In this series we are advancing the  notion of  "Bucket List Living;" that is, how do we experience a more meaningful life through goal setting.

As my blog is directed toward ministry leaders, I want to deal briefly with the potential push-back to the series: Is it selfish to dream big and set goals for self-fulfillment? At first blush, I would say, "it absolutely CAN be!" Anything we do—even then most "spiritual" things—may be driven by hidden motives that are self-driven rather than God-inspired. So a better question might be, "When does a bucket-list aspiration become an act of pure indulgence rather than an expression of glorifying God?

I recommend running your goals or bucket list items through a four-question filter. I think of these as ways to redeem your dreams. Quite frankly, these questions have exposed my own selfishness and helped me to redefine or redirect  my aspirations. Consider these questions:

Filter #1: How is the goal facilitating deeper intimacy or special bonding with people?

Relationships matter in God's world. The simplest way to see build a bucket list for God's purposes is to see them as unique opportunities to build the most important of life's relationships. How might this work with your spouse or children? How about stressed or estranged relationships? With whom is God leading you to be closer?

Filter #2: How is the goal enabling personal re-creation or particular inspiration?

God's designed humans with rechargeable batteries. He commands special seasons and rhythms of sabbath. How can a life goal renew you mind, heart, body or emotions? Maybe in the course of your calling or a some God-project you need some special inspiration. How can your everyday work be forever enriched? How might  an extended and even extravagant period of rest bring new vitality to your current life stage?

Filter #3: How is the goal providing a general blessing or unique investment?

God always blesses us to be a blessing. How can the opportunity to fulfill a goal or life dream  significantly help another ? What kind of unique investment into someone else does your goal make possible? How can your giving be multiplied by your gaining? How can generosity be expressed through your experiences?

Filter #4: How is the goal promoting increased faith or gospel advancement?

It's amazing how achieving a goal can expand your capability and enlarge your perspective. Maybe your bucket-list item represents a faith step, or moment of  risk that will change how you live the rest of your days. Or how about the reality that most pursuits will bring you into proximity to people far from God. Many  goals may easily become conduits for gospel witness.

As I pen these filters, dozens of stories from my own journey come to mind. Many times a big bucket list item accomplishes multiple God factors from these filters. Rather than share my own journey, I'll just encourage you to adjust, expand or redirect some of your own goals.

One verse that I keep before me is instructive for this post: ...and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised. - 2 Corinthians 5:15

Topics: Date: Jul 22, 2012 Tags: Bucklist / Christian ambition / life goals / life planning / Motivation / personal vision

About Will

Would you like more meaningful progress in your church? 

I want you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, I’ve worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing mega-churches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. I have the privilege of being the founder of Auxano, a church consulting group and Younique, a personal vision and life planning training company for the church. Most people know me from two of several books that I have authored: Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision and Create Movement and God Dreams: 12 Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church's Future.

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Will Mancini