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Setting Goals to Build up Others Instead of Yourself

By: Jordan Sparnroft

We all like to think about the physical and practical changes we want to make at the start of a new year. Lose weight, pay off debt, cut out sugar, declutter, etc. We prefer to make changes that we can feel and see. Changes which will benefit us directly and build us up in the eyes of others.

As I consider setting goals this year, I will also examine my motives. Do my goals build myself up or do they uplift those around me?

Shifting my focus from myself to others—here are three things I don’t want to do again in 2022:

1. I don’t want to acquire debt and hoard money— I want to be a faithful steward.

In 2021, I struggled to honor God with my finances. I hoarded and spent with the focus of building my own kingdom and not His. The first thing I want to do in 2022 is start paying off debt. Why? So, I can give more freely as God calls me to. I need to remember all I have comes from God and I’m called be a good steward to honor Him.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV)

2. I don’t want to be a peacekeeper— I want to be a peacemaker.

I HATE conflict and I’m terrified of it. I love peace and will do anything to keep it. In 2021, I learned the difference between being a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. God doesn’t expect us to do everything we can to keep peace. But he does call us to make peace even if it entails facing conflict head on and not running cowardly in the passive aggressive direction. In the past, I’ve made having peace with others an idol. I have withheld telling the hard truth to people.

Jesus tells us we will have conflict in this life, especially when we preach the gospel. In 2022, I want to be a peacemaker. I want to strive for peace as far as it depends on me—even if that means dealing with conflict head on. In turn, this is loving others more than my need for everyone to like me and my want for a conflict-free life.

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19 ESV)

3. I don’t want to be a taskmaster— I want to be a humble servant.

I have relied too much on my own strength to get things done. Any time there is a deadline in front of me with a long list of tasks, I begin to eat the bread of anxious toil. I wake up early and go to bed late working myself into a complete tizzy without ever once pausing and asking my Savior for help. I want to cross the items off of the list to prove my productive worth to others. I don’t trust He will give me the energy, time, and resources to get it all done. I see the interruptions from my family and my students as inconveniences holding me back from crossing tasks off of my list.

Instead, I should begin my day asking, “God, may the tasks you want to get done be completed. Even the ones that aren’t on this list.” In 2022, when I am bombarded with tasks and deadlines, I want to commit them all to the Lord. I want to steward the time, energy, and resources Jesus gives me well and trust whatever it is He wants me to do will get done—if it doesn’t, I’ll trust He had something better in mind. 

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;

for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:1-2)

Application Question:

  • When setting your goals for the New Year, ask yourself—Am I motivated to build myself up or the Kingdom of God?

If the answer is yourself, ask God to change your heart, not merely the goal.


Lives in historic central Virginia with her husband and daughter. She is a first grade teacher at a Christian school, and loves early mornings and spending time with her family. 

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