From the End Goal, Backward


I recently read a career article that shifted not only the way I thought about my career trajectory, but the way I thought about my life. In an attempt to learn more about my new career field, I wanted to know the best tips and tricks to navigate through this very new, very unfamiliar place.

"Identify your end goal, then work backward." It seemed pretty straightforward; figure out where you want to end up, then identify what it will take to get there. It was simple, yet effective. Duh! I whispered to myself. There was something so profound about that simple suggestion, yet I was alarmed that I hadn't thought of it myself.

Many times, at least in my own experience, I apply to jobs that I think would best suit me, without forging a clear path to my end goal. Part of that was because I was still exploring where exactly I wanted to end up. The other part was filled with uncertainty of if I'd actually ever end up there. But this advice provided clear strategy: identify what you want, identify how to get it, then do that stuff. It couldn't get much easier than that - at least not at this level of planning. Recognizing that our plan may not always be the plan, this was a good starting place to be well on my way toward professional success and fulfillment.

I hadn't expected this same premise to flood into a strategy for pure salvation, too.

In a conversation with my union-rep-turned-sister-in-Christ about career progression, I referenced the article and was immediately slapped with an unignorable revelation.

What if we approached our salvation in the same way? From the end goal, backward.

While many of us pursue salvation for different reasons, our desired end goal should be the same: eternal life in heaven. Every bit of our self-work, our prayers, our refinement, our ministry, is to lead others and ourselves to a thriving relationship with Christ, with hopes of one day experiencing eternal freedom with our Creator. What if we strategize for this pursuit the same way we do our careers - by identifying what we want, and discerning how to get there?

What if, every day you woke up, you thought of your end goal, eternal life in heaven, and only did things that would get you there? What if you allowed that thought to dictate how you handle life? People? Temptation? Obedience? What if you used that very powerful goal, to establish your life's plan?

Much of this spiritual journey is about changing the way we think. So many of us feel burdened by Christ-like living, that it appears to be more like a prison, than a pursuit of freedom. When we don’t see immediate results from dedicating ourselves to Him, we are quickly (and easily) disappointed. But if our end goal is eternal life, we must recognize that it will take a while to get there and none of us should rush to that fate. Instead, we should fix our minds to live for this goal. We should carry ourselves in a manner that supports this pursuit. We should navigate ourselves with this at the forefront of our minds, fixating our thoughts, words, and deeds only to things that would bring about this end. We should cast to damnation everything that goes against this goal, rebuking our flesh and operating, instead, with a pure heart and the Holy Spirit.

Just like you wouldn't sell yourself short for your dream job, you shouldn't sell yourself short for eternal life, either. Pursue the Kingdom or die trying. 

So as you continue to pursue salvation, identify purpose, and work toward an unshakable relationship with Christ, I urge you to consider whether the people, things, and habits you're entertaining are advancing you toward your goal. I advise you to reflect on whether or not your decisions and behaviors will grant you access to God's kingdom. I encourage you to reflect honestly and openly about the destiny your current life is leading you toward. And I implore you to identify if any of it is worth it; if the sex, or the lies, or the gluttony, or the greed, or the theft, or the hatred, or the anger, or the foul tongue, or the loose lips, or the bitterness, or the pride, or the lust, or the disobedience, or the envy is worth forfeiting your end goal.

Much like my career strategy changed after reading the initial article, my strategy for intentionally sustaining my salvation and managing my purpose shifted, too. I thought less about how my obedience would make me look to others, or make me feel internally, and focused more on how thrilled I will be when I enter those pearly gates. I stopped fighting God's plan, and started accepting it delightfully. I aligned myself with people and activities that would glorify and please God. None of this is without fail, though. Changing habits and attitudes take work. But beginning that work is imperative.

So as I accept this revelation as an opportunity for renewal, and reconnecting my heart to God in a new and exciting way, I dedicate myself to not only living a Christ-filled life, but I dedicate my life to serving God so that He utters the ever-most powerful words. Whether it's at the gate, or in this very present place, I base the foundation of my life upon hearing God say, "well done, my good and faithful servant." I aspire for my life to provide much joy and purpose to His kingdom. And, I will live in a way that warrants my one-way ticket to eternal life in heaven.

I'll be working my way from that end goal, backward.

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