How to manage significant goals

Our almost 19-year-old grandson, Titus, and his girlfriend, Jane, spent the weekend with us. They had a goal of climbing South Sister, which is the third tallest mountain in Oregon—right behind Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.


Jane and Titus on the top of South Sister looking north toward Middle and North Sister

When they weren’t summiting mountains, we talked over dinner on our back deck, over dinner at a food truck court—asking about their plans and hopes and how they got to where they are today.

Titus knows that he wants to be in service. He’s considered becoming a law enforcement officer, a youth pastor, a firefighter. Or maybe join the military since he comes from a long line of Marines.

He spent this past summer in the Dominican Republic in service—farming, construction work, interacting with the locals, and serving those living near the garbage heaps who make their living by combing through the trash.

It was a life-changing experience. For the first time, Titus was independent of his parents—getting into the rhythm of the work schedule and what was expected of him—and seeing how the other half lives.

Which inspired him to add “missionary work” to his list of career possibilities.

Back at home, he volunteered to help with the middle school age group at his church.

He also interviewed and was hired on with a company that provides college tuition benefits. Until he knows exactly what he wants to pursue, he’ll start with general ed courses at the local college.

Titus has taken the first steps toward making some major decisions in the next months and years that will dictate the course of his life. He might not know what steps come next. But he will.

Climbing South Sister is a rather significant undertaking. It took Titus and Jane several hours to summit. They did it by setting smaller goals within the larger objective. “We’ll take a break at the next hairpin turn, at that trail sign up there, at that big pile of rocks.”

They stopped and drank water and rested when they reached the goal. And then they set another small goal.

Mile after mile, step by step, they reached the summit—10,363 feet above sea level.

I came across a meme featuring Christ’s words from John 15:16:

I chose you. I wanted you. I appointed you. I set you where you are.

This may be a loose translation of the original manuscript, but it is truth, nevertheless.

We are all wanted by a God who created us for relationship with Him. And He knows the steps that are ordained for our lives.

Is there a significant undertaking in your future? Do you want to teach ESL courses in Mongolia? Get married? Start a non-profit? Retire? Become an astronaut? Sell your house and move into the mountains?

What if—until we reach the place of the vision, until we know which step to take next—we could practice being faithful in the little things along the way?

Show up for work. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Mow the lawn. Write the thank-you note to Aunt Clara. Help our neighbor repair the fence that blew down.

Mile after mile. Step by step. Until we reach the place of God’s appointing.

Side note:

Titus and Jane may have had a goal of summiting South Sister, but Grandpa Dan’s goal was to dump the grandkids in Suttle Lake.

Grandparents = 2. Grandkids = 0.




What do you want your home to be?


Good friendships are like eating breakfast


  1. Richard R Kelly

    Marlys – If Titus is interested in both the military and law enforcement, he may want to consider the Coast Guard, which is both a branch of the armed forces and a Federal law enforcement agency. I served 37 years in the Coast Guard and would be happy to talk to him if he is interested. Rich Kelly 703-424-0764

  2. Diane Albert

    As Martin Luther King said, “ You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step!”
    Joe & I love your writing. ????

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