What does the Bible have to say on the subject of goal-setting, or “having a vision”?

How important is it for Christians to have a vision?

In the business world, and in the personal development and self-help movements, it is common to promote the setting of goals. Defining objectives is considered foundational to directing individual and corporate efforts. In Christian circles the usual way of describing this is as “having, or getting, a vision”. In other words, setting one’s mind and heart on a desired future outcome. The only goal or vision that counts in the Christian life is that His Kingdom come in the hearts of all people and His will be done [Matthew 6:10, 2 Peter 3:9].

Matthew 6:10

“Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

2 Peter 3:9

He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

It is remarkable that in the Bible, which addresses every aspect of life, and the ways of God, there is not one word on goal setting.

The verse that is quoted by some ministers, in support of a teaching on setting goals, is:

“Without a vision the people perish.”

The quotation is from the King James Bible. It is not an accurate translation from the original Hebrew text, in the way we would understand it in modern English usage.

The words are found in Proverbs 29:18.

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint ...

Up-to-date versions of the Bible translate this to bring out the true meaning. It is not intended as a proposition to encourage goal-setting, but as the truth that without the revelation, and implied admonition, of the Old Testament prophets who received the Word of God, the people would have had no restraint on their behaviour.

The focus of the Christian life is Jesus Christ and His glory – nothing more and nothing less.

Psst! Here’s a thought.

Nowhere does the Bible say that God helps those who help themselves. In fact, from the recorded history of Israel to the redemption that Jesus won for us on the cross, the message of the Bible is that God helps those who come to realise that they desperately need His help.

Relax. Statistically, it’s 99% sure you will die, not on the run but in your sleep.

The Western World is driven by a need to perform and to achieve.

Why strive so? If God is not doing anything, eat an ice-cream and be happy.

Lest you birth an Ishmael.

Psst again! This is what the Bible says about your plans and dreams.

Ecclesiastes 5:7

Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.