My Three Most Important Life Goals

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

(A couple of weeks ago, over on Facebook, my daughter-in-law asked respondents to list their top three life goals and report on whether these had been accomplished. I like Facebook, but it has the problem of dropping things off the bottom of the page. I put some serious thought into my answer, so am reposting it here with some minor reworking.)

One goal I had from youth was to see if I couldn't leave the world a better place than when I found it. That is not the kind of goal one finishes and checks off, but I think I can look back on some places where I have exerted some energy in that direction, and on some accomplishments that give me satisfaction. My years in Colombia were very well spent, and whenever I see a public bus in Visalia, I have the satisfaction of knowing my efforts—thirty years ago—were important in getting that system started. I also recognized from a young age that one aspect of this goal would mean finding the right person to marry, and making her life richer for having married me. Another would be raising children who would also leave the world better than they found it. Many of my friends either put off having kids, or had no kids at all, partly on the idea that the world was too crowded and each additional child would be a negative. I felt the total number of people wasn't the problem, but rather the ratio of givers to takers. I think, by God's grace, that Vicki and I have managed to improve on that ratio.

Another goal was to get a well-rounded education. My early heroes were Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. They were interested in almost everything, and not just knowledgeable, but contributors in almost every area where they had interests. Again, no one with this kind of goal can ever say they have arrived. There is always something else to learn. But I deeply enjoy the wide variety of interests and fields where I have some understanding. For me, a broad education requires travel and familiarity with foreign languages. I have traveled extensively, and not just the superficial organized tours or cruises, but going places and involving myself in the lives of the local people. That has added enormous richness to my life. I have a rudimentary reading knowledge of all the major Romance languages, and general use of Spanish, but I still want to learn some Chinese, some Japanese, some Turkish, and better Portuguese. If I continue to lose my hearing, I may have to settle for only reading knowledge, but I don't ever plan to be done.

I also wanted to know why I was here on Earth in the first place. That involved the question of whether or not there is such a person as God, and if so, what God's nature might be, and what this God might expect from me. Again, this is not a goal which one completes and then moves on to something new. I have come to a certainty that God does exist. I reached that conclusion 38 years ago, and each passing year has added to my certainty. But finite creatures can never completely understand an infinite God. There is always something else for God to reveal about Himself. I believe I understand the most important thing God expects of me, and that was settled 38 years ago. But again, when God is finally done expecting new things of me here, He will graduate me to eternity and I can really start learning why He made me in the first place.

Of my other goals, the most important was that I wanted to write. I've written lots of little things, and I'm getting to the big ones. It is an important goal to me, but the other things have all ranged above it. I've also enjoyed teaching, but mainly for the way as it has allowed me to pursue the more important goals. During each era in my life, there have been special, short-term goals, but these have been the goals that I carried with me for the journey.


Thank you again, Brian. I think Jefferson called it a well-lived life. Certainly it makes me pause to reconsider my path.

Take care.


Steve said...
July 22, 2010 at 11:29 AM  

Steve, thanks for the encouragement, and for your apt observation about Wooden the other day. I enjoyed poking around on your sites, as well.

Brian said...
July 22, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

Jefferson and Franklin are also two of my main heroes.


Anonymous said...
July 22, 2010 at 9:27 PM  

Sometimes I think the hardest thing is finding a goal. When I have a goal I'm driven. Without a goal I'm lost. I pray God gives me something to conquer.

September 4, 2010 at 5:49 PM  

Great goals! Makes me reevaluate my own situation and make a few goals of my own!

September 19, 2010 at 6:45 PM  

Thank you, Leslie. Drop by and visit again.

Brian said...
September 19, 2010 at 7:55 PM  

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