’t Make Excuses for NOT Reading the Bible Regularly
Lastly, don’t let not knowing where to start, or not being able to understand the bible, be the excuses that you use to never making reading the bible a priority.
I recommend reading my post: 4 Simple Steps to Begin Reading the Entire Bible. It talks about what the bible is all about, how to choose what version to read, how to select a simple reading plan, the difference between reading and studying the bible, and how to pray for understanding and a desire to read the bible.
For those of you who may already have a regular bible reading routine, I would suggest trying something new. Maybe there are books of the bible you have never read. Or maybe you have only ever read the New Testament but not the Old Testament. Maybe you have never read the entire bible before.
And if you have read through the entire bible – read it again! Try reading from a different version. My absolute favorite way to read through the entire bible is with the One Year Chronological Bible because you read through the events in the order they historically happened which helps to better understand the overall story of Scripture.
If you’re not a big reader, or are always on the go, try listening to the bible. This has been my method for the last two years since I started driving full-time with Uber. There are several audio options available.
Maybe you have a specific topic you want to study. Struggling with your finances? Try doing a study on money from a biblical perspective instead of reading all the “get rich quick” books available or searching Facebook for tips from Dave Ramsey. The list of things to study is endless.
I also have several other posts related to Learning the Bible and an online course as well – Learning the Bible 101: Benefits, Methods, and Hindrances.
The key is to commit and just get started!
2. Talk to God Regularly
The other spiritual goal that is essential for every Christian is prayer – talking to God. And this goes hand in hand with reading the bible regularly.
Too often we excel only in doing one or the other. However, building our relationship with God requires both. The main way we hear from God is through His Word, and God hears from us through prayer.
God Wants Us to Talk to Him
Just like reading the bible, talking to God is something God wants us to do regularly:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
I find it ironic, how we as Christians spend so much time trying to figure out what God’s will is for our lives, when there are several verses in the bible like this one that tells us exactly what God’s will is for us.
Prayer is God’s will for every Christian. He wants to hear from us. Not occasionally, but continually!
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.Hebrews 4:16 NIV
God has given us permission not only to talk to Him, but to approach Him with confidence.
Talk to God About Everything
Why is it that instead of talking to God about our worries, anxieties, fears, problems, and struggles, we talk to everyone else? We go to family, friends, the internet, social media, our therapist, and self-help books first.
I’m not saying never utilize other people and resources for help or guidance. I am saying that first and foremost we should be talking to God about everything – good or bad.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.Philippians 4:6 NIV
Talk to Him about how grateful you are for His provision in your life. Give him thanks for a prayer He may have recently answered. Thank him for teaching you something new in His Word, for His guidance, for His protection, for His love and mercy. Talk to him about an important decision you have to make. Ask him for strength, guidance and peace of mind when needed.
But also talk to Him about your nagging spouse, your child who may have disappointed you recently, your porn addiction, your struggle with keeping a positive attitude, your health issues, your failures, your financial issues, the coworker who constantly gossips about you, or your constant car maintenance problems.
Talk to God Anytime and Anywhere
Do you realize we can talk to God anytime or anywhere? Can you imagine if we had to wait until we got to a bible study, or church on Sunday just to be able to have a conversation with Him? Or if you could only do it while you were in a secluded place or by yourself?
As Christians we have the privilege of being able to talk to God always. You can pray while taking a shower, cleaning the house, at the grocery store, at school, at work, or while sitting in traffic.
You can talk to God first thing in the morning, mid-day, after dinner, and even in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep.
Unlike your parents, your spouse, your best friend, your pastor, your mentor, or your therapist, God is available 24/7 every single day!
How We Pray Will Change As We Grow Spiritually
The more we read the Bible regularly and learn about God and what He wants for and from us, the more it will affect how we talk to Him.
The way I pray and the things I pray for now are completely different from how I used to pray even a year ago.
And that’s because God has taught me through His Word that there are so many things that we tend to pray for that we don’t even need to pray for because He has already provided it. On the other hand, there are some things that we shouldn’t be praying for at all because the bible makes it clear that it’s either sin or not God’s will for us.
Then there are the things we pray for that we think God will give us, even though we spend little to no time reading His Word. For example, things like joy, peace, patience, and self-control according to Galatians 5:22-23 are fruits of the Spirit. Which means they can ONLY be developed in your life as a result of cultivating your relationship with God – by reading his Word and actually feeding your Spirit!
Then there are the promise verses we like to “claim” and pray for ourselves that we often pray out of context, like the one below:
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.Psalm 37:4 NIV
To take delight means to take great pleasure in. And the way we do that is by spending time with God reading His Word. We can’t say we are taking delight in the Lord, but have no interest in His Word.
Oh, but when we do take great pleasure in spending time with Him in His Word, it is then that we truly begin to grow spiritually. To the point that our desires actually begin to align with God’s – which is why He will grant us those desires.
The point is, the more time we spend with God, the more God will shape our thinking, our lives, and our prayers to align with His will for our lives.
There is no such thing as spending too much time reading the bible and talking to God. For those of you who already feel like you spend a decent amount of time in prayer, I say keep it up, and talk to Him even more!
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.Luke 5:16 NIV
If Jesus made it a point to talk to God the Father often, why in the world do we think we can get by without doing it regularly?
RECOMMENDED POST: How to Pray When You Have No Clue Where to Start
All Other Spiritual Goals Are Secondary to Your Time With God
All the other possible things you want to put on your list of spiritual goals stem from spending time with God by reading His Word and praying regularly. These two things are the root of spiritual growth in every area of your life. The more you deepen your relationship with God, the more the Holy Spirit will naturally start to change you in any area that you want to grow in.
Whether you want to work on being more kind, giving more, learning how to forgive, serving more in your local church, overcoming temptation, planning for the future, enhancing your relationship with your spouse, dealing with worry or anxiety, evangelism, or removing negative thoughts – find out what the bible has to say regarding that specific topic, and then talk to God about it regarding your specific situation.
I promise you, that a pursuit of any “spiritual goal” that is not rooted in Scripture will prove futile.
If we are not careful, we will fall into the trap of the enemy and start actually believing that we don’t need the Word of God to live a Christian life. That we can still be effective Christians while spending little to no time with God at all.
I encourage you today to make your personal time with God a priority. Make it your spiritual goal to spend time reading God’s Word and talking to Him regularly. And, if you need to, ask God to give you a desire for His Word:
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.Psalm 119:36-37 NIV
Once you begin there, I promise He will begin to do so much more in all the other areas of your life as well (physical, mental, relational, financial, vocational), just as He promised in His Word.
Encourage someone else today by sharing: