I learned a very important and personally insightful principle not long ago at at a session I was having with a friend who gives me leadership coaching and I thought I might share it with you in hopes that it might be an encouragement to someone.
We were discussing disappointments, failures, setbacks and mistakes. As part of helping me form a correct perspective, the coach told me that many people have difficulty distinguishing between “Desires” and “Goals” and thus invite discouragement, depression and even a desire to withdraw or quit. Many times people merge “desires” and “goals” into one word. Thus their desires feel like goals and when they aren’t met, they feel like they failed and if they have a tendency to place strong psychological ownership on significance and success and reputation, an unmet “goal” (even if it was in reality a “desire) can be devastating.
The difference between a “desire” and a “goal” is that a “goal” is something that you have all of almost all of the control regarding the outcome. A “desire” is something you want very badly, but you can’t always control the outcome. Goals would include: losing weight, earning a degree, finishing a book, becoming debt free. Conversely, a Desire might be wanting a fulfilling marriage, wanting to see a church or business grow or succeed, wanting to see a child turnout right or wanting to see a student achieve. In the case of those desires, ultimately there are multiple other people who have the ability to prevent you from gaining what you desire. Therefore, they cannot be goals.
I think…no, make that, I KNOW, many people who walk with sensations of failure over things like a broken marriage, a business that went into bankruptcy, a church that split, a wayward child, a broken friendship. But they had no control over how the other person(s) responded. Unless they personally instigated the problem through unBiblical behavior, they should not bear responsibility for the outcome when the other person refused or neglected their role in meeting your desire for them or for you and them.
In closing that session, he reminded me that we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves every single day. Our salvation is a product and work of Grace. God does not love us one bit more because we “succeed” or one bit less because we “fail”. If Grace was what saves us, then Grace is what keeps us. Too often, we don’t accept the Grace that God extends from Salvation and beyond.
I hope this helps you the next time you face unmet expectations or disappointment. I know it has helped me.