The Same Goal


Many team-building activities are built around a single premise – if a group of individuals can be united towards the same goal than there is little that can stop them from achieving it. This is why football teams rally together before the start of a game and recite the same chant in unison. It is why corporate America spends so much time drafting catchphrases that encapsulate their strategic plans. It is why churches have mission statements and non-profits have slogans. Having a unified theme, a common aim, motivates people towards its fulfillment.

In Philippians Paul writes about the goal that he has for his life, namely knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). This was the goal that drove his work, that motivated his efforts, that allowed him to be content in every circumstance (Phil 4:11-12). If Christ was known more fully, than Paul’s mission was achieved. His desire was for Christ – for Him to be glorified and exalted, everything else paled in comparison.

Paul was fully aware that this goal may lead to unpleasant circumstances in his life. He had been imprisoned, beaten and persecuted all for the sake of his Savior (See 2 Cor. 11:23-29). He was threatened with hardship and even death for the sake of His King. Yet because of what drove Paul, because of his overwhelming desire to make Christ more fully known, he was satisfied with whatever circumstance God had for him. Life or death – it did not matter (Phil. 1:21). If God was to be glorified, Paul was pleased.

As John Piper said in a sermon on January 27, 1980:

“Life and death: they seem like such opposites; they seem so contradictory; they seem like enemies. But in Paul’s mind there is this unity somehow, so that whether by life or by death Christ would be magnified. The greatest longing he had would be fulfilled in both. So in a sense it was a matter of indifference to him which one the Lord would give him.”

This should make us stop and think: what is our greatest longing? What is the goal that motivates us – that keeps pushing us forward? Are we, like Paul, motivated by knowing Christ and making Him known? If so, than the situations that we face are inconsequential to the achievement of this objective. If this goal can be realized in our death than, like Paul, we know that “to die is gain” for Christ will be glorified and we will be with our Maker. If we must face hardship and persecution, are we glad to do so for the sake of Christ and His renown? Do we desire our comfort over magnifying Him? Do we choose convenience rather than exaltation of our Savior?

May this not be so. May our motivation in life be to bring glory to our King. May we live with this goal at the forefront of our mind and may we be willing to accept whatever comes our way – life, death, hardship or blessing – if as a result, He is magnified and honored. May His glory be the goal that unites our desires. May His renown be more important than our rights, being willing to sacrifice what “we deserve” for His majesty and grace to be put on display. May we not be mostly concerned about the outcome of our circumstances in this life, but the end result in eternity.


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Whatever He Wills

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to three groups of women about the importance of the Gospel. It was a privilege and a great opportunity, and as such I was eager for it to go well. I had prepared diligently for the message, and was looking forward to it. However, regardless of how much I prepare for these types of events, the reality of what I am doing always seems to strike me the morning that I will first present. The magnitude of the responsibility for teaching God’s Word is hard to escape.

So as I got ready to leave the house that morning I was praying for God to bless my time of teaching. I prayed that I would speak clearly and that I would be an effective communicator of His Truth. I wanted things to go well but even as I prayed I realized that my heart’s cry was off the mark. I wanted it to go well because I wanted it to be an effective time of learning and because I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything to distract from what God was going to do in the lives of the women who were listening. However, I also wanted it to go well because I didn’t want to look like a fool. I wanted to present myself well because I wanted the people who were listening to think well of me.

As this recognition hit me, I realized that in order for God to be most glorified something may need to happen that would be outside of my carefully crafted plans. Perhaps I would fall on my face as I walked to the stage. Perhaps I would stutter and forget my place. Perhaps I would not do as good of job as the time and effort that I had dedicated would indicate. Any of these things could have happened – and God may have required them in order to accomplish something that was distinct from my plans but signifiant in His. I wasn’t sure how God could use any of these things but I knew that He could. And if He desired to do so, than I needed to be willing for that to happen.

This didn’t stop me from praying that the teaching time went well, but it certainly changed my definition of what that meant. Instead of being about whether I did a good job, it was about whether God accomplished what He wanted through it. It meant that whatever He wanted to have happen, I wanted that too. Even if it meant that there was a personal cost. Even if it meant sacrificing my carefully crafted expectations. I know that what He desired was far greater than what I did and first and foremost I wanted to serve Him.

It can be difficult to come to this place of surrender. Even though part of my teaching was on Galatians 1:10 where Paul discusses the importance of serving Christ and not man, it wasn’t until the morning I was to go on stage that I fully appreciated that in order for God’s purposes to be fulfilled, I may not come across looking as polished as I desired to be. We often state our willingness to make grand sacrifices for the sake of Christ, but fail to realize that more often we are called to the daily sacrifices of our reputation, our comfort and our convenience in order to serve His purposes rather than our own. May we be increasingly be willing to make these sacrifices, knowing that what He has designed is greater than what we could. May we, like John the Baptist say “He must increase, but I must decrease”(Jn. 3:30) as we desire whatever He wills.

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