Developing a personal vision for 2016

by Randy Harp

In his book The Power of Vision, George Barna defines vision as “the clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to his chosen servants based upon an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances.” It is the time of year when people start attempting to discover that clear mental image of their preferable future for the coming year. For many people, this comes in the form of New Year’s resolutions. While there is nothing wrong with New Year’s resolutions, success takes a lot more than merely coming up with a list of ideas. It is estimated 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions break them, oftentimes within the first few weeks, and then they give up on them completely.

This year, rather than making New Year’s resolutions, consider taking time to establish goals for the coming year. Each goal should point you in the direction of the vision, the clear mental image of a preferable future, you feel God has given you. Ultimately, the principle to understand is this — to be successful in life you must be proactive rather than reactive. You have to have a plan and a process rather than simply reacting to every circumstance that happens to come along.

Proverbs 14:8 states, “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way.” In other words, the wise can look into the future to see where they want to be, or more importantly, where God wants them to be, and then work toward getting there. You will never get there without setting goals at the beginning.


Your goals should be pleasing to the Lord. This is foundational. Our goals should be focused on God and His kingdom, not on ourselves. Many people fail to reach their goals because they are motivated by selfishness. You can ask yourself, “Does this goal work toward building my kingdom or God’s?” (2 Corinthians 5:9)

Pray about your goals. Before you set any goals, ask God what in your life needs to change. When He answers, make those your goals. (Proverbs 16:3)

Set realistic goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by selecting impractical and unattainable goals. You’ll become discouraged and give up. Work hard at planning realistic goals. (Proverbs 21:5)

Define specific steps and set a completion date for each goal. Jesus had a plan for everything He did. There was never a time when He “winged” it. Achieving goals is a process and every process has a completion. (Proverbs 20:4)

Monitor your goals. Your goals should be measurable. Monitoring helps you evaluate consistency. Goals aren’t met in large chunks. They are met in incremental stages. An important tool here is having someone hold you accountable. Get some help! (Proverbs 19:20-21)

Don’t quit. You are going to have rough days. You may take a step backward. But you must never quit. If God revealed this goal for you, He will help you until the end. (James 5:11)


It is one thing to understand biblical principles for goal-setting. It is another to be proactive in establishing goals. Write down at least one goal for each of the following categories:

SPIRITUAL GOALS (Proverbs 3:5-6)
FAMILY GOALS (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) 
PHYSICAL GOALS (1 Timothy 4:8) 
SOCIAL GOALS (Romans 12:13) 
WORK GOALS (Proverbs 14:23)  
FINANCIAL GOALS (Proverbs 3:9-10)
WISDOM GOALS (Proverbs 24:3) 
RECREATIONAL GOALS (Ecclesiastes 8:15)