#ItSeemsToMe … Next Year Begins Now
I know, next year seems far. far, away.
Why think about 365 days into the very uncertain future?
Because the goals we set today will determine how much more prayer-capacity, care-opportunity, share-ability our teams and congregations will have when we return to this date a year from now. Unless we have a destination in mind, we may spend the next 12 months wandering in a wilderness of simply repeating the same kind of prayers and recycling the same meetings and gatherings.
Early in my ministry I devoted significant time to researching the role of leaders and the responsibility of a good leader to set good goals. Two helpful teachings have traveled with me since then.
1) “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” For me, that statement lifted goal-setting from a self-manufactured idea of what I want to accomplish to a loftier objective revealed through the prayer partnership I was developing with the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit can and often has used preachers or speakers, books or workshops, to reveal that objective but the best goals I set for our teams or congregation came directly from the mind of Christ. Lesson learned? When it comes to a question about what goals to set for prayer, the first step is always to pray:
a. Ask – a question
b. Seek – be still and listen
c. Knock – open that door and move forward
Deadline? Obviously that refers to establishing a target date by which to accomplish the objective. If a specific date is not appropriate, consider paraphrasing to: “A goal is a dream with a destination” so that you can be confident as a leader that the journey you are asking your members to take is headed in a specific direction–a place worth the efforts it will take to change/learn/grow.
2) “Every goal must be ownable, reachable, measureable.” Stating a goal is often not adequate. A set of strategic questions will help us dig deeper to strengthen the transformational potential of the goals:
*Is this goal ownable? Will the members of the team or the leaders of church or the members of the congregation buy into the purpose of this specific idea? Will they be able to see a personal benefit to their discipleship? Will they have participated in the goal-setting process?
*Is this goal reachable? With Christ, all things are possible, but have we set a standard (of time invested or persons impacted, for example) that we would like to achieve but will probably not aspire to? Are we over (or under) reaching? Sometimes less is more, if it accurately reflects the level of faith and opportunity He has given to us.
*Is this goal measureable? How will we know when we’ve succeeded? If our goal is to allow for more participation in the prayer experience, (weeknight or Sunday worship prayer) then it will be simple to assess our progress. If the goal is to deepen everyone’s personal relationship with the Lord through prayer, we will need to involve our members in the assessing and evaluating process. In order to measure a goal, the leader must establish a process that includes the persons for which he/she is establishing the objective and create a safe environment for honest discussion, reflection, even failure.
Bonus! “If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time.” One year from today, what will those you steward in ministry say you aimed at? And don’t forget, if you’ve aimed and hit the mark, give credit to the Spirit and celebrate the success!
It seems to me, next year begins right now.