Lessons from the Mustard Seed on Setting Goals

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 (NIV).

Jesus spoke to his followers in parables, or short stories that use familiar things to teach spiritual lessons.  Jesus used the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32) to teach about the Kingdom of God. 

image of one mustard seed on a fingertip with title text overlay - Lessons from the Mustard Seed on Setting Goals

The Importance of Setting Goals

We have talked before about the importance of setting goals in the post How to Let Faith Drive You When Setting Goals

Today we are going to take a look at Matthew 17:20 and discover what the humble mustard seed can teach us about goals.

It is believed that the type of plant Jesus is referring to is black mustard [1].  (We will look at some details about this particular plant. [2])

1. The mustard seed is tiny – but the plant can grow up to 9 feet tall

I love the first part of Zechariah 4:10 (NLT): “Do not despise these small beginnings…”  Mustard seeds are only 1 mm, black or dark brown, and hard [3] – it is easy to look at something this size and overlook it. 

But remember that the greatest things begin in the smallest, most humble way.  The black mustard plant makes a definite impression! 

It can grow up to nine feet tall with branches that spread outward, broad leaves, and bright yellow flowers. 

What dream has God placed in your heart?  What keeps coming to mind when you think about your calling?  Pay attention to those things because it is the Holy Spirit whispering in your heart.

2. Mustard can grow in a number of climates & thrive in unexpected places

The Black Mustard is native to Eurasia but it grows globally from North Africa, to central Asia and the Middle East, Europe, and North America. 

The mustard plant doesn’t necessarily grow in neat rows in carefully cultivated soil.  It grows allow roadways or other “waste places” – places that are otherwise overlooked. 

The mustard plant is hearty, meaning it can survive a wide range of circumstances: heat and cold, different levels of moisture, and sun exposure. 

When God’s dream takes root in our heart, it gives us confidence to face difficult times and thrive! 

When you are praying about goals and seeing them come to fruition, remember that God is always at work.  The answers to prayers can come in unexpected places.

3. The roots are strong

The mustard plant has a taproot system [4].  (The main root is shaped like a spike and smaller, fibrous roots spread out from the main root.) 

This root system is particular tenacious, and one of the reasons the plants thrive in unexpected areas.  The roots run deep, and are not easily removed, and spread wide to find nutrients. 

A goal that is established in God’s will is deeply rooted and not easily shaken.  Difficult times send roots (faith) deeper into the soil.  With firm roots we are not easily shaken.

The mustard seed represents how something small and insignificant can grow into something great.  Goals can begin small and seem insignificant, but goals established by God will thrive in unexpected places.

[1] Parable of the mustard seed  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Mustard_Seed

[2] Black Mustard Brassica nigra Mustard family (Brassicaceae)  http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/black_mustard.htm

Black Mustard Brassica nigra Mustard family (Brassicaceae) . (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2018, from http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/black_mustard.htm

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica_nigra

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taproot

Copyright: oilslo / 123RF Stock Photo


image of bowl full of mustard seeds with title text overlay - Lessons from the Mustard Seed on Setting Goals
image of bowl full of mustard seeds with title text overlay - Lessons from the Mustard Seed on Setting Goals

Be sure to share or pin for later!


  1. Oh, I love this! I pinned one of your pics to my Pinterest board, Equipping Godly Women. May God bless you even more abundantly in 2020 than ever before!!

  2. I always love digging deeper into the science behind God’s creation. This insight about the mustard seed, for example… it’s awe-inspiring how He has created so many things for us to learn about and enjoy that show us a living example of His Truth. Amazing!

  3. Beautiful, and so true. The Lord has continually been reminding me to return to Him alone for guidance in navigating the plans He has placed on my heart, because the world is full of “ideas” but very few actually lead back to Him. If I really desire to see the dreams of my heart fulfilled, it makes most sense to seek Him for the path to fulfillment, rather than going it alone and seeking everyone else’s paths for their own purpose fulfillment. He has surely had me thinking a lot lately…

    1. Yes!! How thankful I am for His direction. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your thoughts! ~Julie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *