On New Year’s Eve, I wrote a post called “3 Important Things to Do as You Start the New Year.” I hope you took time to think about the questions I listed there. Have you started thinking about your goals for coming year? I hope your goals were God-sized goals.
It is sometimes hard to know how ambitious to be in goal setting. Some of us struggle with risk aversion. We want to set nice safe discipleship goals we can achieve.
Some years ago, I was visiting Nepal, a country I had worked in years before. It was early morning and I was sitting outside in the crisp air, overlooking a beautiful valley of terraced rice fields. I remembered back to the early days in our ministry when we had traveled each week by scooter, our baby strapped on in a front pack, driving up and down the windy mountain roads to the unreached valley area God had called us to. I love Nepali villages!
For the first and only time in my life so far, God spoke to me by filling my mind with a story. It was about a Nepali farmer.
A Nepali farmer had 3 sons. He worked hard, saved his money, and rather than wasting it on immediate needs invested it in small business he heard about. Those businesses grew and some prospered greatly.
One day, one of those businesses he had invested in sold and paid off all the share holders. He received a huge payout of about 50 lach rupees (about $75,000). This was a lot of money in the village! His years of careful investing had paid off.
“I want to share this money with my sons”, he thought. “But I don’t want to spoil them. What should I do?”
The Nepali farmer decided to call his sons and tell them that he had received some extra money and that if they had any needs they should come to him and let him know. He would see what he could do about those needs.
The oldest son was grown, married, and had a child in elementary school. He went home and thought about what his father had said. “My father is a good man” he thought. “But he is just a simple farmer.” He wondered to himself about how much money a simple and not very well educated man could have.
He decided to ask his father for money to pay for his son’s school books for the year- for about 1,500 rupees (about $15 USD).
He went to his father and presented his request. Lovingly, his father replied “I’m happy to do that son.” He went to his bedroom, came out and gave him the money. The elder son left happy!
The second son was working in the capital city, Kathmandu. He had a job working for a travel agency there. Every day he had to go by bus or shared auto into the city. “If I had a bicycle, I could save money and get there faster too” he thought. He wondered about how much money his father had received. “My father is a good man and a great farmer. But, he is just a simple guy. I don’t think he has that much money to give and my other brothers will also be asking him.” He decided to ask his father for money to buy a bicycle that cost about 5000 rupees ($50 USD).
When he asked his father, he received the same loving response. He got his 5000 rupees and left happy!
The third son was still living at home in the village. He worked closely with his father on the farm each day. He too thought about what his father had said, but his thoughts were a bit different.
“My father is the smartest man I know! He isn’t that educated, but he is incredibly wise. I’ve watched his life and how he uses money. I bet he has a huge amount of money saved” he thought. “I am going to ask him for money to purchase a Tata truck. I can start my own business to take vegetables from our village to the city for sale.”
That was what he did. He went to his father and asked for a Tata truck. The cost would be about 22 lach (about $35,000 USD).
When his father heard his request, his response was the same as with the other sons. “Sure son, I’d be happy to do that for you.” His father went to the bank, got the money and they purchased the truck.
When the other two brothers saw that their son was starting a business and driving a new truck, they were incredulous! “How did you get the money for a truck?” they shouted.
“I got it from Dad” he replied.
Angry, they stormed into their father’s room that night. “Why didn’t you give us a truck too???” they exclaimed. “We have much greater needs than our younger brother does!”
The father calmly replied to his sons, “My beloved sons, didn’t I tell you to ask me for what you needed? And didn’t I give you what you asked for?” He then told them to stop complaining and be happy as they had been before. “I gave you, exactly what you asked. You have no reason to be upset, with me or with your brother.”
That morning, sitting outside and looking over the fields, I thought about the story God had put in my heart. The limiting factor (Michael Hyatt calls them limiting beliefs) in the elder sons’ lives was their view of their father. They couldn’t see him for who he really was. This limited view of their father affected their ability to ask him for more.
Many times I can’t see God for who he really is. I don’t really understand or acknowledge His incredible power and greatness or His goodness. I might say I believe He is great, but my actions, my goals, show me that isn’t my real belief. My God can be pretty small.
The only thing that limits what God can do through me is 1) how much I am willing to believe in His greatness and 2) how much I am willing to ask him for.
I knew this was His Word to me that day.
As we think about our New Year’s goals, as we look at what we want to see God do through our lives to impact the lost in the coming year…let’s remember we serve a BIG God who is able to do the IMPOSSIBLE through us.
Don’t set too small of goals. Don’t set goals that you can accomplish on your own.
As you look at the New Year, remember who you are. Remember who God is.
Listen to His voice. What are the dreams on His heart he is inviting you into this year? What does He want to do through you to launch movements of disciples or transform your local community?
Believe Him for more! Ask Him for more!
He is longing to give you the Kingdom.