There is just something about Olympians and World-class athletes that draws me to them. Their dedication, their passion, their willingness to work hard, and their singular focus. I don’t regularly watch sports, but there a few times when I can’t stay away – the Pan Am games, the Olympics, and World Junior Hockey for instance.
I was especially thrilled to see how our track and field athletes did at the recent Pan Am games. I grew up a little in that world, so it got me thinking about Canada’s progression in that sport, and how we’ve gotten better. It got me thinking about the significant difference it can make when we get intentionally focused on getting better in an area. Imagine what it would mean if we poured just as much energy and thought into joining God’s activity in the world.

The biggest thing I admire about these athletes is their ability to set a goal, often years or even a decade in advance, then go after it with all they’ve got. They willingly sacrifice other things to pursue this goal. We could learn a lot from that about being willing to follow our King.

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

I’m reminded of the fact that we often overestimate how much we can get down in the short-term and underestimate how much we can get done in the long-term.

More dreams die from fear than from failure.

We keep our dreams hidden. We don’t voice them. We don’t write them down. Or we float them out there, but then get lost in other things and don’t know how to intentional start working towards them day by day, week by week, month by month.

I invite you to give your dreams voice! Set down your goals and let them me know. Make a plan to accomplish them.

Growing up in track world, we always set goals. We wouldn’t think of going into a new season or year without setting short-term and long-term goals.  We knew where we wanted to be by the end of the season and the end of the year. We knew the hard work it would take week by week, day by day to get there, but we had a goal worth working towards.

I discovered something a little weird when I stepped into church world. It was like some seemed to think it was too “worldly” or too ambitious to be setting goal and be clear on your goals. Where did this come from? This does not make sense to me. Yes, we need to absolutely invite God into our goal setting for our lives, ministries and leadership. Our goals are not for our own selfish reasons, but to join God in what He’s doing in the world, to glorify Him. But, leader, please set goals. It is not more spiritual to fly by the seat of your pants. This mission God has entrusted to us is too important. God is involved in helping you set the right goals. God does have the propagative to change your course and change your goals as you go. Setting goals helps you and I be like the Olympian. It helps us and others we lead know what we’re aiming for and motivates us all towards the same cause. It brings clarity and focus, as we scatter seeds for the Kingdom. Goals are essential to achieving dreams.

Here’s some questions to ask and one method that I find helps me clarify goals:

  1. Where does God want the ministry and those you lead to be in 5 years? (Or if that is too far ahead for your context, try it using 1 year from now)
  2. Why? Why is this important to you and the team? I find this motivation question really helps me when the going gets tough, I can go back to it and say, I know God led us to this goal and I know it is worth it! I like to write down the Scriptures God highlighted to support this goal.
  3. How are we going to get there? What will it mean we have to do each day, each week, each month, each year? Start with your big long term goal, where you want to be 5 years from now, and work backwards add the things that will get you there. Where do we want people to be after this sermon series? In 12 weeks? In 1 year? What do we need to pray specifically for, for this goal to be achieved? What support and resources do we need?

Focus on what is in your control. Do not focus what is not in your control. There is a lot in our control. It also takes faith, to trust the God who laid this on your heart is the God who will accomplish it, as you join Him in the daily work and daily trust.

Let me simplify it even more….

Picture a triangle, where your long-term goal is at the top….


Here’s an example. In youth ministry I had a long-term goal of developing leaders from within the youth ministry, from the students themselves. So here’s what the triangle would look like….


You’ll notice a few things…

Everything in the triangle supports the top, long-term goal. They’ve got to be clearly connected and feed into each other. Start at the top and work backwards.

The base is wider than the top because it is actually the things at the bottom that take more of our time, energy and focus.

Invite God to be at the very centre of this.

Start with just making one triangle. Then I’d say have one triangle for each major area you lead.

Ask God, with your team, where He want to take you – your staff, your team, your camp, your youth group, your church. God has big dreams for His Church! God has big goals for His Church! As we say, “God, I’m willing to do what it takes to get there”, God will accomplish more than we could imagine through us. God doesn’t underestimate where we can be in 5 years. Don’t let your dreams die in fear. Don’t let your dreams die by lack of focus. Invite God to bring His dreams to life as you set your sights on Olympic size dreams for the Kingdom.

-Renée @r_embree