Being Led by God in Goal Setting

It’s getting to the season when so many of us look forward to the fresh start of the new year. I seem to look forward to the fresh start of each new season. Every few months I am looking for ways to set new goals (though I could definitely use some better structure in that department). I am excited for the new year, and in doing that I am reflecting on the way I changed goal-setting for my kids this year.

Parents are under so much pressure. SO. MUCH. PRESSURE. The comparison game is real, getting your kids ahead of the kids next door, helping your kids develop their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses. Ahh . . . commence overwhelm. I like to take things slow and all this pressure?? It just freezes me. I don’t do anything productive under pressure. I’m the person who will take longer to get ready when I’m in a hurry. I cannot function with stress. (I’m not sure many of us can.)

I know, I know, the best and the brightest get the best jobs, have the best future, so our kids have to be the best. But what if that’s not what matters? What if we focus on who God wants them to be? On who God wants us to be?

This year in my goals I’ve let go of external expectations and focused on God’s expectations. He gave me these children, so what does he want me to help them become? And you know what? It’s been more about me and the way I nurture them. God has guided me in increasing my compassion, my humility, and changing my approach to motherhood. When I focus on being what God wants me to be, my kids bloom. We all grow together. It has been amazing, miraculous, and full of joy.

Instead of reading novels, I’ve been reading scripture, nonfiction history books, and parenting books. (That’s not to say that novels aren’t good, because they definitely have an important place in this family!) Instead of teaching reading, I have been reading. I have learned so much, and as I share that passion with my kids, my oldest is teaching himself to read. I didn’t know that was possible, but I’m watching it happen. (If you want to know more about that read this and this*.) I’m focusing on values, work, and lots of free play time, which gives me time to be tutored by the Lord.

In that tutoring I am strengthening my own faith and foundation. The Spirit whispers for me to trust God. I know there is time for my kids to develop the gifts God has given them. He will lead them to their strengths. He will help them overcome their weaknesses. But he can’t do that if they don’t know him, if they don’t trust him. In order for me to help them know him . . . I have to know him. So our goals this year have been more about my learning. And then I follow up with, how can I share what I’ve learned with my kids?

So here’s my question: What do you really want for your kids? Do you want what God wants?

We want a lot of things. We want our kids to be successful. We want them to not get behind get ahead of the other kids. We want them to be confident. But when it comes right down to it, what do we want the most?

What I really want is for my kids to have a firm foundation so that they can follow the path God has for them. I want them to be independent, to gain values intrinsically—to have integrity, to do the right thing because they want to, not because someone (myself included) is watching. I want them to discover their divine gifts, talents, and abilities and develop those. I want them to use their gifts and skills to serve people around them, to lift Heavenly Father’s children and to do God’s work.

When I think of our goals this way, my worries fade. My son is behind the kids his age in reading because we’re doing homeschool differently than the mainstream. But I don’t worry about that. I remember that now is the time for trusting God. And he’s not telling me to push academics. He’s telling me to focus on values and work. So that’s what I’m doing.

I gain a huge perspective and I remember what our long-range goals are:

I don’t care how much money my kids make, but I hope they will give of their want to those in need.

I don’t care what field they choose to work in, as long as they labor in the Lord’s vineyard.

It don’t care how much prestige they have, but I hope they always look up to God.

Not only does this help me set my worries aside, but I’ve found that having a long-term focus helps me to set the best goals—goals that really take us where God wants us to be. In these early years of our homeschool, our relationship with God is what matters. I trust that everything else (academics included) will grow out of that.

I always take time to pray about our goals and plans, to make sure we’re on the path God wants us to be on because I do not know what I’m doing most of the time, but I trust him. God leads everyone to a different place, but I promise he will lead you. You might not homeschool. You might follow the mainstream. But if your focus is on God, you won’t go astray.

We all stumble, and sometimes he lets us, but he helps us all find our way. I hope that we’re humble enough to ask what his goals are for us and for our children and we make those our focus, too. God can help us accomplish things in our lives that are SO much bigger than being ahead of the curve or getting an elite education or becoming a millionaire.

He can do incredible things in all of our lives, if we let him.

*I don’t ascribe to all of the methods {or lack thereof} of the author. Yet it is helpful for me to know that kids can teach themselves to read. I offer support as my son asks, and I provide materials to help inspire him to read. He likes to go at his own pace, and I don’t push. He has strong opinions about being told what to do, and I follow God’s guidance and only require things like work at home and kindness. Academics can wait and I trust he will require reading of himself at some point. This works for us. Do what works for you.

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