Setting Clear and Compelling Goals

Setting Clear and Compelling Goals

There are many pastors who refuse to set any kind of goal at all. “How can you put a goal on what God wants to do?” they will say. They may even get biblical and say something like, “Neither Jesus nor Paul ever set goals!” 
But I disagree. I think Jesus and Paul both set clear, huge, audacious goals. A careful study of Jesus’ ministry reveals that Jesus had some clear objectives he felt compelled to accomplish. 

Jesus and Paul had clear objectives

In Mark chapter one, Jesus is ministering to large crowds that gathered to experience his healing touch. Early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went to a quiet place to pray. 
By daybreak the disciples were looking for him. They said, “Jesus, everyone is looking for you!” There was already a line of people waiting to be healed by Jesus. But Jesus said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mark 1.38)
Jesus had been directed by his Father to preach the gospel in all the Jewish villages in Galilee. He had a clear objective and because it was clear, he was able to make hard decisions. I’m sure it was difficult to explain walking away from hurting people. 
Healing was certainly a good thing to do. But sometimes the “good” can be the enemy of the “best.” Through prayer, Jesus was able to discern his priorities and set a clear goal that would further his mission. 
The Apostle Paul did the same thing. In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul revealed that he had often attempted to come to Rome to preach the gospel, but had been hindered in doing so. However, he was planning to arrive soon and then from there he had his sights set on traveling to Spain (Romans 15.22-24). 
It was clear that both Jesus and Paul had Spirit-directed goals born out of times of prayer as they sought the Father for direction. I believe that every church leader should plan their ministry, evaluate their ministry, and then pray for God to give them fresh Spirit-directed goals for their ministry. 

Setting goals after periods of prayer

In our church, we set goals after periods of prayer. These goals should fit a certain criteria. They need to be SMART goals. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. has been used in business circles for years. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Here are some tips on how to set goals after periods of prayer.
1. Create specific goals
In other words, don’t make the goal so general that you wouldn’t know if you hit it or not. The goals of Jesus and Paul were clear. They were committed to going to a certain place, by a certain time, to accomplish a certain thing. I have found that leaders will often hide behind generalized goals so that they will not be exposed for having missed that goal. 
A goal for a Wednesday night youth outreach event should not be to “have a good time” or even to “glorify God.” How can you assess whether these things even happened?  A better goal would be to have fifty percent of the crowd there be seekers and clearly share the gospel with ten people. That goal is clear and specific. 
2. Create goals that will move your ministry forward
Make sure your goals are moving the ministry forward and not just articulating an action item. For example, “setting up the band” is not a goal for your Wednesday night event. That is simply an action item that needs to be done. The goal would be to clearly articulate the gospel to a certain number of people that night. The first is a thing to do, the latter is the goal that drives the ministry forward. 
3. Create goals that stretch your faith
Many leaders make their goals small so they are sure to accomplish them, but small goals never stretch your faith, and they never change the world. 
Ask God to give you a large faith goal. Ask God to give you courage to stretch for something that you have never done before. Dream big. Exercise your faith. Ask God for sea-splitting, wall-crumbling, giant-dropping, lion-stopping, audacious faith to see Him do what only He can do. 
If you don’t reach your goal, my guess is you will still have made tremendous progress. 
4. Create goals that come with accountability.
Someone must be responsible for each of the goals. Ownership is important. This is not the time for blame-shifting, excuse-making, or deferred responsibility. We are about Kingdom business. King Jesus has entrusted to us his gospel with the clear, unrelenting command to make disciples of all nations. Let’s give our best to accomplish this in our lifetime!
This blog features an excerpt from our book, Bold Moves.

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