What does the bible say about setting goals?

I personally have struggled setting goals because I fear that they won’t be in line with God’s plan for me, so when I get asked what I want to be doing in 5 years I don’t have a clear answer. What does the bible say about setting goals and planning ahead in life?


Hi Mphiwe!

Thank you so much for your honesty and sincerity to surrender your life to the Lord. It is inspiring.

I think you are on the right track in thinking of scriptural goals like the ones below:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 3:14

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. ~Colossians 1:28-29

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith. ~1 Timothy 1:5

That being said, I think practical goals are healthy and can be in line with following Jesus as long as you hold them with open hands and let the Lord guide them. We are all given a limited time on earth and God asks us to steward it well; personally, setting goals helps me keep eternity in mind and be intentional with the time and resources I have been given. On the other extreme, being a goal-oriented person, I have also fallen prey to the temptation of seeing goals as idols and therefore distractions to my walk with the Lord. Fortunately, God has grown me so much in this area and is constantly reminding me to keep my eyes on Him and to love people in the process of working towards a desired outcome. The outcome might not always be exactly like I was imagining but with His help, you can see the goal from an eternal perspective and realize nothing was wasted.

I would encourage you not to be afraid to set practical goals such as “I want to save x amount of money this year so that I can be a good steward of my resources in the future” or “I want to work toward this certification/degree in order to open up certain opportunities to reach a group of people in that field”. But all the while hold those goals with open hands and let the Lord guide your steps in achieving them. It’s ok not to know where you’ll be in five years. Be faithful with what you’ve been given in this moment. Think about the passions and gifts the Lord has given and how you might be able to leverage them in pointing people to Jesus.

May you continue to let God write the story of your life-adventure. May you be courageously obedient as He clarifies His dreams for you. And may you and those around you be drawn to abundant life in the process.

Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2


Very good question. Worry not about tomorrow, walk by faith, and count the cost. This is just what comes to mind, but God’s Word goes beyond what our eyes can capture. Seek the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, lean not into your own understanding, but in all things acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy steps. Fear not, step into the light, into righteousness, that the Lord may see you, be strong and courageous!


Hello @Mphiwe

You have already received great responses from @RebekahD and @jboat. I think your question is one many struggle with in wanting to know the specific will of God for our lives. If we know what God’s long-term plan for our life is, then, it would certainly make our goal setting a lot easier. It would be nice to feel conviction on the exact path that the Lord has called each of us into. This may well happen for some people, but, in my experience, most mature Christians are continually seeking for clarity and confirmation from God for where and how He wants them to be serving. It is often an ongoing process. It was interesting that the apostle Paul must have had a similar question posed to him by new believers in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, the apostle Paul addresses the people to remain in their current state or condition at their time of being called by God. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a plan for our lives that will involve a change in personal desire and life situation. It just means we always want our goals to be in line with God’s goals. Some passages that recently encouraged me to your question were from Proverbs.

Proverbs 16: 1-3:
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the LORD weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.

Verse 9: The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.

These scriptures encouraged me in a way of how to pray through personal goal setting. I would set a goal, which was a personal desire of mine, tell it to the Lord, and ask the Lord to be the one who establishes my steps. If my goal is outside of His will, then God has complete authority over my life to redirect my path, or, to help open up that path for me to walk in. All the time I will be seeking out guidance from God, but also, trusting by faith that God will prevent me from going astray. Growing in your knowledge of God will also help you in discerning what goals to set, so also, make sure not to let the goal supersede your desire and love for God and for people. It is amazing how the better you know God the clearer many of your goals become :slightly_smiling_face:.

I hope that this will be of some help.