A Simple S.M.A.R.T Way to Follow Jesus


When we read the Bible, we can move from just knowing it, do actually doing it, by asking ourselves, “If these words from God are true, how could I practice this? How could I live it out in my everyday life? How could I obey it?”

While walking and talking one day with his followers, Jesus breaks the news to them that he’s leaving them soon. But when he does, he says he'll give his friends who love him a few supernatural perks—purpose, power and his presence. The chance to do greater things than he did. Anything they ask in Jesus name. His Spirit as an advocate to God on their behalf. Jesus says to his friends, “If you love me, do what I’m teaching you. If you want these things—purpose, divine power, my constant presence in you—then obey me, because you love me” (my paraphrase from John 14).

Yes, we’re called to love people and love God. But that tends to get a little vague. So if we want to really get around to doing love, we could try to simply be S.M.A.R.T. about it—Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely.

We’ve heard the variations on this business acronym for goal setting, but here’s my version:

  • Is your obedience Specific? (Can you say what exactly you plan to do?)

  • Is it Measurable? (Do you know how to tell when you’ve completed it?)

  • Is it Action-Oriented? (Is it something you can do. I mean, is it a verb?)

  • Is it Realistic? (Is it actually possible?)

  • Is it Timely? (I’ve heard that if we don’t do it in the next 24 to 48 hours, it’s likely we won’t do it).

For example, if we read “If you love me, obey my commandments” in John 14:15, we might decide to look up all the phrases with action verbs in Jesus’ teaching, so that we know what commandments he's talking about to obey.

  • Is that Specific enough? Yes, it's a goal or task that's clearly defined.

  • Is it Measurable? Yes. I’ll know I’m finished when I have a list in front of me.

  • Is it Action-Oriented? Yes. It’s something I’m doing, not just a vague notion like “I’m going to obey Jesus”.

  • Is it Realistic? Yes. I can do research and make a list this week.

  • Is it Timely? No. I haven’t decided when I’ll do it. I look at my calendar and see that I have an hour slot at noon on Friday with no interruptions. I put it on the calendar so I won’t forget to do it then.

So we can follow Jesus by loving him by obeying him and being SMART about it.

Try it with the next scripture you read. Let me know how you practiced it! It’s going to be a good story. An adventure doing something with Jesus always is—especially when we have his purpose, power, and his presence.