If you lead a team, you don’t serve the team or the individuals well if you offer them easy or boring goals. Even worse if you offer them no goals at all. If you fail to rally them around a God-inspired, overarching vision, you fail to lead them well. Here are three problems with small goals:
Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Boredom is the root of all evil.” Of course, Kierkegaard would say that, being credited as the world’s first existentialist philosopher, but his statement speaks to the danger of boredom. A team without something big to run after is a team that is far less likely to attack the day with intensity and passion. They will be tempted to just merely exist, to go through the motions, to play it safe and be passive.
Kierkegaard also stated, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” There is something special about a team of people consumed with one direction. When the goal is clear, focus and passion are elevated.
I know there must be caution here as many of us driven-by-achievement types can allow goals to consume us in an unhealthy manner. Without a heart that finds ultimate satisfaction in Christ, the pressure of a big goal can be consuming, but so can boredom. If a goal that I believe in consumes me in an unhealthy manner, it is likely myself and not the goal that is unhealthy.
If a team does not have a big goal to run after together, they aren’t really much of a team. Staff meetings are mere reports on how each individual is executing his or her area, basic and polite FYIs, and surface conversations. And when the meetings are over, each team member returns to his turf to execute his or her own agenda.
A big vision can unite and help debilitate discord on a team. When a team has a goal that they all believe in deeply — not merely nodding in a passive-aggressive “I know I must sign off on this” sort of way but really owning the goal — the interactions become intense conversations about what must happen. The team sharpens one another, pulls for one another, and runs together to accomplish the mission.
3. Missed Opportunity
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 do nothing to help put a team in a posture of deeper dependence on Him.
A God-sized goal is an opportunity for the team to see the Lord do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. It is an opportunity to watch the Lord do something bigger than the team could do in human strength, something that can only be attributed to Him. It is an opportunity for the faith of the team to be strengthened and stretched.
In 2004, several pastors and I from the church we were serving at the time gathered for a few days to pray and plan for the future. We wrote down some goals that seemed insane at the time, goals we were a bit sheepish about sharing because they seemed so far out there. But we went with it. We wrote down what we believed the Lord wanted us to run after together.
Fast-forward five years. One day in a meeting with those same pastors, I handed out the Word doc we had drafted. We sat in a holy silence. It was a moment I will never forget. The Lord had done more than we had asked or imagined. We had not been perfect. We had made many mistakes, but the Lord was faithful. Even now I look back at those moments and remember His faithfulness.
Small goals are boring. They fail to rally a team. And they fail to nudge a team toward a deeper dependence on the Lord. If you are a leader, don’t lead your team with a small vision. Instead, aim high and trust the Lord to accomplish big things through you all.
Eric Geiger serves as one of the vice presidents at Lifeway Christian Resources, leading the Church Resources Division. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church.