Life Issue Goals

life issues

The first step toward finding balance between life and work issues requires the development of goals across the following seven life issue domains:

 

 

  • Life Issue Goals, include
    • spiritual goals
    • leisure goals
    • family goals
    • friendship goals
    • marriage and goals of intimacy with a significant other
    • physical health and fitness goals
    • personal growth goals

Spiritual Goals

Spiritual development is discussed as a webpage on this website. What are your spiritual goals? Note that ministry goals remain distinctly different than spiritual goals. Spiritual goals deepen your personal relationship with God. Emmons (1999, 108) notes that spiritual strivings have an “empowering function” that “can confer coherence upon the personality.” That is, spiritual strivings integrate all of one’s other strivings “in the face of constant environmental and cultural pressures that push for fragmentation.” Thus spiritual strivings, more than any other strivings, act to integrate and stabilize the minister going through transition. “The hallmark of the psychologically healthy person is integration” (Ibid., 118).

To refine your spiritual goals, we highly recommend “Transforming Personality: Spiritual Formation and the Five-Factor Model.”

Exercise:

  • What account do you hope to give for your spiritual life? Is the life that you live the one that you wanted to live?
  • What SMART spiritual goals will you carry into your next phase of life?
  • At what time of the day will you maintain daily devotions?
  • How long will you spend daily in prayer?
  • How long will you spend in daily Bible study? How long will you journal the insights that God provides?
  • With whom and how will you connect to reflect about what God is revealing to you?

For a description of SMART goals, please see Balance–What is it?

Leisure Goals

Ministers often carry so many ministerial responsibilities that they retain little time to pursue their personal leisure goals. After years of neglecting their leisure goals, many of them give up altogether and cease to pursue any leisure goals. Sometimes they even start believing that a leisure goal represents an immoral activity.

One minister lamented that he never took a day off. He needed a break, but he felt stuck in a culture that ruled out vacations and leisure. The local parishioners and other ministers ridiculed him if he considered taking a vacation. He felt doomed if he did, and doomed if he didn’t.

The importance of intentional, scheduled leisure time is discussed on the Leisure page. Leisure time and activities remain much more important for pastors than for secular individuals.

Exercise:

  • What leisure activities would you like to pursue (gardening, camping, fishing, hiking, photography, photo editing, reading, cooking, music lessons, listening to your favorite music)?
  • What SMART goals will help you pursue each of these interests?

For a description of SMART goals, please see Balance–What is it?

Family goals

Humans adapt rapidly to the luxuries they buy. The adaptation happens so rapidly that any happiness from their purchase seems relatively short-lived compared to things that produce a lasting happiness. North Americans, in particular, tend to discount things that produce lasting happiness, such as social relationships with friends and family. Instead many tend to buy toys and luxuries that fail to produce a lasting happiness.

Economist Robert Frank found that people pursue activities and purchase many things that don’t make economic sense. He concludes, “People would be happier and healthier if they took more time off and ‘spent’ it with their family and friends, yet North Americans have long headed in the opposite direction.” In what ways do ministers in your culture pursue activities in preference to family goals? What specific family goals seem meaningful to pursue?

Many ministers feel unable to pursue family-oriented goals due to physical separation from their relatives. However, modern technology enables telephone with video over the Internet and many other ways to connect with family.

How can you help guide the next generation in your family? Consider your potentially changing role toward family members, e.g., you may change from doing active work to advising. Consider any need to help aging parents, ailing spouses, or needy grandchildren. Consider if you need to visit your family more frequently to accomplish your family goals. How can you balance your need to remain independent (not enmeshed) in the lives of parents and children who are becoming less able to care for themselves, even while offering care to those same individuals?

Exercise: My family SMART goals are:

  • My spouse –
  • My children –
  • My brothers/sisters–
  • My parents –
  • Others –

For a description of SMART goals, please see What is Balance?

Friendship Goals

What are your goals for developing and strengthening friendships? Due to the constant mobility and uncertainness of their ministry, few ministers retain close relationships. They build a multitude of casual friendships among colleagues but few intimate friendships.

Researchers Leaf Van Boven and Tom Gilovich (2003) investigated two groups of subjects, one that spent money on a material possession and the other on an experience or activity. Those who spent money on an experience such as a ski trip, concert, or a great meal were happier and believed that that their money was better spent than those who described buying a material object such as clothing, jewelry, or electronics. However, they also found that those who spent money on activities almost always spent the money on activities with other individuals. Experiences give happiness because they increase social connection. Thus, money spent on activities often connects us to others and brings happiness while money spent on objects tends to separate us.

We witnessed an example of this truth when we ministered in the Philippines. A Pilipino might struggle to make a living but derive great pleasure from throwing parties and dinner celebrations for his friends and extended family. In contrast, business executives from highly industrialized countries invest their income on elaborate homes, sport cars, boats, and high-tech gadgets. Although Pilipinos often receive ridicule from their international counterparts, their close relationships bring more happiness than money spent on material objects.

Peterson. (2006, 92) reports the following correlations between life conditions and life satisfaction.

0 to Small Correlation Moderate Correlation Large Correlation
Age Number of friends Gratitude
Gender Being married Optimism
Education Religiousness Being employed
Social class Level of leisure activity Frequency of sexual intercourse
Income Physical health % of time with positive affect
Having children Conscientiousness Happiness of identical twins
Ethnicity Extraversion Self-esteem
Intelligence Neuroticism (a negative correlation)
Physical attractiveness Internal locus of control

Many of the factors in the “moderate and large” columns relate to bringing people together: number of friends, being married, religiousness, extraversion, being employed, sexual intercourse, and self-esteem. Thus, a “happy hermit” represents an oxymoron.

Exercise: Describe your SMART goals (and plan) to develop meaningful relationships in your ministry location.

Intimacy Goals

Jonathan Haidt states (2006, 140), “The reality that people often wake up to is that life is a gift they have been taking for granted, and that people matter more than money.” Most ministers value people more than money or they would never enter the ministry. However, some ministers value ministry more than people. In your pursuit of ministry, do you overlook developing and maintaining intimacy with your spouse and close friends?

Exercise:

  • If people really matter to you, what are your SMART goals to develop intimacy with your spouse and closest friends?
  • To whom will you talk about your deepest troubles and feelings?
  • Please note that intimacy may include those outside of your spousal relationship. Often it includes one or two close friends. Unmarried ministers often overlook their need for intimacy, even with close friends.

Physical Health Goals

Hopefully, some of your health and fitness goals changed while digesting the website page on Physical Health. Please review this page if you failed to change any of your health and fitness goals.

In addition to the goals that you developed for physical health, we hope that some of your depression and burnout prevention behaviors changed as a result of the webpage on preventing burnout. Please review this page if you failed to change any of your burnout prevention behaviors.

After digesting the above two webpages, what are your goals for pursuing health and fitness? Physical activity increases a positive outlook and helps maintain mental sharpness (Hill, Storandt, & Malley, 1993).

Since a significant portion of your life still remains, how will you ensure that your health and fitness enables the fullest possible lifestyle? Complete the following plan:

  • I will maintain good sleep patterns of…
  • I will eat a healthy, balanced diet such as…
  • I will avoid foods such as …
  • My plan for obtaining adequate sunlight is…
  • My plan for getting adequate omega-3 in my diet is…
  • My plan to maintain a healthy body weight is ….
  • My plan for daily exercise is…
  • Medication—I will take the following medication and supplements:

Family goals

Humans adapt rapidly to the luxuries they buy. The adaptation happens so rapidly that any happiness from their purchase seems relatively short-lived compared to things that produce a lasting happiness. North Americans, in particular, tend to discount things that produce lasting happiness, such as social relationships with friends and family. Instead many tend to buy toys and luxuries that fail to produce a lasting happiness.

Economist Robert Frank found that people pursue activities and purchase many things that don’t make economic sense. He concludes, “People would be happier and healthier if they took more time off and ‘spent’ it with their family and friends, yet North Americans have long headed in the opposite direction.” In what ways do ministers in your culture pursue activities in preference to family goals? What specific family goals seem meaningful to pursue?

Many ministers feel unable to pursue family-oriented goals due to physical separation from their relatives. However, modern technology enables telephone with video over the Internet and many other ways to connect with family.

How can you help guide the next generation in your family? Consider your potentially changing role toward family members, e.g., you may change from doing active work to advising. Consider any need to help aging parents, ailing spouses, or needy grandchildren. Consider if you need to visit your family more frequently to accomplish your family goals. How can you balance your need to remain independent (not enmeshed) in the lives of parents and children who are becoming less able to care for themselves, even while offering care to those same individuals?

Exercise: My family SMART goals are:

  • My spouse –
  • My children –
  • My brothers/sisters–
  • My parents –
  • Others –

Personal Growth

A young missionary child enjoyed working with computers and writing computer programs. He also felt called into missions. After finishing Bible College, he applied for missionary appointment and moved to minister in a foreign country. Never feeling totally content without computers nearby, he continued pursuing additional computer courses. As his computer skills and education matured, he grew more and more able to help others with their computer problems. Eventually, his denominational leadership asked him to transition and supervise the computer department at their headquarters. Many bystanders had believed that his interest in computers represented a waste of time.

An alarmingly large percentage of ministers tend to focus on ministry goals exclusively, and neglect personal growth. That is, they pursue ministry related goals exclusively but never develop their personal interests. When we fail to develop inherent areas of interest, we may unwittingly thwart areas of future ministry. God frequently works “out-of-the-box,” using these unique and novel interests in ways that we never foresee.

Exercise:

  • With what interests outside of ministry has God gifted you?
  • What are your goals for developing these interests?
  • What SMART goals will help you pursue each of these interests?

© 2013 Nathan Davis

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