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  • Writer's pictureMark Alan Williams

How To Tackle a Mountain-Sized Goal In Faith

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My first mountain-sized goal came in the fifth grade. Students were offered the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. I wanted to play drums, but my parents vetoed that idea. So I chose slide trombone. Soon I was pushing out terrible tones that sounded like a wounded elk caught in a snowstorm. Our music teacher deserved a medal, or maybe a pair of golden earplugs!

Yep, that’s me with my trombone in 1969. Before “affordable” color photography!

Learning that musical instrument was harder than I expected. Soon I was ready to quit. I announced this intention to my dad who said, “No way Jose.” Then he quoted Winston Churchill’s famous speech, “Never give up. Never. Never. Never.”

So back to band rehearsal I went, even though it sounded horrible. It was hard to learn to read the music, and it wasn’t fun.

But jump ahead 5 years and it was a ton of fun. I played in my high school’s excellent marching band. In addition, I was in the symphonic band under a wonderful director, Daniel Nawrocki. He led us to first place in state band competition all 4 years I was in Reynoldsburg High School.

Later at Moody Bible Institute I played in the concert band under the direction of Gerald Edmonds. On winter and spring breaks we toured the Eastern and Southern USA. We even toured California and played at Biola University where I later finished my undergraduate education and met Carolyn. One summer we flew to South America and toured Colombia.

Band turned out to be a fantastic experience! What started as an “impossible” mountain-sized goal turned into one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences of my youth.

Over the years I’ve tackled other mountain-sized goals and each time found tremendous fulfillment, no matter how difficult it seemed.

Perhaps you’re considering a mountain-sized goal and wondering how it can be accomplished. Here are 8 steps to tackle a mountain-sized goal in faith:

01. Pray over it.

Mountain-sized goals often start with a burden, a concern or problem to solve.

Nehemiah found a mountain-sized goal when he heard that the city of Jerusalem was in disarray and unprotected. He was so concerned to hear this that he immediately “sat down and wept.” (Nehemiah 1:4 NLT)

But he didn’t just weep. He began to pray. The rest of the verse says, “In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.”

Continue reading Nehemiah 1 and you’ll see his recorded prayer.

The first job of a believer is to pray over a potential mountain-sized goal. Just because we have a vision doesn’t mean it is from God. Not every goal is a God Goal. Prayer is the first step toward determining if the goal is a God Goal, or just a nice thought.

02. Confirm it.

When we start to consider a mountain-sized goal we need to seek two kinds of confirmation:

01. Confirmation from God.

Nehemiah sought confirmation from God through his prayers.

The Apostle Paul sought the guidance of the Spirit as he traveled to spread the Gospel. He wrote “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:22-24 NIV)

As we see in this account, a mountain-sized goal doesn’t always mean comfort and ease. Yet although warned by the Spirit that he would suffer, Paul obeyed when he received confirmation of the mountain-sized goal.

02. Confirmation from others.

We should also seek confirmation from others. Confirmation for Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and repair the wall came from an interesting source: his boss the king. Not only did he get permission to go, he received supplies and military protection from King Artaxerxes (see Nehemiah 2).

When tackling the trombone, I got confirmation and even direction from my parents. (“You will not play drums. You can play trombone.”)

Years ago when led to plant a church, we got confirmation and support from our association of churches and our local church. Not only did they confirm us, they commissioned us and helped us.

If you’re considering a mountain-sized goal, seek confirmation from others. If there is no confirmation, pull back. Perhaps the vision is for a later time. Wait until you have confirmation from God and others.

03. Write it.

When Habakkuk received a mountain-sized goal, God told him to write it: “And the LORD answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.’” (Habakkuk 2:2 ESV)

Writing down our mountain-sized goal does several things:

  • It clarifies our thinking and leading.

  • It makes the vision clear to others.

  • It unifies those who join the vision.

  • It provides a way to know when we’ve eventually fulfilled the vision.

Each of these issues are vital. It’s no wonder God told Habakkuk to write the vision plainly.

04. Believe it.

Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” (Mark 11:23 NLT)

The great thing about having a God-given mountain-sized goal is that we don’t have to be equal to the task. If it is His goal, then He is equal to the task. We just have to cooperate and believe that He will do it through us.

When I look at my abilities, I don’t see anything mountain-sized. But when I look to God, I can believe for a mountain-sized goal, because He’s such a great God! God is so powerful, it’s a no-brainer!

05. Commit to it.

You would think that if people have done the first 4 steps, then they would be committed to the goal. Yet I’ve seen people go through all 4 yet soon abandon their mountain-sized goal and head off in another direction.

This happens for various reasons:

  • Slow progress.Discouragements from others.

  • Doubting God’s calling.Finding “the next shiny object.”

Jesus spoke very unambiguously about lack of commitment to the Kingdom: “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62 NLT)

How’s that for a stern warning! The point: When God puts your hand to the plow, keep it there until the mountain-sized goal is achieved or God speaks very clearly to move in another direction.

Flitting from this to that is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Keeping your hand to the plow shows spiritual maturity.

06. Recruit to it. 

If you have a truly mountain-sized goal, you will need to recruit help to accomplish it. A mole hill sized goal won’t require assistance. But big goals demand partners.

Great Bible leaders were always recruiters:

  • Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and soon recruited all the citizens in the work of rebuilding the wall.

  • The Apostle Paul recruited many team members and never traveled alone.

  • Moses led over a million people out of Egypt.David, even before receiving the throne of Israel, recruited and led a band of warriors.

  • Jesus recruited and discipled the twelve, the 72 and others.

Leadership means recruitment to your mountain-sized goal.

07. Keep at it.

Someone said, “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.”

Sure, a few become successful quickly. But that is rare. Most slug it out in the trenches for 20 years or so.

Recently I was reminded that it was 20 years from the time of David’s anointing to be king, until the actual coronation.

During those 20 years, life wasn’t always easy for David. In fact, it was downright difficult:

  • He was nearly killed and had to run for his life.He was hunted like an animal by King Saul and his army.

  • To keep from being killed, he fled to the enemies of his people.He had to virtually beg for food to feed his family and friends.

Yet he kept at it, leaning on the promise of God that one day the vision of being king would be fulfilled.

Much of success is just keeping at it. Thomas Edison said “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90% perspiration.”

Likewise, tackling a mountain-sized goal is probably 10% glamor and 90% grit.

08. Wait for it.

Regarding His vision to Habakkuk, God said:

“If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,     for it will surely take place.     It will not be delayed.” (Habakkuk 2:3b NLT)

Not many people like waiting. Some are worse at waiting than others. But all must do it.

Scripture repeatedly says that we must “wait on the Lord” in passages like this:

“We wait for the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts find joy.” (Psalm 33:20-21a GW)

Why is waiting so important? Because:

  • In waiting on the Lord and seeking Him, we come to know Him better.

  • While waiting, we have a chance to mature into the person we need to be for the goal we’re seeking.

So wait on your mountain-sized goal and in your waiting remember this promise: “Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won’t become weary. They will walk and won’t grow tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 GW)

In 1981 Carolyn and I began full-time church planting ministry. Far from an overnight success, it was difficult. We experienced opposition right from the start. I worked very long hours. For months and years, we hung in there, even when there seemed to be minimal progress. We were no overnight success!

Yet eventually, as we just kept at it, we saw the church grow, become established and mature. We were able to own a church property, hire staff and plant other churches.

Later we left to lead another church plant. In 1998 I became a full-time missionary and mentor. In 2010 my alma mater Moody Bible Institute made me “Alumnus of the Year.”

What a contrast to the early days when I felt like an utter failure. God was so good and so faithful!

May He give you great success as you follow these 8 steps and tackle your mountain-sized goal in faith!

For more help in finding and accomplishing your mountain-sized goals, check out these articles I’ve written:

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