If every Senior Pastor reading this would…
- Seek God’s face for next year’s ministry
- Write down what they believe God wants them to do
- Translate those dreams into SMART goals
- Turn those annual goals into daily prayer affirmations
- And storm the throne room of God every day until they become a reality
…the impact for the Kingdom of God would be staggering.
I want to make you a promise.
If you’ve been a reader of mine for any length of time, you know that I rarely make promises. When I do, it stems from something I have been doing for a long, long time, have seen consistent results in my own life, have led the people I coach to experience the same results, and that tactic has become part of my ministry DNA.
So here it is…
I promise you that if you do what I’m about to tell you – exactly as I tell you to do it – you will look back upon next year as the most impactful 365 days you have ever spent on this earth. Period.
1. Get Out Of The Office And Dream
Whenever I force those I coach to get out of the weeds and walk with me through the dreams God has put on their heart for next year, the first thing I notice is God hasn’t put any dreams on their heart. It’s like they just stopped dreaming. Or worse, if they have dreams, they have no conceivable plan for making them happen anytime soon.
As the point leader, you must routinely take off the “execution mode” hat, leave the daily grind, put on your “dreamer” hat, and hightail it to Mt. Sinai to meet with God. Then, just as important, you must come back with a plan written on stone, ready to execute with a vengeance.
I completely understand that it feels like you simply don’t have the time to do this, but you do. And you must.
As my leadership mentor, Warren Bennis reminds us,
“I really believe that the best leaders I’ve met and known over the years have been reflective practitioners, that they both think and act.” (Reinventing Leadership, p. 27).
Elsewhere, Bennis warns,
“It’s very clear to me that failing organizations almost always fail because they’re over managed and they’re under led.” (Reinventing Leadership, p. 7)
So, get out of manager mode, getaway to a monastery or a state park this week, and pray two bold leader prayers:
- “God, if I stopped self-sabotaging my ministry and lived out the dream you have for my life and the congregation I’m privileged to serve, what would I/we STOP doing and what would I/we START doing?”
- “God, what are the four things I/we could do in the next 90 days that would make a 50% difference?”
Ask those questions, then start writing.
You will know you have God’s dreams in hand when you are ready to come back and work so hard that, in the words of Bennis, your “…lawn and goldfish have died of neglect.”
2. Narrow Down Your List To 4 Personal and 4 Congregational Annual Goals
Out of all the things you wrote down, the next step is to determine which ones are what Tim Ferriss calls the “lead dominoes.” These are the specific actions, in each area of your life, if executed, that will cause a chain reaction in other areas.
For instance, for many Senior Pastors “losing weight” will undoubtedly be on their list.
Losing weight is a “lead domino” because if you tackle that, a chain reaction will have taken place. You will have changed your eating. You will have worked out 5+ times a week. You will have energy as a result. You will sleep better. Sex will be better. You’ll feel better. You’ll care about your clothes and how you look. It will affect how your family eats. You’ll save money by not eating out. Etc…
Examples of “lead domino” PERSONAL goals I’ve created in the past are…
- Go on one “date” with each of my daughters once a month
- Pay off all my consumer debt
- Write a book
- Get up at 5:01 a.m. every day
- Lead ten men to Christ
- Take my wife on a trip to Europe for our 25th anniversary
- Lose 30 pounds
Examples of “lead domino” CHURCH goals I’ve created in the past are…
- Baptize 50 people
- Break through the 400 barrier
- Sponsor our 200th child in Kenya
- Transition our church plant from an outside Management Team to an internal Elder Team
- Hire a Group’s Pastor
- Buy land
3. Turn Your Annual Goals Into Prayer Affirmations
Now, this is going to sound “out there” for some of you, but trust me on this.
I want you to turn those annual goals into a list of daily “prayer affirmations” that you will go to the throne room of God every day and beg God to see fulfilled.
For instance, here’s what such a list might look like for a Senior Pastor of a church of 275 in Illinois:
With God’s strength and for His glory…
- I will weigh 215 pounds.
- I will pay off all my credit card debt and save $10,000 in my 403(b).
- I will take my wife on a date every other week.
- I will read one book a week.
With God’s strength and for His glory…
- I will lead Grace Church to 375 in attendance.
- I will lead Grace Church to baptize 50 people.
- I will lead Grace Church to hire a full-time Children’s Pastor.
- I will lead Grace Church to make a by-law change to a policy-governance model of oversight.
Your list will no doubt be different.
And FYI – make sure each annual goal has been turned into the positive form (ex. “I will weigh 215 pounds” vs. “I will lose 37 pounds”).
4. Place These Prayer Affirmations EVERYWHERE And Pray Them Continually
I have taken my daily prayer affirmations and placed them into my iPhone Reminders app, so the first thing I see when I grab my phone and go to the restroom in the morning are my prayer affirmations.
You might think I’m nuts if you were standing there with me. I pull my phone out and sometimes I’ll quietly pray through them 3-4 times. Other times I’m shouting to God over and over again: “With YOUR strength and for YOUR glory I will…”
I have these prayers saved as the desktop image on my MacBook Pro laptop, and on my iMac desktop, and on my iPad.
You might want to attach them to your bathroom mirror, so they’re the first thing you see in the morning.
Maybe you could tape them on the back of your office door. You could have them texted or emailed to you daily.
The key is to put them EVERYWHERE.
So why do I personally do this?
I do this because I believe the most important thing I can do as a leader is figure out what God wants us to do NEXT and pick up my cross and make it happen.
I also do this because picking up my cross, for me, means doing whatever it takes to change my behavior.
If I don’t keep God’s MOST IMPORTANT goals for the church and me in front of me at all times, I’ll stray. I just don’t have enough willpower to stay focused without daily reminders.
Three months will pass, and I will have done a whole bunch of things, but most will have had virtually no bearing on the dreams God has for me and the church I serve.
The enemy will have seduced me into believing that the good feeling I get when I get to inbox zero is an acceptable substitute for risking everything I have for the kingdom.
Most important, I do this because I believe heaven and hell hang in the balance.
And while going on a date with my daughters twice a month or leading ten men to Christ may not sound like much, especially in celebrity church world, these are the dreams God has for MY life.
And I’m going to do everything I possibly can to stay focused and passionate, so I can accomplish them.
With HIS strength.
And for HIS glory.