Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Right Goal

Gal 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

There are times in the writing of a large project, especially when on a deadline, that you just don't want to work. You are tired. Your emotions are flat. And that, I think is a good thing, because it enables you to examine your goals. I was thinking about goals the other day, because I'd read something that said they should be realistic and attainable and something under your control.

By that definition a good goal for a writer can't be "to be published" because you really don't have any control over that. It could be to write a book or even a publishable book, though the latter is getting fuzzy because who decides what is publishable except the editor who buys it? And again, the writer has no control over that.

Likewise, the goal "that people will like my book" is no good, because the writer has no control over that, either. It can't even be that God will like my work, because He's the one, I believe, who's supposed to be doing it. Of course He will like it. He made me to be the kind of person I am who likes the kind of stuff I do, and He gave me the ability and desire to write and "filled my well" with much of what is in it, and He's set up so many other parameters that govern what the work will be that there would be no work at all apart from Him. So His liking it just seems beside the point. At least when it comes to a specific, attainable, verifiable goal.

By those criterion, a good goal can't even be that I will like the work, because my feelings are totally unreliable. Especially if I'm tired or have been working many days or months, in which case it's likely I'll not feel too good about it. So if my goal is to feel good about the quality of what I've done when the day comes to an end, most days I will not meet that goal. And the goal, to be good has to be attainable and realistic.

So what is a good goal then? How about "to live one day at a time, to do the task that has been assigned with the right mental attitude and the right motivation, and enjoy the process?"

The right mental attitude: Not freaking out because I'm behind schedule or because of the frustration of not knowing where I'm going, or of holding two contradictory thoughts in my mind at once; not worried about what people are going to think, but confident that the Lord is leading me to make the work what He wants it to be (and that mostly in spite of me); at rest and fully persuaded that He is able to accomplish that which He has purposed...

The right motivation: recalling every day that it is an honor and a privilege to worship God, to learn His word and to be able to write books that illustrate and celebrate who He is. Books that will touch people throughout the country and even the world. It is a tremendous privilege that should never be taken for granted, and certainly not sullied by constant fretting over whether it's going to be done properly, or worse, liked by people or not.

Yeah, I think that might work...

Have a great weekend