Write Your Own Lifetime Goals [Part 2]

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Episode Synopsis

The wise woman “plans noble things” (Isaiah 32:8). Jani encourages us to live wisely as daughters of the King, developing noble plans through writing measurable and sustainable lifetime goals. Take a peek at Jani’s lifetime goals and try writing some for yourself.

Audio Transcript

Let’s Start With Worship

Jani Ortlund: Hello, everyone. Welcome back. I’m glad you’re listening in. Today, we want to continue on with our teaching in our discipleship series on writing lifetime goals. But let’s start our time this week with worship. We didn’t have a specific worship time last week and I want to make sure that we come back to that as often as we can each time we’re together.

Leaders have your group open up their Bibles to Psalm 138, and read through it together. And then spend some time answering these questions.

  1. “What do you see about God in this Psalm, what the psalmist calls ‘the ways of the Lord’?” 
  2. “What is your heartfelt response to what you see?”

Take some time to read through the Psalm and then answer these questions. Then spend some time together praising and thanking God together for what you’ve seen.

Teaching Time: Writing Lifetime Goals

Now we want to come to our teaching time, we’ve been talking about writing lifetime goals. You may think that writing lifetime goals is a great idea. But you still have questions about what to do after you’ve prayed and thought about it. So I want to teach just a little bit more and then share some of my own personal lifetime goals. Hopefully that will help answer some of your questions.

Now, this is not my own idea. Lots of people have talked about writing goals. Several years ago, my godly mother-in-law, Anne Ortlund, encouraged me to prayerfully consider setting lifetime goals and then to live my life accordingly. Oh, how I thank God for her important influence in my life. And now it’s my turn to encourage you to do the same.

If you know Jesus, he is your elder brother, as Romans 8:29 tells us. That makes you his sister and that means you are a daughter of the King of the universe, a member of the greatest nobility on Earth. We don’t want to be women who just drift along year to years, spinning our wheels. We want to live noble, beautiful lives. The Bible says,

“He who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands.”

Isaiah 32:8

What noble plans will you make? What noble things will you reach for, stretch for, long for, work for? This year is a fresh new gift from God. Oh, let’s be women who steward it well.

You may be motivated to try to write lifetime goals for yourself. But let me add this: Defining and trying to live by your own set of goals will give you a sense of confidence and accomplishment but writing goals is not what will bring happiness. Happiness is what you experience when you reach that goal when you accomplish it, when you see it fulfilled.

What Holds Us Back From Setting Goals?

What holds us back from setting goals? Well, what holds Janie Ortlund back? I’ll share some things that hold me back.


Fear is one thing. Who am I to think that I could reach that kind of goal? What if it’s not God’s will? I’m not that strong of a woman? Fear, I fear it.

Laziness & Guilt

Sometimes laziness holds me back. Sometimes an exaggerated sense of guilt in my inner man. I find myself thinking “I’ve never been able to do this before. Why do I think I can do it now?” So I have to stop and ask myself, “Do I hear Jesus in those thoughts? Or do I hear his enemy speaking those words to me?”

Lack of Godly Awareness

Sometimes, I’m lacking a godly awareness, a spiritual sensitivity. I’m too worldly-minded, too busy looking around me rather than up to Jesus. I’m overly concerned with the next meal I need to make or the next podcast I have to record or whatever it is.

I’m just plain stuck

And you know what? Sometimes I just plain feel stuck. I’m not creative enough of a thinker. I feel somewhat intimidated by my own weaknesses. And well, that circles back to my fears. Can you relate to any of those?

Jani’s Lifetime Goals

Well, I’m going to try to overcome my fears and help you because someone did this for me and now it’s my turn. I’m going to share my lifetime goals with you. Hopefully, this will help you get started. And then you can take it far out beyond what you ever hear from little old Janie Ortlund on this podcast.

I have 11 lifetime goals. All except one were written in January of 1975. Now this is no magic number. It doesn’t matter how many you write, I would just ask you not to write 52. I mean, you’ve got to have it in a reasonable amount, so that you can accomplish them.

Back in 1975, I was married and teaching second grade in Dallas, Texas while Ray finished his seminary degree there. I was in the middle of an extended and very painful miscarriage (the miscarriage of our first baby) with my doctor not knowing if I would ever be able to carry a child to full term. Here is some of what I wrote back then, and how it’s still shaping my life today. Now, I’m going to tell you, this is a little embarrassing for me. But if I can do it, then you can too. Our kind King takes week, tired and unimpressive human beings like Jani Ortlund and he uses them for his magnificent and mighty purposes in His eternal kingdom. He is such a kind king, so powerful. If he did it for me, he can do it for you. So be encouraged. Here it goes, here are my 11 lifetime goals.

1. To abandon myself in seeking to know God by spending daily time with Him.

That’s my number one goal, daily time with the Lord.

2. To make a lifelong study of the Word of God, and eventually be able to teach it to others.

3. To spend my energies, however God leads, showing God and His Word to other people.

4. To love, respect, and submit to Ray in such a way as to bring glory to God, the Body of Christ, and to Ray (1 Peter 3:6).

Now at this time, we didn’t have any children but I was reaching out into the future and I wrote:

5. To raise 3 or more godly, faithful, loving and self-controlled children (1 Timothy 2:15).

I got those qualities back then from 1 Timothy 2:15. Okay, Number six:

6. To be a wise efficient, and happy homemaker (Proverbs 31).

7. To keep myself trim, attractive, and appealing to Ray in clothes, weight, hair, personality, and intellect.

I wanted to keep catching his eyes all the way through our life together.

Oh, this is so wimpy I’m sorry, but here it is:

8. To lead five women to the Lord. Just five, I’m sorry that number is so small but that was my lifetime goal. To lead five women to the Lord.

9. To disciple 50 women.

10. To be able to play the piano for myself and others.

And now I have one more goal. Those are the 10 goals I wrote back then in January of 1975. But in January of 2011, I added one more, and that is:

11. To write five books.

I have four done, and I’m working on my fifth. So that’s a goal I wanted to put down.

Well, maybe that peek into my goals helped you a bit.

How Do I Start Writing My Goals?

How do you get started? Hopefully, you worked on the lifetime goals worksheet from our last podcast. If not, pause right now and go back to podcast 138 on our website, at herestoresmysoul.org and copy off the Lifetime Goals Worksheet. Work through it in the days ahead.

Begin with an open heart and a blank sheet of paper. Prayerfully ask God, why did you make me? Why did you call me to live at this time of history, in this specific geographic location, among these particular people? What is your good and kind will in all of this Lord? And then, as you listen to him, begin to write down the answers he gives you. Are you single? Do you sense he wants you to get married or do you long too? You can make that one of your lifetime goals? Do you want to have children or do you already have them? You can write that into your lifetime goals? Are you building a career? Do you have financial resources? What gifts, talents, or skills is he asking you to invest for him? Where does he want you to invest them? How?

Let me say this, you must want to do your goals. They should grab you. Make your goals something you really want to do and that you sense God wants you to do also. Don’t be afraid to think big. Think out beyond your present circumstances, your restricted budget, your limited energy. God is in this with you. Let love be the overriding theme of your goals. Love for God, love for others, love for his work, love for life itself. And remember Proverbs 16:9,

“The heart of a man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

And then again from the Psalms you looked at it the beginning of your time together today, Psalm 138:8:

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your steadfast love endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

Psalm 138:8

Oh 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. May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans Psalm 20:4 says. That’s my prayer for you.

Share Your Goals With Each Other

In the following podcast, we’ll talk through how to break down your lifetime goals into a year long goals and measurable and sustainable short term goals. But for now, I’d like you to talk through your lifetime goals together in your group, share them, clarify them. Pray over them together as you seek to live your lives as noble daughters of the King. What noble plans will you make? What noble things will you live for for Jesus’s sake, for His glory and your joy?

Bring the years ahead of you into focus. God created you for a kingdom-fulfilling purpose, promising His act of work in your life. Philippians 2:12-13 says,

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

Philippians 2:12-13

Now listen, dear lady, It does not say “work for”. Paul does not say “work for” your salvation with fear and trembling. No, he says, “work out”. Work it out. Part of working it out can be writing lifetime goals. He says work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is at work in you. Don’t you love that? Both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Remember, Psalm 138:8:

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.”

Psalm 138:8

Now leaders, lead your group as you talk through their lifetime goals as you edit them, refine them, pray over them together. Take a five minute break when needed. Then come back to share your prayer requests together. And leaders give the assignment which is at the end of this podcast.

Next Week’s Assignment

Your assignment for next week is this.

  • Have six quiet times with our King.
  • Continue meditating on your verse. Ask God to apply it to your daily thinking and speaking and actions.
  • Review the Old Testament books. Be able to say them from memory.
  • Try to finish writing your lifetime goals. Refine them, show them to the ladies in your group and seek their advice.
  • Exchange names to pray for each other as you’ve shared prayer requests.

And may God restore your soul as you seek to follow him.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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About The Podcast

He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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