“Commit to Jehovah whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”​—PROV. 16:3.

SONGS: 135, 144

1-3. (a) What challenge confronts all young people, and how might this be illustrated? (See opening picture.) (b) How can Christian youths best meet this challenge?

SUPPOSE you plan to travel to a distant town for an important event. Getting there requires a long journey by bus. At the bus station, you are overwhelmed by crowds of passengers and many buses. How good it is that you have your goal clearly in mind​—finding the bus that is going to your chosen destination! Boarding a bus going anywhere else would mean that you would head in the wrong direction.

2 Young people today might be likened to those passengers. Adolescents face a long journey, not by bus, but in life. At times they may feel overwhelmed by the opportunities and decisions that confront them. Youths, you can make it easier for yourselves if you have a good idea where you want to go in life. Where should you be headed?

3 This article answers that question by encouraging youths to focus their life on their desire to please Jehovah. That  means including Jehovah in all aspects of life​—education, employment, family responsibilities, and so on. And it means reaching out for spiritual goals. Young people who keep focused on serving Jehovah can be sure of his blessing in making a success of life.​—Read Proverbs 16:3.

WHY SET SPIRITUAL GOALS?

4. What will we examine in this article?

4 Setting theocratic goals early in life makes good sense. Why? We will examine three reasons. The first two show that working on spiritual goals strengthens a person’s relationship with Jehovah; the third highlights the benefit of aiming for theocratic targets early in life.

5. What is the primary reason for setting spiritual goals?

5 The primary reason for setting spiritual goals is to show Jehovah how grateful we are for his love and for what he has done for us. The psalmist observed: “It is good to give thanks to Jehovah . . . For you have made me rejoice, O Jehovah, because of your deeds; because of the works of your hands I shout joyfully.” (Ps. 92:1, 4) As a young person, think of all you owe to Jehovah. Your life, your faith, the Bible, the congregation, and your wonderful hope for the future. Giving priority to spiritual matters is a way of showing gratitude to God for these blessings, and that brings you closer to him.

6. (a) What effect do spiritual goals have on our relationship with Jehovah? (b) What goals can be set at an early age?

6 The second reason is that once you start working toward spiritual goals, you begin building a record of good works in Jehovah’s eyes. This brings you even closer to him. The apostle Paul promised: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” (Heb. 6:10) You are never too young to set goals. Christine was ten years old when she made up her mind to read regularly the life stories of faithful Witnesses. At 12 years of age, Toby set the goal of reading the entire Bible before his baptism. Maxim was 11 years old and his sister Noemi was one year younger when they got baptized. Both then began working toward the goal of Bethel service. To help themselves keep focused, they put a Bethel application up on a wall in their home. Why not consider which goals are important to you and then start working toward them?​—Read Philippians 1:10, 11.

7, 8. (a) How can setting goals make decision-making easier? (b) Why did one teenager choose not to go to a university?

7 The third reason for setting goals early in life has to do with decision-making. Adolescents have to make decisions about education, employment, and other matters. Making decisions is like choosing the right road when you come to an intersection. As long as you know the way to your destination, choosing the right road presents no problem. In the same way, if you know what your goals are, making good decisions becomes easier. Proverbs 21:5 says: “The plans of the diligent surely lead to success.” The earlier you make plans by setting good goals, the sooner you will have success. That is what Damaris experienced when she faced an important decision as a teenager.

8 Damaris finished her basic schooling with top grades. She could have accepted a scholarship to study law at a university, but she chose instead to work in a  bank. Why? “I made up my mind very early on to pioneer. That meant working part-time. With a university degree in law, I could have earned a lot of money, but I would have had little chance of finding part-time work.” Damaris has now been a pioneer for 20 years. Does she feel that she set the right goal and made the correct decision as a teenager? “At my workplace in the bank, I now have much contact with lawyers. They do the sort of work I would be doing had I studied law. Many, though, are very unhappy with their jobs. My decision to pioneer helped me sidestep frustration in a secular career and opened the way for years of joy in Jehovah’s service.”

9. Why do our young people deserve warm praise?

9 Thousands of young ones in congregations all over the world deserve warm praise. They commit themselves to Jehovah and focus their lives on theocratic goals. Such young people enjoy life to the full while at the same time learning to follow Jehovah’s guidance in all endeavors. These include education, employment, and family life. “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart,” wrote Solomon. “In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5, 6) Youths in the Christian congregation are precious in the eyes of Jehovah, who loves them dearly and gives them his protection, guidance, and blessing.

BECOME WELL-PREPARED TO GIVE A WITNESS

10. (a) Why must the ministry be high on our list of priorities? (b) How can we become effective in the ministry?

10 A young person who focuses his life on the desire to please Jehovah gives special attention to the ministry. Jesus Christ stressed that “the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) Because the preaching work is so urgent, it should be high on our list of priorities. Could you set the goal of sharing in the ministry more often? Could you pioneer? But what if you find little joy in preaching? And how can you be more effective at giving a witness? Two basic steps will help: Prepare well, and do not give up sharing what you know with others. It might surprise you how much joy you will then find when preaching.

How do you prepare to give a witness? (See paragraphs 11, 12)

11, 12. (a) What can young ones do to prepare to give a witness? (b) How did one youth use an opportunity to give a witness at school?

11 You could start by working out an answer to a question commonly raised by schoolmates, such as “Why do you believe in God?” Our jw.org website contains articles designed to help young people work out for themselves how to answer that question. Look under BIBLE TEACHINGS > TEENAGERS. There you will find a worksheet entitled “Why Do I Believe in God?” The worksheet will guide you in preparing your own answer. It provides three scriptures you can use when explaining your conviction​—Hebrews 3:4, Romans 1:20, and Psalm 139:14. Using these worksheets, you can prepare an answer to one question after another.​—Read 1 Peter 3:15.

12 As you have opportunity, encourage your schoolmates to look up jw.org for themselves. That is what Luca did. His class was discussing different religions, and Luca noticed that the textbook contained some wrong ideas about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although he felt hesitant, he asked permission to correct these false claims, and the teacher  agreed. Not only did Luca explain his beliefs but he also showed our website to the whole class. For homework the teacher asked each pupil to view the whiteboard animation Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists. Luca was thrilled to be able to give a good witness.

13. Why should we not give up when difficulties arise?

13 Do not lose heart, even if the road you travel gets bumpy at times. (2 Tim. 4:2) When difficulties arise, stick to your goals. Katharina was 17 years old when she made it her goal to witness to each colleague at work. One person insulted her several times, but she refused to be intimidated. Her fine conduct in the face of difficulties impressed another colleague named Hans. As a result, he read our publications, studied the Bible, and got baptized. Katharina had moved away and did not know all of this. Imagine her joy when 13 years later she was sitting in the Kingdom Hall with her family and Hans was introduced as the visiting speaker! How good that Katharina did not give up on her goal to witness to her workmates!

DO NOT BE DISTRACTED

14, 15. (a) When under pressure, what should youths keep in mind? (b) How can youths combat peer pressure?

14 So far this article has encouraged you to make up your mind to focus your life on your desire to serve Jehovah. This means centering your life on spiritual goals. Other youths of your age probably center their lives on having a good time, and they will likely invite you to join them. Sooner or later you will need to show how determined you are to stick to the choices you have made. Do not be distracted by peer pressure. After all, thinking again of the bus illustration, you surely would not board a bus going just anywhere simply because the passengers on that bus appear to be having a good time.

15 There are a number of ways to combat peer pressure. For instance, avoid  situations that are known to be tempting. (Prov. 22:3) And remind yourself of the painful consequences of joining others in bad behavior. (Gal. 6:7) A further help is to admit your own need for advice. Humility will allow you to be open to suggestions from your parents and spiritually mature ones in the congregation.​—Read 1 Peter 5:5, 6.

16. Relate an experience showing the benefits of humility.

16 Humility moved Christoph to accept good advice. Shortly after he got baptized, he began training regularly at a fitness center. Other young people at the center urged him to join their sports club. He spoke about the matter to an elder, who asked Christoph to think about certain dangers before making a decision, such as the risk of getting infected by the spirit of competition. Christoph joined the club anyway. In time, however, he discovered that the sport was violent, even dangerous. Again he spoke to several elders, all of whom gave him Scriptural advice. “Jehovah sent me good advisers, and I listened to Him, even if it took some time.” Are you humble enough to accept sound advice?

17, 18. (a) What does Jehovah want for young people today? (b) What sad situation may arise in adulthood, and how can this be avoided? Illustrate.

17 “Rejoice, young man [or woman], while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.” (Eccl. 11:9) Yes, Jehovah wants you as a young person to have a joyful heart. This article has highlighted one way to make that possible. Keep yourself focused on theocratic goals, including Jehovah in all your plans. The earlier you start to do this, the sooner you will sense Jehovah’s guidance, protection, and blessing. Think of all the sound counsel you find in God’s Word, and take to heart the advice: “Remember, then, your Grand Creator in the days of your youth.”​—Eccl. 12:1.

18 No one remains young for long. Young people quickly progress to adulthood. Sad to say, as adults, many then regret having followed the wrong goals when they were young or, just as frustrating, having had no goals at all. But youths who today keep focused on theocratic goals will well into adulthood be deeply satisfied with the choices they made. This is the case with Mirjana, who as a teenager was very talented at sports. She was asked to take part in the Winter Olympic Games but chose instead to take up the full-time ministry. Over 30 years later, Mirjana is still in full-time service, together with her husband. She explains: “Fame, honor, power, and riches are transitory and lowly goals in life. Serving God and trying to contribute in some small way to helping people spiritually are truly noble and lasting goals.”

19. Summarize the benefits of being focused on spiritual goals early in life.

19 Young people in the congregation deserve warm commendation for the way they meet these challenges and for being determined to focus their lives on serving Jehovah. Youths do this by reaching out for spiritual goals and by giving the preaching work high priority. Moreover, they make up their mind not to be distracted by this world. Adolescents can be sure that their hard work is not in vain. They have the loving support of their brothers and sisters, and when they commit themselves to Jehovah, their plans in life will succeed.