“Should ministry leaders set goals?” is a question I am often asked. The question is about ministry leaders setting a target for something they want to see the ministry achieve collectively. “Yes, they should” is my typical response, but that response deserves an asterisk. Actually five asterisks. Here are five big mistakes ministry leaders make when they think about setting goals.
1. Selfish goals
If the end result of the goal is merely the ministry or the leader’s reputation and renown, the goal is ultimately not about God’s kingdom. It is about a lesser one, one that will quickly fade. As ministry leaders set goals, they should do so with prayer and deep dependence on Him. Because goals set in the flesh will result in lots of people attempting to meet goals the Lord never initiated.
2. No goals
Because of the above item, some ministry leaders resist setting any goals. Perhaps it feels unspiritual and disconnected from preaching and teaching the Scripture. Perhaps they have found the “vision talk” exhausting as some have taken verses out of context and applied them to ministry settings. But not to set goals is a mistake. Setting goals gives the team a shared direction. Without goals, the team can move in multiple directions without an overarching sense of focus.
3. Too many goals
An often-quoted Russian proverb states, “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” This pithy statement resonates because we have all seen the folly of multi-tasking, of attempting to do too many things at once. A ministry leader who sets too many goals will have a hard time seeing any of them realized. There is a limited amount of money, energy, and people to be deployed in achieving a goal, so it is wise to leverage resources against fewer goals.
4. Small goals
Small goals that can be realized without the hand of God fail to drive a team to their knees. They fail to weaken a team before the Lord. Small goals fail to rally a team and pull the best from them. Small goals do nothing to help put a team in a posture of deeper dependence on Him.
5. Disconnected goals
If a ministry has declared a strategy (and a ministry should declare a strategy), goals must be aligned to the strategy that is already in place. Goals set outside a ministry strategy will pull energy away from what has been declared to be important. Goals set outside a ministry strategy will undermine the ministry strategy. Set goals that are deeply aligned to the mission and strategy of the ministry.