Have you ever felt like you were being pulled in several directions at once, and you just weren’t able to achieve your goals? We can have excellent goals—and yet not know which ones to pursue with the limited time and resources we have!
In talking with a young man who was considering a number of fields of endeavor, he asked me for advice on settling for a career path. As I listened, I realized that he had talent and his ideas had merit and value in the marketplace. Yet, the specific tasks towards accomplishing these ideas required him to follow very different directions. As he wrestled with making a decision, he felt the pressure of making a timely, well-thought-out choice. His decision would affect the financial stability and success of his family. Such important, life-altering choices can be very stressful.
In considering his options, it was clear that several of them were viable and had great potential, but he could not successfully accomplish them all. His dilemma brought to mind an ancient proverb attributed to the well-known Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 B.C.). He reportedly said, “He who chases two rabbits catches neither!” This simple bit of folk wisdom highlights an important principle. It is essential to have a clearly defined goal if you are to find success. A short attention span and the tendency to try to go in more than one direction at once is a sure path to failure. Equally important is to have the right goal, one that has legitimate ends, based on integrity and lawful purpose.
A study of those individuals who have made great contributions and enjoyed success in any field reveals that they had clearly defined, worthwhile goals and that they pursued them with energy, drive, and tenacity.
Understanding Biblical instruction is also a key to success, and the Bible has a great deal to say on this subject. Jesus was approached by a young man who asked an important question, one that every thinking person should ask. “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus told him, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus replied, “‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16–22).
So, while the young man wanted eternal life, his emphasis was on pursuing wealth. He was “chasing two rabbits.” In another place, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Mammon—meaning the unreasonable desire for, or emphasis on, wealth.
Which “rabbit” will you pursue? That is, what is your primary goal in life? The Bible states plainly, to have spiritual wellbeing and true prosperity we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Righteousness? What could that mean? Anciently King David defined it this way: “My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172).
Solomon also understood these things and was inspired to write, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). Good advice, then and now.
There are many distractions and a lot of confusion in society all around us, yet setting the goal to seek first God’s kingdom and put His ways into practice serving others will bring real peace of mind—and the spiritual and physical blessings that we desire.