Personal Growth


One of the moments that changed my life significantly occurred in 2010, when my wife and I were sitting in our usual spot in the Saddleback Church auditorium and Pastor Rick Warren was kicking off our Decade of Destiny spiritual growth campaign

His opening message was about having a goal, a vision, a dream for your life. He used the scriptural example of Eleazar going back to Chaldea to find a bride for Isaac, but my mind kept running to other examples of Bible heroes who articulated big dreams.

One that stands out to me is the Apostle Paul:

I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles. For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News. (Romans 1:13-15, NLT)

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Paul had a goal of getting to Rome. He envisioned it. He went after it. When he said, "I am eager to come to you in Rome," he used a word that has to do with being heated up.

He was on fire to get to Rome!

How did Paul's life end? With a journey to Rome.

Not only did Paul get there by the end of the book of Acts, but history tells us he went back there again and lost his life as a martyr before Emperor Nero. And the gospel filtered out from that chief city of the empire to the known western world at the time.

As I listened to Pastor Rick, I came to some harsh realizations about my own goal-setting practices:

  • My goals weren't big enough. As Rick puts it, "the size of your God determines the size of your goals."
  • My goals weren't always articulated or written down.
  • I hadn't visualized well enough the end result of what God had me doing.
  • My vision was too vague, and I couldn't possibly hit a target that wasn't visible in my mind.
  • I didn't have a plan for working toward my unwritten, small goals.
  • I was tired of walking by sight, living in the moment and taking life as it came to me.
  • God had a Rome for me, and he has a Rome for you.

Obviously, we need to allow God to tweak our personal ambitions at every step along the journey, but the Bible definitely presents to us a God who is thrilled with big leaps of faith. We never shock God with our audacious dreams. In fact, the opposite is usually true—God is waiting to grant us more than we've had the faith to ask him for.

So let's start asking!

Think bigger. Write down your big goals. Visualize them as completed. Form a strategy for accomplishing them. And no matter what happens, keep on going!

Brandon Cox has been a pastor since he was 19 and has served churches large and small, including serving as a pastor at Saddleback Church. Currently, he is planting a purpose-driven church in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as editor of and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders, as well as a blog about men's issues, a blog about blogging and a blog about social media.

This article originally appeared at

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