Pursuing the Pylon: Why Good Goals Start at 1st & 10

Have you ever wondered why it’s easier to set goals than it is to reach them? Why it’s less difficult making resolutions than being resolute about them?

If so, then congratulations; not only is self-improvement important to you but you understand the value in pursuing ‘next level’ goals as opposed to run-of-the-mill resolutions.

Granted, this doesn’t automatically simplify the walk-it-out process.

Yet, as discussed during last weekend’s LEGACYouth leadership retreat, when we talk about refining our aim, the hardest part isn’t so much listing our goals; it’s living them out in full together1. So how we grow as target-trainers and develop as goal-keepers in the context of community is worth discussion.

For starters, we must understand the difference and progression among plans, steps, and goals. In terms of pathway, before a goal can be achieved, it must be realized through a plan and executed by its steps (plans -> steps -> goals). A quick drill-down on Proverbs 16:9 confirms this: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Framing this in the context of goal-setting, we find…

  1. A goal without a plan is unachievable…
  2. A plan without steps is unbelievable …
  3. A step without the Lord’s establishment is inconceivable…
  4. Therefore, a goal cannot be fully accomplished if God is not allowed to do that which only he can do.

Fair enough. Still for many, while identifying goals comes naturally, it’s important we allow God establish his steps individually and corporately in every walk and pursuit of life.

‘Cause truth is: the biggest reason goals fail isn’t a matter of not trying, but of not relying.

As crazy as it sounds, God may not always give us clear game-plans; in fact, there will be times his strats2 seem incomplete as his grace keeps us in the dark; however, if we’re faithful to seek him at all costs, he will surely give us clear, complete, and concise understanding as to the next steps we’re to take (Job 32:8, 2 Timothy 2:7, Psalm 119:100, Psalm 119:130, James 1:5). All we have to do is journey in trust (i.e. depend on what he’s called us to and abide in it with joyful obedience) knowing to the extent we lean on God to that extent we’re supported in rest (see application of Hebrew word “shaan” in Genesis 18:4, 2 Chronicles 13:18, 2 Chronicles 14:11).

Will the road be tough at times? Absolutely. Will the light at the end of the tunnel seem dim on occasion? Of course. Again, I’m not saying leaning on God is always going to make sense; however, I am saying if we truly desire to hit the bullseye of our goals and for God to establish the bridge between them and our plans, relying on God is the best approach.

Think of this way: If living our goals is a game of football, then the process is like a quarterback advancing the ball down the field. For the offense, the ultimate goal is to score a touchdown; however, in the heat of the moment, the team isn’t as focused on six points as it is keeping the drive alive…in going for the first down. Can any one play produce a touchdown? Absolutely. But to the quarterback, the objective isn’t so much to score on one throw as it to anticipate the defense and execute on a play-to-play basis in hope to renew a fresh set of downs. So if we apply the goal pathway as mentioned above, we can see how…

  1. The goal is to score a touchdown.
  2. The plan is the offense scheme employed by the coach and driven by the quarterback.
  3. The steps are the single plays of the drive seeking to sustain momentum through the first down.

Thus, I submit if we want to mature our goal-setting into goal-keeping, better to go for the first down until the time comes to go for the touchdown. See the difference?

My encouragement to you, friends, is to remember since plans represent the steps needed to achieve the goals God has placed in your heart, they’re ultimately appointed to Christ. So whatever you commit to, stay ready to surrender, ask the Lord to fill you with his vision…to align his priorities within you, and then follow through by staying tethered to trust.

Cam out.


  • Or living them out in full together in a teaming context
  • Short abbreviation for “strategies”

Photo creds: GettyImages

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