Using Luke 2:52 as a model for setting goals each year, let's break it down into more practical thinking.
Luke 2:52 "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."
That first goal would have to do with growing in wisdom. Wisdom is a word we hear used with some frequency, but seldom defined. It is sort of one of the "ethereal" concepts that we could probably recognize a person that is wise, but we might not be able to define exactly what wisdom is.
For a long time I have been impacted by this definition of wisdom: "Wisdom is the ability to see things from God's perspective." For me, that is a "WOW!" We are so prone to see things from only our narrow, limited perspective. It doesn't seem to matter whether we are thinking about our circumstances or our relationships and how someone responds to us. But that is one of the tremendous advantages of being a Christian--we are no longer limited to our small, restricted, limited perspective!
And, we have a God, who in His great foresight, has provided us with a lot of information about who He is and how he thinks. In fact, in the New Testament, Paul stated that we should be able to have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."
This does not mean that we are able to know everything God knows or even be like him. But, since He lives within us, I believe that He desires to develop His own character and nature (and ways of thinking) into us. Romans 12:2 says "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
God does desire to transform the way we think, and He desires for us to learn to think like He does--to understand and know what He would think. In the Scriptures we have a tremendous account of how God responds, what He thinks and what He desires.
In many circumstances I will not be able to know exactly what God is "up to" or "doing." Job certainly did not know what God was doing! But there is much I can already know about what He is thinking about the situation. For example,
Ø I know His love is eternal (will never end), so whatever my circumstances, I know He loves me and has a purpose in what He allows to come into my life. (Romans 8:28).
Ø I know He knows and cares about what is happening--even more than I can ever comprehend.
Ø I know He promises to carry me through and provide whatever I need to get through that circumstance.
Ø I know He made me for fellowship with Himself, and that can never be taken away once that relationship with Him has been established.
Applying these types of thoughts toward whatever circumstances I find myself becomes one of the ways to "see my circumstances from God's perspective" or of developing wisdom. Another word we might use to describe this is "faith."
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that "without faith we cannot please God." Then the writer goes on to say "anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." How often do we find ourselves in some difficult situation and begin to doubt if God really is there, or if He cares? We catch ourselves thinking thoughts like "God, where are you?" "Why are you letting this happen to me if you love me?" (WHY always seem to be the big word we get hung up on, just as Job did.) These are times when our faith (belief) in His existence is truly tested, because it doesn't make sense to us that if He is there, and if He loves us, he would not allow us to experience this pain or difficulty. Maybe we realize that our idea of "rewards those who seek Him" may not be the same as His idea of rewards!
At this point our faith is truly tested, and we may begin to wrestle with one of the greatest questions of men and women, "Where is God when I hurt?" (or someone I love hurts).
Whether in great or small difficulties, I believe God's heart desire for us to have wisdom (seeing life circumstances from His perspective) is directly connected to His desire that we will truly believe He loves us. Brennan Manning spoke to this in a video clip I watched the other day--calling this question "Did you believe that I love you?" the most important question God will ask us when we meet Him face to face.
All of this is to say that my #1 goal for this year is to believe daily--moment by moment--that God is enough--knowing that His love is enough, no matter what else is going on around me, no matter what I experience, no matter how much pain or frustration or irritation I encounter, it is ok because His presence and His love are enough.
In practical ways, that means when someone treats me disrespectfully, I can respond assertively--without overreacting--because I know what really matters is "He loves me" (I don't have to have the respect of others to have value). It means when someone doesn't provide the emotional support or kindness or love that I think they should, it is ok because "God is enough." (I don't have to be loved by family or friends, and I can release them from my expectations). It means when I fail, I can get up and go again because "God is enough." (I don't have to have success in my life to have value). These are all goals that would be helpful to clients that come into our offices also.
What's your goal related to growing in wisdom this year? Give it some thought and let me hear from you!