Maybe you are like me and the New Year brings up feelings of discouragement. Discouragement with yourself because you didn’t accomplish the things you hoped to.
However, turning your attention to Jesus and setting spiritual goals to grow in your relationship with him will help you not to feel this way any longer. The Bible provides examples of spiritual goals that you should be pursuing to get closer to God.
When you work toward the goals he has for you, and not your own, your life will become so meaningful—and you’ll in turn feel satisfied and full of purpose. You don’t have to feel discouraged… because following God equals success.
What Are Spiritual Goals?
Spiritual goals are things that you plan to do to grow in your relationship with Christ. There is no better goal. It should always be all about him.
God’s word, the Bible, should be your guide to showing you the spiritual goals to set. You need to live out his word to grow closer to him and to live your best life. This is loving yourself.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22, NIV)
The Bible describes how to live. You shouldn’t be legalistic about following it, but you should want to do what it says out of your love for God. He loves you so much and it should propel you to love him back with a never stopping drive. The more you know him and his love, the more you will want to pursue spiritual goals over worldly ones.
Resolutions vs Goals
Resolutions are ideas that we have that we want to live out. Goals are actually things we come up with a practical plan for and do them.
It’s good to have resolutions, but it’s important to prayerfully come to God with them to see if they are his will. You shouldn’t want to pursue anything out of his will.
“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” (Psalm 37:5, NLT)
When you know it’s his will, you should seek him in prayer to know how to achieve it. If it’s right, he will give you peace and open the doors to make it happen. Ask him to guide you and show you the steps to take. He will show you how to do it.
Setting Spiritual Goals
When you decide that you want to set spiritual goals—whether it’s because it is a new year or not—it’s important to seek God in prayer. He will show you what areas you need to work on to grow in your relationship with him.
You should make smart goals for spiritual growth; some will be more long term goals, and some short term spiritual goals. Long term spiritual goals examples would include growing your character. Change takes time and you can do it with God… but that’s a long term goal. You don’t need to feel discouraged when it’s hard because he is working in you.
A short term spiritual goal example that you can change right now would be reading your Bible. You can work to do that every day. Pray and surrender it to God and he will show you the spiritual goal he wants you to work on right now. Then make a tangible plan to do it and seek accountability from safe friends if you need to as well.
Examples of Spiritual Goals
You should set Christian goals because they help you intentionally grow closer to Jesus. Setting goals for the new year is a good time to do it, but you can set spiritual goals at any time.
If you mess up (which we all will do) give yourself grace, as God gives you, and know his mercies are new every day. Keep pressing into him and keep your heart right to be able to achieve the goals he has for you.
If you are looking for examples of spiritual goals in the Bible that you should aim to achieve, you will find 10 here. Striving to reach the goals he has for you leads to great fulfillment.
1. Love God
Loving God is the ultimate spiritual goal. It is listed in the greatest commandment.
“Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”’” (Matthew 22:37, NIV)
Making it a point to know him more—by seeking him, praying to him and reading your Bible—will allow you to love him more. Pray to love him with all your heart… and examine your heart daily to see if you are putting anything above him. You don’t want to put anything above God.
2. Love Yourself
God loves his creation. You are his creation and he wants you to love yourself. Not to a point where you are boastful or full of yourself, but where you enjoy who you are.
This is loving yourself: when you know who you are in him, and give him praise for it. It’s a continuation of the greatest commandment.
“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:39, NIV)
You can meet this spiritual goal when you read the Bible and know who you are. Cast out lies about what others say about you; don’t talk down to yourself or self-sabotage yourself. You should make it a daily goal to treat yourself right by respecting the limits God has given you and taking care of yourself. Make it a point to see how you can treat yourself better and make a plan to do it.
3. Love People
Another example of a spiritual goal in the Bible is to love people. It’s in the greatest commandment as well, and in many other verses in the Bible.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34, NIV)
This isn’t always easy… especially if you are not loving yourself (or haven’t been shown how to love yourself) but you should aim to do it with the power of the Holy Spirit.
You can do this practically by forgiving others, putting others’ needs and wants before your own, listening, being present in conversations, etc. The more you love yourself by knowing who you are in Christ, you can be secure in yourself and love others. You won’t have thoughts of comparison or jealousy but can just lay down your life as God calls you to, in order to love others.
4. Read the Bible
God wants you to read the Bible for so many reasons.
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’” (Matthew 4:4, NIV)
It’s a spiritual goal that you should set for yourself because you will always feel encouraged, be wiser, stronger and live your best life by following his ways.
You need God’s words. You need to know his love… and it’s all in his word to you.
Start small if you need to, so it feels manageable, like reading for 5-10 minutes a day. Then increase your reading time. Find a reading plan online that works for you and a good time (or times) during the day.
Just read the Bible. Read the entire Bible when you are ready to. Setting this spiritual goal will never lead to discouragement, but great prosperity in your life.
5. Attend Church Regularly
Jesus loves the church. He created it for multiple reasons: to spread the gospel, and for you to have community with whom you grow in your relationship with him and feel edified.
He wants you to serve there and be a part of his plan. Therefore, you need to make it a spiritual goal of yours to be a part of a local church. Attend it regularly. Your participation is very important and you are needed.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV)
You are unique and the gifts he has given you should be used to further his kingdom in the church. Go to church and commit to serving God there, to bring others to him so they can experience his great love also.
Prayer needs to be a spiritual goal of yours. It’s mentioned so often in the Bible and there are even instructions on how to do it. (Matthew 6:5-14)
You should make it a goal to be praying all the time about everything. Be in constant prayer with God as he just wants to be with you and spend time with you, always. Nothing is too big or small to share with him. He is a loving Father who just wants to hear from you about it all.
You shouldn’t just pray when you are desperately in need and at your breaking point. He wants you to always be praying.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2, NIV)
Keeping a prayer journal is a great tool that is helpful to get you praying. Write down prayers that you have and ones that are answered. This increases your faith and really allows you to see the power of God. It also keeps you constantly praying.
Go to Jesus first with your problems and grievances in prayer. Remind yourself with the verse listed above or find another one about prayer that can help you remember the power of being in constant communication with Jesus.
Fasting is another practice that you can read frequently about in the Bible. Many Bible figures engaged in this powerful discipline to draw closer to God and hear from him.
“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” (Daniel 10:3, NIV)
Fasting should be a spiritual goal of yours also. You don’t just have to fast from food, but you can fast from social media or television… or anything that you feel God is calling you to give up in order to draw closer to him.
You should fast to get closer to God and be more in his presence. To spend more time in prayer and less on the things of this world.
Plan to fast when you want to intentionally hear from God about something or when you feel like he is calling you to. You can set a schedule to fast once a month, or however often you feel from the Lord. You can fast with friends or by yourself. Consider making it a spiritual goal if you don’t already.
8. Observe the Sabbath
God makes it clear that everyone needs to rest. He modeled this when he rested on the 7th day of creating the world. You, unlike God, have limits. You can’t keep going and going. It’s a gift to rest and when you make it a spiritual goal to keep the sabbath, a day of rest, you love yourself well.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Exodus 20:8, NIV)
Not resting burns you out, making you irritable, miserable and unable to live this life well for Jesus. When you respect your limits it shows God your reverence towards him. Sabbath is the refreshment you need; it may feel like an impossible spiritual goal to you, but you can do it.
Plan ahead by doing all your chores and work beforehand and just focus on intentionally spending time with God on that day. Praise him with worship and find rest in him by pouring your heart out to him to be refreshed.
This all brings rest to your mind and heart; you won’t have to carry it all any longer, and you’ll find bodily rest by not running around with errands, etc. Seek God for how you can observe the sabbath to find rest.
9. Praising God
Another example of a spiritual goal is praising God. You can often forget to praise God or only think you should practice it on Sunday at church… but you should make it a daily spiritual goal.
“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” (Psalm 113:3, NIV)
Praise him in good times as well as bad times, no matter what. He is worthy of praise all the time.
Set aside time during the day, or integrate it into your time with Jesus. It will change your day (and heart) when things feel hard. Make a plan to do it. You can put on worship music or just call out his attributes or the names of God to praise him.
10. Time Alone With God
Jesus often retreated to spend alone time with God in prayer.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35, NIV)
You need to make this a spiritual goal of yours, too, even if you can only do it for 5 minutes. Alone time with Jesus refreshes you, gives you new strength, and provides the ability to keep going.
It recenters you to focus on him and know you are loved. It calms you down when you are stressed, lost or angry. It allows you to hear from him when you need encouragement.
Make a plan to spend alone time with Jesus to pray, read the Bible, or just sit in silence and stillness with him. Maybe a few minutes before bed—or in the early morning before work starts or your kids are awake—can be a good time for you.
There are many examples of spiritual goals in the Bible that you should aim to follow. 10 of these Christian spiritual goals include loving God, loving yourself, loving people, reading the Bible, going to church, praying, fasting, observing the sabbath, praising God and spending time alone with him. Spiritual goals are important to set, as they bring you closer to Jesus and allow you to grow in your relationship with him.