Heidi: Hello, everyone! It is so good to be with you on our podcast today. I just say, “Welcome!” Wherever you are this morning, it’s nice to be, or this even this afternoon, it’s nice to be able to spend time with you. Heidi Howerton is here with my wonderful, wise friend.
Jani: Heidi, I’m Jani Ortlund but don’t listen to all she says. We have to take this with a grain of salt. But go ahead, dear co-host.
Heidi: I was gonna say, “With my wonderful, wise friend.” We were just praying and talking before we got on the podcast today, just as you guys know, all the different things going on in the world. And Jani just pointed me back to Christ and just reminded me that no matter what happens in our lives, my soul finds rest in God alone. And I’m just so grateful for your wisdom, Jani, that no matter what happens today, or tomorrow, or next week that our souls can find rest in God.
Jani: Hm, well, I’m so grateful for that verse, Heidi (Psalm 62:1). So often I have to turn there, especially, as you say, in these crazy days, oh my goodness.
Our Topic today: Revisiting “Lifetime Goals”
Well, you all have hopefully had a good Christmas. Maybe it looked a little different for you. You might not have been able to gather with family as you had hoped to, maybe some of you were able to. But we are looking into our new year of 2021 now and Heidi and I want to encourage you about something that we have both found very helpful. It doesn’t come from us. We’ve received this from an older woman who happened to be my mother-in-law, Anne Ortlund. Oh, what a godly lady she was. She’s been with Jesus now seven years, and we miss her still. But we’re so grateful for her life.
Several years ago, I was only 25. So that was back in the dark ages, but she encouraged me to prayerfully consider setting lifetime goals, and then to start living my life accordingly. And Heidi and I have talked about this before on He Restores My Soul. But we may very well come back to it yearly. It’s one of those things that Heidi and I, we look over our goals each year, don’t we, Heidi?
Heidi: Yes, we do. I was the one that encouraged Jani to do this this year. I said, “Jani, I think we need to come back to life goals.” I think life goals help keep me centered, help keep my eyes on Christ, and they help me continue moving forward. And as we’ve talked about many times, Jani, if we don’t keep our life goals in front of us and our short term goals, it’s so easy to get distracted by all the other things in life that feel so urgent. And many times we can let the urgent things take precedence over the priority things. And so it just helps me every January to sit down and look at my life goals and my short term goals and to pray about “God, where would you have us go this year?” And so I thought it would be helpful for us to revisit that again.
Jani: Well, I thank you for that encouragement. And I thank, again, Mom Ortlund for her helping us get started in this.
Heidi: I wish I could meet Anne Ortlund—one day in heaven I’m going to meet her and give her the biggest hug and say, “This was one of my favorite lessons you ever wrote.”
Jani: Well, Heidi, let’s have a cup of tea with her together, okay? I would love that.
“What do you mean by ‘Noble’ plans?”
We want to encourage you as our listeners to think through Lifetime Goals with us. Because if you know Jesus, he is your elder brother. Romans 8:29 teaches us that he became,
“…the firstborn among many brothers.”Romans 8:29
We’re his brother or sister as it is. That makes you a daughter of the king of the universe. Oh my goodness! A member of the family of greatest nobility ever. We don’t want to be women who just drift along year to year, spinning our wheels. We want to live noble, beautiful, significant, meaningful lives, and that will take some forethought. You don’t live a significant life haphazardly.
Heidi: I love, Jani, how Isaiah 32:8 puts it this way,
“But he who is noble plans noble things,Isaiah 32:8
and on noble things he stands.”
Jani: Yeah, that’s so good, Heidi:.Noble. He who is noble and you are noble because you belong to the king. And so let’s learn to stand on noble things in these coming days. What noble plans will you make for this coming year? What noble things will you stand on? Let’s think of this new year as a fresh new gift from God. Don’t we need that, Heidi?
Heidi: Oh, I was gonna say what an amazing gift to think a fresh new year from God after 2020 just went in so many different directions that none of us were expecting.
Jani: Yes, yes, let’s be women who who take that gift, receive it as a gift from the Lord and learn to steward it for Him for His glory which will become our joy.
3 Recommendations as you start to Plan
Now, Heidi, and I think through some questions, that helps us plan and stand on noble things, maybe they’ll help you as well.
#1 – Think about the last 5 years?“
We like to think about our lives five years ago in 2015. So we would encourage you to think back over your life five years ago. What’s different about it now? What’s the same? Maybe some of you got married in the last five years. Maybe some of you had children. Maybe some of you changed work. Maybe there was some deaths in your family that really changed things. Some of you might have some things that are very much the same. Maybe you’re in the same job. Maybe…I don’t know. You think that through, it’s important for you to think that through.
#2 – Think about the next 5 years?“
And then we encourage you to think about your life five years from now in the year, what would that put us, 2025. What do you think in your life should remain the same between now and 2025? What should change? Ask yourself. What do you dream about? What dreams carry you from day to day? What motivates you? What thrills you and excites you? Heidi and I were talking about a change that might come in my life in the next few years and she’s asked me, “Jani, how do you feel about that? Does that encourage you? Does it motivate you?” That really helped me Heidi.
Heidi: It helps me when I think through things too. I love, God made each of us unique. He gave us different gifts and different passions and I think he did that for a reason. And so I love to just take a moment and stop and say, “God, who did you make me to be?” And often who God made me to be is, sometimes I feel like the mission that he has me on, and I praise him for that.
Jani: Yes, yes.
Think through, ask yourself, where do you suspect the Lord wants you to go in your life? How will you decide to say “Yes” or “No” to various opportunities, invitations that are presented to you?
3 – Think about your final days: “At the end of my life…”
And here’s one that I like to think through too. At the end of my life, what do I want to look back on? What would be satisfying to me to be able to look back on?
Heidi: I like that question, too. One of my favorite questions to ask myself is, “What do I want people to say at my funeral?” Or, “What do I hope that they would say about me?” Because that can show me areas that I can work on or continue progressing towards?
”To Plan or Not to plan” – what does the Bible say?
Well, this isn’t just an idea that mom Ortlund thought up or that Heidi and I are continuing to use. It does have a scriptural basis. King Solomon gives us encouragement on making plans. He says, In Proverbs 4:26,
“Ponder the path of your feet;Proverbs 4:26
then all your ways will be sure.”
That means secure, steady. He also says in Proverbs 21:5,
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,Proverbs 21:5
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
So he’s telling us to ponder, to plan, to bring the days, the weeks, the months, even the years ahead of you into focus as best you’re able. God created you—he created Heidi, he created me—for a kingdom-fulfilling purpose. Heidi, can you read Philippians 2:12-13 for us?
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”Philippians 2:12-13
Jani: Do you see the both/and there? It’s both us and God. I really want to emphasize this. It is work “out” not work “for”—we’re not working for our own salvation, we’re just figuring it out. We’re working it out day by day, month by month, year by year. That’s what our goals help us to do. To work out our own salvation.
I love these verses in Ephesians 5:15-17 where Paul encourages us,
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”Ephesians 5:15-17
Do you see that we are to look carefully and to make the best use of the time? Well, making goals helps us to do that.
“How do I get started making Goals?”
You might be thinking, “Well, this all sounds great, Jani, but how do I get started?” Well, Heidi and I encourage you to just begin with an open heart and a blank sheet of paper. You can prayerfully ask God, “Why did you make me Lord? Why did you call me to live at this time in history, in this very specific geographic location among these people? What is your will, Heavenly Father, for me in all of this?” And then begin to write down the answers he gives you? Are you single? Do you sense he wants you to be married? Do you want or do you already have children? Are you building a career? Or do you have financial resources that he’d like you to use? What gifts, what talents, what skills is he asking you to invest for him? Where? How? Do you see? These are the kinds of questions you can think to get started.
Heidi: I like to ask myself the questions, “What passions has God given me? What am I passionate about? What causes really excite me in my heart?” Or what are my giftings? What am I really gifted at? Am I an extrovert? Do I love talking to people and being around people.
You know, in my own life, I have a passion for discipleship. I felt it since I was in high school. I love meeting with other women. I love mentoring younger women. I love hearing what the Lord is doing in women’s lives. And so just making a list of what are our passions, what gives us joy in our hearts when I think through when I’m starting to write my life goals, too.
Jani: Yes. Oh, that’s good. That’s good.
Keep This in Mind As you Ponder & Plan
Well, dear listener as you ponder and plan, Heidi and I want to encourage you to always work under the umbrella that says, “If this is your will, Lord.” Proverbs 16:9 says,
“The heart of man plans his way,Proverbs 16:9
but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Or Psalm 138:8,
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;Psalm 138:8
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
Heidi: Oh I love that Bible verse, Jani. You know, so many times as women we can feel, “Lord, what am I doing with my life? Am I spending my days how you want me to?” Or even as a stay-at-home mom, I can feel that. So what a great verse to cling onto. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Jani: Hm, that’s a promise, isn’t it, Heidi. We can camp on that.
Examples of How to “Break Down” Your Lifetime Goals
Well, after you write your lifetime goals. You could just leave them there. They wouldn’t be worth much unless you start to break them down into measurable and sustainable, shorter term goals. What Heidi and I do is we take our lifetime goals and break them down into year goals, our goals for this coming year. And then we start to take our goals for this year and think, “Okay, what do I need to do these first three months or these first six months of the year?”
5 Examples from Jani’s 11 “Lifetime” Goals
Perhaps it would be helpful for our listeners, Heidi, if we gave them a sneak peek, again, into our goals, our lifetime goals and then see how we’ve broken them down into measurable goals for 2021.
Heidi: Yes, I’d love to hear what your goals are for 2021, Jani. Have you written those yet?
Jani: Well, I’ve written three or four here. I hesitate to share them for fear our listeners will hold me (or you might hold me) accountable. But I haven’t quite finalized them yet. But I’m happy to share where I am right now because goal writing is a process.
QUICK NOTE: “How many lifetime goals should I have?”
I might say that you don’t want to have 25 lifetime goals. Heidi and I think of our goals in terms of our three priorities, which is: Jesus, Community, and Mission (or Christ, the body of Christ and the work of Christ in the world). And I have three or four under each. So I have 11 lifetime goals. Heidi, how many do you have?
Heidi: I have 12 lifetime goals.
Jani: Yes, and I think that’s a manageable amount. All except one of my lifetime goals were written in January of 1975. I was 24 years old, I was married and teaching second grade in Dallas, Texas, while Ray finished seminary. I was in the middle of an extended and very painful miscarriage of our first child and medical personnel advised me that I might not be able to carry a baby full term. So here is some of what I wrote back then and how it is still shaping my life today.
Jani’s Lifetime Goal Example #1
My first lifetime goal is this:
“To abandon myself in seeking to know God by spending daily time with him.”
Now that’s taken different shape over the last several years but for 2021 my goal is to read the Bible through again this year, spending maybe 30 minutes six times a week in Bible reading, and to spend a minimum of 13 minutes a day in prayer, communing with God. That may sound wimpy, 13 minutes in prayer a day, that’s not a spiritual giant, but it’s where I am, dear ladies. I started eight years ago, convicted that I wasn’t praying enough, and I thought, “Five minutes, I can pray five minutes.” So eight years ago, I committed to praying five minutes, and then I thought, “Every year I’ll add a minute.” That was eight years ago so come this year now in 2021, I want to start praying 13 minutes a day. And I’m not being legalistic, I mean, I’ll sometimes set my timer, and ask the Lord to give me at least 13 minutes with him. Other times, it’s longer. Other times it’s less, but that’s my goal. I want to seek to know God by spending more time with him as I get older.
Jani’s Lifetime Goal Example #2
Another lifetime goal is,
“To spend my energies, however God leads me, showing God and His Word to people.”
So two of my short term goals for 2021, here’s the first one. I want to revise my discipleship lessons and maybe podcast about them. If you’re listening, pray for Heidi and me in this. We don’t know exactly what that will look like. Heidi and I have tried to write a curriculum before and then I gave up.
Heidi: Oh, it’s coming together, Jani. We haven’t talked about that lately, but I’ve been working on it with some great friends. And slowly but surely, it’s coming together.
Jani: Well, good. That makes me so happy. I’m hoping I can podcast about it with you as well for our listeners. I also have a new book that I want to have the book proposal finished and to the publisher by June 1. And that will take me that long because for the proposal to come together, I have to have some material written. So I know what I’m proposing.
Jani’s Lifetime Goal Example #3
Another lifetime goal is:
“To keep myself trim attractive and appealing to Ray in my clothing, my weight, my hairstyle, my personality and my intellect.”
So one of my short-term goals for 2021 is to read and notate six books. By that I mean, in my notebook where I keep track of the books I’ve read, to write a paragraph about that book. Are there any quotes that I love? What did I learn, and would I recommend it? I tend to grade them on a scale of 1 to 10.
Heidi: That’s the teacher in you. I love that.
Jani: Oh my goodness.
Jani’s Lifetime Goal Example #4
Well, I think we have time for two more. I’ll share two more quickly and then we’ll draw this to a close. One of my lifetime goals, and I wrote it back then (in ’75) is:
“To raise three or more godly, faithful, loving and self-controlled children.”
Well, here in 2000, almost 21, we now have four grown children. They’re all married with children and living really far away, who welcome still a mother’s love and care.
And so I am I setting the goal again this year to pray daily for each of our 14 grandchildren by name. And I have a list of verses that I use to stimulate my prayers for them. And then to carve out the time and money to visit each growing family for at least one week in this coming year, if the pandemic allows for it.
We can share more about this in our next episode.
Jani’s Lifetime Goal Example #5
Let me finish up by this one last lifetime goal that I’ll mention and that’s:
“To be a wise, efficient, and happy homemaker.”
Heidi: It’s easy to be a grumpy homemaker if we let that sin take root, isn’t it?
Jani: Oh, it’s so true. So for 2021, I have two short-term goals here: to get the Renewal Ministries study finished. Heidi, you know, as you come and meet with me here, it’s been a long project, but it will be done by the end of 2021.
Heidi: We’re getting close, Jani. It’s almost done!
Jani: Yes. And then we have some work in our garage. So I’m setting up a way to get that finished.
Noble Daughters Need Noble Friends
Well, I don’t know maybe that peek into our goals helped. As you can see, I’m a person who needs a deadline, I need to write it down or I keep procrastinating. Each year I share my short-term goals with my small group and they pray for me and hold me accountable. That really helps me. I’m wondering, is there someone you could do this with together? Maybe a good friend or someone in your Bible study? Maybe your husband or a family member?
Heidi’s and my prayer is this: “May God raise up noble daughters who, by His grace, plan noble things and, with his help, live out those noble plans to the praise of his glory.”
Psalm 20:4 says it this way,
“May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.”
And as he does, may he restore your soul.