What the Wise Men Taught Me about Goal Setting

I’ve spent years researching what drives a person to strive for something great, never resting until a goal is reached. No lessons related to personal achievement have impressed me more than those I have drawn from the account of the Magi.

Focus brings success
First, note that the Wise Men were focused on one star, not 15 or 20. They were unified, organized, and headed the same direction. Many of today’s problems could be solved if families, churches, and other groups could make sure everyone involved was following the same map.

The Magi reminded me of Joshua, who stated that as for him and his house, they would follow the Lord. Joshua did not occasionally pray for God’s wisdom and at other times be guided by instinct or public opinion. The direction was always God’s and everyone in Joshua’s household understood that.

Following God’s direction led Joshua and his followers to one victory after another until they possessed the Promised Land. How sad that the previous generation, led by Moses, fixed its sights on multiple stars, leading to aimless wandering and eventual death in the desert.

The Magi were wiser. They were like David, who asserted of God, “You will show me the path of life” (Psalm 16:11).

Goals provide motivation
Second, the Wise Men were goal oriented. They wanted to find the Messiah, and they refused to end their journey until they did. Herod’s deceitful words could not fool them. Weariness did not discourage them. Nothing thwarted their quest to see the Messiah face-to-face.

What would Christianity be like if thousands of modern Christians had the same zeal to seek the Savior? Bible reading would be continual. Prayer would be heartfelt and soul piercing. Christian service would be tireless.

It can be that way. Isaiah 40:31 promises that those who seek and serve God “shall run, and not be weary…shall walk, and not faint.”

To the Magi, the quest to find Jesus was stimulating and exciting, even if it was arduous. It stirred their souls so mightily that they pushed through their fatigue. What an example to us. How much better “to serve with gladness” than to endure simply for the sake of duty.

Study to be wise
Third, the Wise Men were diligent students of the Scriptures. They had read the prophets and, thus, were able to discern the meaning of the great star in the East. We should be no less diligent. “Your word have I hidden in my heart,” teaches Psalm 119:11.

A thorough knowledge of the Bible puts a sword of righteousness in our hands. Jesus quoted the Old Testament to rebuff Satan’s temptations in the wilderness. Jesus also quoted Scripture to the rich young ruler, to the Jewish elders, and to the lawyers who confronted Him with tradition rather than laws.

The Magi were futurists. With lessons from the Bible, we can be too. There are no surprises to the student of God’s Word, for God is the beginning and the end of all things. And He has seen fit to reveal His wisdom to us through His Word. The wise still turn to it.

Seek truth
Finally, the Wise Men sought truth and goodness. They were not naïve about the fact that Israel was evil and backslidden; however, they were confident the Messiah would set things right.

We live in a time of war, civil strife, and perversion. Christ is our only unwavering standard of truth and goodness. He was the only person “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He is our flawless model.

The Magi accepted by faith everything they had learned about the Messiah. They sought Him continuously and remained faithful to their quest until they saw Him face-to-face.

Wise Men still seek Him.

Dennis E. Hensley is a CWG Editorial Board member and the author of more than 50 books, including Surprises and Miracles of the Season (Beacon Hill Press), from which this was adapted.


  1. margaretnyman says

    A thought provoking post, Dennis, and I appreciated your multiple insights on the magi. I specially loved this sentence: “There are no surprises to the student of God’s Word, for God is the beginning and the end of all things.” Thanks for your efforts!

  2. says

    Thank you very much for this inspiring post. “Nothing thwarted their quest to see the Messiah face-to-face.” What a powerful motivation to stay focused and goal oriented. Much needed at this time of the year. God bless you.

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