My son took me to a bar over the holidays called Flying Axes. The idea of mixing alcohol with axes made me a little uneasy. I think everyone there, except for me, thought the two things were made for each other—like peas and carrots. As the night went on, I was aware everyone in the room had a goal. For some the goal was to hit the bullseye with the axe and win the game. For others the goal was to see how much alcohol they could drink. For me, the goal was to return home with as many fingers as I left with.
If you put a target on the wall, paint a red dot in the middle of the target, and place an axe in close proximity—axes will start to fly! People like setting their sights on a goal and then hurling themselves towards the target. I believe all humans are hard–wired to pursue goals and dreams. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten how to set goals that incite passion or create dreams that add value to the world.
Consider the typical New Year’s resolution. They stand as an indictment that most of us have forgotten how to dream and set life inspiring goals. Most New Year’s resolutions will focus on exercising more, saving more money, eating more healthy, and losing more weight. Yuck! No wonder people break their resolutions before mid January.
Over the past decade, I set at least one or more of these goals as my resolution for the New Year. I still weigh about the same as I did ten years ago—give or take twenty–one pounds. I still prefer eating chips on the couch rather than riding my exercise bike, and I still spend more money than I save. After ten years of failed attempts at keeping my New Year’s resolutions, I’m wondering if this year I should set a more grandiose goal, one that adds adventure to my life and value to the world. Would a whimsical dream generate the passion I need in order to hurl myself towards the target?
This year, I want to learn how to live and love like Jesus. How’s that for grandiosity? Jesus is the most passionate person I know. He lived a whimsical life, filled with grace and truth. He paid no attention to the social norms that suggested some people were better than others. On the contrary, Jesus was drawn to people who were pushed to the margins of life and considered “less than” by those who populated the dominant culture. He exemplified radical generosity—giving everything he had, including his own life, to express his love for people. He was a man of peace who loved playing with children, telling great stories about adventures in a kingdom, and sharing food with hungry people. He showed hospitality to strangers and included people in his inner circle who were typically excluded. He was courageous and spoke truth to power, even when those in power were plotting to kill him. Jesus was a champion of forgiveness and new beginnings, especially when people failed at hitting the target of what others considered a successful life.
With a man like Jesus set as the bullseye for life you can’t go wrong; even if you miss the target you wind up at a better place than where you started. Here’s my three–part plan for chasing my goal:
The plan of learning how to live and love like Jesus sounds simple enough, but it feels a little risky; especially now that I’ve written it down and shared it with my friends. Even though it feels risky, I’m encouraged by this truth: a goal worth pursuing assumes risk, like throwing an axe at a target next to a guy who’s had too much to drink . . . somebody could lose a finger.
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Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.