December 27, 2014 Leave a comment
Individuals often make resolutions for a new year and pastors often set goals for their churches or the new year. The personal resolutions are often forgotten and the goals for a church frequently fall short.
I know a church where the pastor set an attendance goal at the beginning of the new year for the church to achieve by the end of the year. They didn’t meet it.
Goal setting can be good, but looking back on my ministry I’m not sure goals are all that we make them out to be. There can be a sense of obligation to set goals, after all, isn’t that what any good leader worth his or her salt would do? Actually, goal setting is easy to do; achieving the goal is another story, and one that doesn’t always have a happy ending.
Sometimes I think goals that leaders set never really trickle down to motivate the followers, it just makes the leaders feel good for having set them. Corporate buying into a goal is a tough process.
I’ve also sensed that my setting exciting goals for our church for the future could be a distraction from doing the better and more difficult work of grasping the opportunities (sometimes fairly well hidden) of what is at hand. Then too, there’s the reality that we can never predict the future and so we often find ourselves making things up as we go along instead of carrying out a carefully crafted plan of action toward a certain set of goals. I doubt Moses had a clear plan of action with objectives and goals in mind of how to lead, let alone feed, the people of Israel as they made their way toward the Promised Land. He certainly didn’t start out with the idea it would be a forty year process!
I can think of several goals I set for myself and my ministry years ago that never happened. On the other hand, God’s acted in some wonderfully serendipitous ways over those same years. It was that great theologian Woody Allen who said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.”
I don’t want to communicate that I believe goals are not good, I believe they can be. It’s just that they need to be kept in proper perspective. I want my heart and soul be in such a place with the Lord that I can both sense the goals for which He would have me aim and also be sensitive to His moment-by-moment leading.
Happy New Year!