Principles For Goal Setting That Work

Years ago I picked up a book titled, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else” by David P. Campbell, PhD. I bought it because of the title, but it also turned out to be a great read.

Goal setting is simply a way, with God’s help, to determine where you want to end up…at the end of your life, the end of a decade, the end of a year, a month or a day.  I believe that Jesus had goals, as well as did Paul, Moses, Nehemiah, to name a few.

Here some excellent thoughts from Matt Perman on principles for goals that will work.


Matt is the author of What's Best Next.

Originally posted by Matt Perman on March 14, 2014

“Seven Principles For Goal Setting That Work”

Executives who do not ask themselves, ‘What can I contribute?’ are not only likely to be aiming too low, they are likely to aim at the wrong things.

—   Peter Drucker

How do you make change happen? More than that, how do you make the right change happen? When there is a gap between what is and what you want to be, how do you cross that gap?

This is where we enter the realm of goals.

In my first job out of graduate school, I was given a massive task that was far beyond anything I had been prepared for: redesign the entire website for the major ministry I worked for—while launching a nationwide radio program and keeping several other initiatives in motion as well.

So how did I keep things together? I learned about setting goals.

At first, I got all caught up in all the different types of goals we encounter, and the detailed (and sometimes overly complex!) processes for defining our goals.

Fortunately, I came to discover that more important than the particular process we use to set our goals are some fundamental principles that can help us identify the right goals in the first place.

With those principles, I set our goals for the website redesign. When we released the site, it was a turning point for our ministry and our primary website metrics quadrupled within four months. I’ve since used these principles whenever I need to set goals (which is a lot!—I set yearly goals, annual goals, weekly goals, and much more), and they have never let me down.

So no matter what types of goals you are setting or for what time frame, here are seven core principles for setting goals that will help you make a bigger difference and get you to a place you actually want to be.

1. First ask “what needs to be done?”

Goals are about making a contribution. Therefore the first question you need to ask is not “what do I want to do?” but rather “what needs to be done?” Asking this question first focuses our attention on contribution rather than simply activity or what will serve ourselves.

The point here is not that our own interests don’t matter. They do matter—immensely. The issue is the end towards which you direct your interests. When setting goals, you need to ask first what outcomes your family needs, what outcomes your organization needs, and what outcomes your community needs, not first what outcomes you need. You need to put your interests in the service of others, not first yourself (see Philippians 2:4-5).

2. Then ask “where can I contribute best?”

When you ask the question of what needs to be done, there will almost always be more than one good answer. This is where you take into account what you are passionate about, your strengths, your interests, and what you want to do. When there is more than one thing that needs to be done, choose the one that is most in line with your interests, skills, and strengths.

The relationship between what needs to be done and what energizes you is iterative—thinking through each side can affect the other. What you are looking for is the overlap. Except for extreme cases (emergencies where there is no other option), don’t compromise here.

3. Ask “what are the constraints?” last, not first.

Most people put this question first, and that’s what ends up creating so many problems in the long run. This question must be last, not first, because as Peter Drucker points out, you will almost always have to compromise something—and you can never know what the right compromises are unless you first know the ideal state you are aiming toward.

Don’t limit yourself right out of the gate. Compromises will have to be made, but unless you start out with the ideal outcome, you will always make the wrong ones.

4. Aim high and lead.

Don’t simply jump on the bandwagon, and don’t be drug down by people with a militant commitment to mediocrity. Set large goals and make big plans.

5. Keep your goals aligned with your mission and values.

This is what discipline is. Discipline is not necessarily doing less, but making sure that all that you do is in line with your mission and values—especially for organizations.

In fact, many organizations that look disciplined because they seem to be very focused are actually very undisciplined, because their focus is not being determined by their mission and values. Don’t settle for mere appearances of discipline by simply doing less. Be truly disciplined by focusing on the things that embody and reflect your mission and values.

6. Re-consider all of your goals each time you accomplish a goal.

After accomplishing a goal, if you simply do what’s next on your list, you run the risk of being held captive to the priorities of yesterday. Therefore, always reconsider your priorities before setting a new goal, rather than simply doing what’s next on the list.

7. Pursue justice and mercy in your goals.

Goals have a reputation of being about how we can make our own lives better. But that is not the life of greatest meaning and significance. The life of greatest meaning is when we use all that we have to take initiative for the good of others—even to the point of making plans for their welfare.

Setting goals for using any influence we have to go the extra mile and bring benefit to those in need is a fantastic way to do this—and a great privilege. It helps us ensure that we are setting goals that really count and will really be meaningful in the end.


Confidence or Arrogance? What's The Difference?


Confidence or Arrogance -- 

How can you determine the difference?

Throughout my 54 years as a Christian, I have hit upon some ideas that beg for an answer to satisfy my curious and processing mind. Sometimes I get some resolution…sometimes not. When I hit on a thought or make an observation, my mind and heart go into overdrive as I study, think, pray and ask for wisdom.

Here are three of the questions and puzzles I have wrestled with through the years.

  1. How can we have a free will and God be sovereignly in control at the same time?
  2. Why is it that so many Christians don’t seem to grow, mature and become transformed even though they are sitting under some of the best preachers and teachers in the world
  3. What role does obedience play in the Christian life? If everything is of grace in salvation and sanctification and has nothing to do with human effort or what I may bring to the table,  where does obedience fit in?

Last week I had a meal with a very successful young businessman. Even though he is in his early 30s, he has already achieved more than most do in a lifetime of work. He is very confident in who he is. He has an incredible work ethic and possesses a very winsome personality. He is certainly heading toward being the CEO of something before he is 40. I told him to be very careful of becoming proud/arrogant due to how fast he is rising and how gifted he is. He said he would give that some very concentrated thought and prayer.

As we were eating I asked him several questions:

  1. What is the difference between being confidence and being arrogant?
  2. How might confidence morph into arrogance?
  3. What is the difference between God-confidence and self-Confidence?

It says in 1 Peter 5:5,6 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (ESV).

No thinking Christian wants to be opposed by God, and yet this verse says God opposes the proud.

I remember many years ago, listening to a very well known Christian leader whom I felt exhibited amazing confidence in his message, his gifting and his work. Someone else listening to the same man called him arrogant. That experience was the first time I began to wrestle with the difference between confidence and arrogance.

Admittedly and intentionally I have not provided answers to these important questions.

How about you, the reader of this post, using the comment section below, providing some answers to the three questions above?  Let’s get a good dialogue going on a very important topic.



One of the great Leadership Corruptors

As you look around the leadership landscape today (in the world of business, sports, government and in the church) you see examples everywhere of the abuse of power, position and authority.

In Mark 10:42,43 Jesus pointedly reminded his disciples that it  should "not be so among you." In spite of Jesus clear warning, we see ample evidence of it in his church. All leaders need to revisit Jesus' words "It shall not be so among you." (ESV)

Orginally posted by Brad Lomeick

You can check out his website by click here. 

POWER. One of the great corruptors of leaders.

We all deny it in public, but struggle with its pull over us in private.

If you recall, it was one of the temptations of Jesus while in the desert for 40 days. Actually the 3rd temptation he faced.

“I will give you all the kingdoms of this world in their splendor,” the demon said to Jesus (Matthew 4:9).

Power is intoxicating. Throughout history, leaders have given in to the temptation of power- whether political, military, economic, or even moral and spiritual power- even though many continued to speak and lead and influence in the name of Jesus.

But when looking at Jesus, we see a different example. Jesus did not cling to power, but instead emptied himself and became as we are.

Henri Nouwen writes so eloquently in his classic leadership book In the Name of Jesus that the reason power is such a strong corruptor is “it seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.” BAM.

We are constantly confronted with the temptation to replace love with power. Ruling over vs. leading forward. Control vs. love.

Leaders are naturally given power when they are in charge of something. It comes with the territory in leadership. So it’s a given that with leadership and responsibility, you are given the power to influence.

The question is “What do you do with it?” Do you leverage it for your own gain, or steward it for the benefit of others?


Three Kinds Of Weak Vision That Entice Leaders


Nothing could be more critical to a church or organization than a vibrant, compelling and well-articulated vision. Having a healthy culture through which that vision will be born and cast is also paramount.

Someone has humorously said that where there is no vision the people will find another parish which is a spin-off of Proverb 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (KJV).

People want a leader with vision. People want a leader who can lead them to a better future. But, there can be wrong visions, wrong timing or the wrong people to whom the leader is trying to cast the vision.

Following are some excellent observations on “Weak” visions (which also poses a problem for visionaries) by Will Mancini.


Originally posted by Will Mancini

Three Kinds of Weak Vision That Entice Church Leaders

Warning: This post will challenge some of your assumptions about vision in the church.

Across the North American church landscape this year, many pastors will articulate a vision and compel people toward a preferred future that is weak. Its very nature will be lacking in biblically rugged, God-saturated, deeply compelling content. Note that I said the vision will be weak; not bad and not wrong. What do I mean by this comment? The three kinds of weak vision I want to clarify are lacking potency because they are more of a means to an end that we often realize. Therefore they are missing the end-game, the bigger deal, the ultimate move. “Means” is not the meat of vision casting. For example, if General Electric wants to “Bring Good Things to Life,” they don’t show you the blueprint of the dishwasher.

Now a pastor may quickly assent to the fact that that the three kinds of vision are indeed means to a greater end. But afterwards he will practically and experientially guide his people with a lower aim. I have seen it hundreds of times. So what are the three kinds of weak vision?

A building is a weak vision.

 We intuitively get this. We know the building is a “tool” to accomplish the “bigger mission.” Yet, in the daily grind of raising money in our capital campaigns, its easy to appeal only to the consumeristic impulse of the congregation. A building is a means to something.

Going multisite is a weak vision.

The move to multisite is the most relevant kind of weak vision today. The number of multisite churches is accelerating, and the average size of a multisite church is decreasing. It is safe to say that multisite is the new normal. And for good reasons. But ask a pastor about the vision driving the multisite, and you might be surprised how little they have to say. Multisite is a means to something.

More people in worship is a weak vision.

The third one is connected to the first two. Indeed you may think it is the substance of the first two. We are building a building to what end? More people of course! We are going multi-site to what end? More people of course. Now don’t get me wrong. I think every church should be reaching more people and multiplying disciples. And more people, more building and more campuses are all important features of the vision. But by themselves they are weak. More people is a means to something.

Allow me to illustrate a strong vision with my home church, Clear Creek Community Church in Houston. Our vision is what I call a “gospel saturation” vision. We have adopted a 500,000 population area that we refer to as the “4B” area. (From the beltway to the beach; from Brazoria county to the bay.)

One of two people in this area are “nones;” that is they have no faith affiliation whatsoever. In the next 15 years, our vision is for each of the these 500,000 people to be one degree away, relationally speaking, from an invitation into a gospel-centered, missional community. With this summarized substance of the vision, we can now see how buildings, multisite campuses and more people are means to a full picture, high-definition vision.  We see the need for ten campuses and know that three campuses will anchor the ten with more significant buildings. But those pieces aren’t the purpose themselves. Why is it critical important to show buildings, multi-site and more people as means and not ends?

First, focusing on means unintentionally amplifies the self-promoting motives of church leadership. An ends-based vision, in contrast, connects the idea of “bigger” to the broader redemptive motives of God.

Second, highlighting the means only incurs emotional connection indirectly through the personal contact to and relationship with a church leader. In other words, I don’t get excited about a mean-based vision unless I am friends with he pastor who is casting it. Ends-based vision, on the other hand, accelerates emotional connection directly with the picture of the future, not the person talking about it.

Third, means-based vision is ultimately a church-centric idea. Therefore people let the “pastor and staff” be the owners of it. Ends-based vision, however, distributes the accomplishment of the vision to each one, every day in the congregation. The real vision must be a life-centric idea, not a church-centric one.

I know all this talk of “means” and “ends” sounds a little nerdy. (The engineer in me!) But I hope it connects you back to the simple leadership model of Jesus.

Want to read more about strong vision: Check out “The Church List for the Rest of Us.” It’s called the Unique 19 and it is 19 amazing stories of vision that are not based on church size.

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of and the author of Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision and Create Movement.

See more articles by Will Mancini



What’s on your report card?

I’m sure we all remember (some with happy thoughts and some with not so happy thoughts) our school years when we still lived at home and had a mom and/or a dad who wanted to see our report cards.

When things were looking good we were more than delighted to show off our good grades, and when things were not looking as good we had to think of ways to not show them our report cards.  Like me, it has probably been a while since you had to reveal what was on a report card to your parent(s).

As leaders, if the Lord were assigning you grades on various subjects, how would you fare?  How about you giving yourself grades on your own leadership report card? 

Here are the leadership subjects to grade yourself on.

Now, I know you probably have never taken this many courses before at one time, but I wanted to include lots of subjects for you to give yourself a grade on. I don’t want to explain each item, trusting you will know what is meant by each of your “subjects.”

Step 1 is to grade yourself on each subject.  It’s okay to give yourself a B+ or B- (for example) if you’re not a solid B.

If you would, please take step 2, which is to have your current team grade you on these ten areas and tell you how they view your leadership.

Admittedly, this may be painful and a bit embarrassing; but if you are a life-long learner and are truly teachable and want to grow, this could be a very helpful and healthy exercise for you.

Step 3 would be to pick one area for improvement and develop your own “Personal Growth Plan.”

So, have at it for the glory of God.