The Goal

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Before becoming a pastor, my role in industry was to do with process and system design implementation and improvement. One of the key thinkers or gurus in this area was a man called Eli Goldratt.   Goldratt wrote a book called “The Goal” which set out his thinking in the form of a story about a struggling factory manager. His main contribution to the field was a Theory of Constraints where he focused on identifying and managing the bottle necks in the system. 

However, his underpinning philosophy was a rigorous focus on what the true goal of any manufacturing plant was. His argument was that the true goal of any business was to make money. I guess you might move from there to say that this was the goal of the individuals concerned.  To  a significant extent, this was a helpful reminder that in the end we worked for the shareholders and yes, they did want to be sure that we were going o deliver a return for them that would be better than simply sticking their money in the bank and seeing what interest it made.

Except there are problems with the principle aren’t there? The primary one being this. If my chief goal in life is to make as much money as possible in life, then I will want to cut out anything that gets in the way, slows me down or constrains the amount of money I can make. Lot’s of business men have concluded that already and switched from investment in manufacturing which ties down their money in plant, equipment, people and materials. Better to simply trade in stocks and shares.  Of course if I can find a quicker way still that enables me to make as much money as possible then I should go for it and so you end up with pyramid selling, scams, fraud and theft. 

But what if Goldratt was wrong? What if our goal is not to make as much money as quickly as possible? What if there were other goals in life such as happiness?  Well, then we would want to remove all the constraints to those goals instead.   Christian faith suggests that our goal is different. It is summed up by the phrase “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”  John Piper has suggested that this does mean happiness is our goal but that this is true, right focused happiness in the Lord, Christian Hedonism, as he calls it.

And if this happiness, delight and joy in the Lord is the goal, then we may even find that money and our pursuit of it is the very thing that slows, down, distracts and constrains us in that pursuit of real joy. It’s not surprising them that when Jesus meets a rich young man, he tells him that he must sell everything and give all his money to the poor. Nor is it a surprise that the young man when he will not be parted from his cash goes away sad.

But it’s not just money.  The writer to the Hebrews says:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”[1]

What is it that holds you back in your pursuit of God?

[1] Hebrews 12:1-2.

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