The Goals You Shouldn't Set

The joy of the LORD is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

I was speaking at a church conference when a woman who was attending invited me to her home for dinner with her family. The woman had been a Christian for 20 years, but her husband was not a Christian. After I arrived it didn't take me long to realize that the real reason she had invited me to dinner was to win her husband to Christ.

I discovered later that the woman had been severely depressed for many years. Her psychiatrist insisted that her depression was endogenous and she staunchly agreed. But I believe her depression stemmed from a wrong goal. For 20 years she had based her success as a Christian on winning her husband and children to Christ. She had prayed for them, witnessed to them, and invited guest preachers home to dinner. She had said everything she could say and done everything she could do, but to no avail. As the futility of her efforts loomed larger, her faith faltered, her hope dimmed, and her depression grew.

Her husband adequately provided for the physical needs of his family. He simply didn't see any need for God. I shared with him about my life and ministry during our visit, but I didn't force my faith on him. I trust that I was a positive witness. In the meantime, his wife's increasing depression was destroying her witness.

You should, of course, desire that your loved ones come to Christ, and pray and work to that end. Your goal is to be a positive witness by becoming the spouse or parent God has called you to be. Then you must leave the results to God. Assuming responsibility for the salvation of your loved ones is beyond your ability. Every loved one can choose not to respond to Christ. Depression often signals that you are desperately clinging to a goal you have little or no chance of achieving, and that's not a healthy goal.

Dr. Anderson, Freedom in Christ and Harvest House Publishers

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