Goal Setting and Leadership

goal settingIn World War II, Winston Churchill referred to the actions of the Russian leadership when he said, “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside and enigma.” For many that describes how they feel about the leadership of the church today. Pastors, lay leaders, and parishioners struggle with the complexities and tensions of leading the church, both organizationally and spiritually, while unbelieving skeptics observe from afar. Goal setting can change that.

Ironically, perhaps one of the greatest challenges leaders face today is wading through the smorgasbord of information on leadership that is available at their fingertips. There are nearly 17,000 books on leadership in the market today all looking to crack the “leadership code.” In addition, churches and pastors spend millions of dollars each year on seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, and on continuing education to become more effective leaders.

This dizzying maze can be quite a challenge for a pastor to navigate, and of itself creates a sense of overload and confusion. For example, Peter Drucker states, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” James Collins argues that great leaders do not solely focus on achieving their goals but upon building great organizations. Henry Blackaby adds that the role of a spiritual leader is “to take their people from where they are to where God wants them to be.”

Goals and Direction

While each of these authors have something powerful to say about leadership, it is clear that the pastor or Christian leader must first determine the direction in which God wants to lead both the leader and His people. This direction, once understood, can then be reflected in the life of a leader through goal setting, creating action steps, and working through a timely follow up plan.

Within the last ten years there’s been a popular strategy among pastors and churches to set goals (BHAGS-Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals), thanks to the influences of leadership gurus like Jim Collins. While some have gone overboard with the concept, others still avoid goal setting like the plague.

coaching_for_performanceWe’ve all discovered at some point that goal setting and accomplishment alone will not necessarily make a more effective leader and a healthier church. The challenge is to identify the specific area of growth being revealed by God, create a plan to address it, and build a support system to promote progress.

It’s no secret that God initiates growth in the lives of leaders to bring about both personal and corporate growth. This Growth Agenda Tool is designed to help you identify your personal growth objectives.

Ron Marsh is a certified life coach who helps others live in the center of the purpose and passion. Meet Ron at or