Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Too High? Too Low? Just Right?

My wife is a first-born.  She is goal-driven.  If we’re scheduled to arrive somewhere at 7:30 and we arrive at 7:30, we are “almost late.”  I have a different label for that event.  I call it “on time.”  But, I’m a middle child…an appeaser.  For the goal-driven, being on time for a 7:30 event means arriving at 7:20.  For the appeaser the goal becomes whatever the rest of the family seems to want.

Tonight I’m delivering an update on the goals our church leadership team adopted for 2011.  So it is with mixed feelings that I will report that of the 26 goals established for the year, 19 have been or are being accomplished, 3 have yet to happen, 3 will not happen, and 1 has been discontinued as a goal.

The perfectionist in me wants all 26 to be done already.

The pessimist in me says, “I can’t believe we even got to 19!

The pragmatist in me says, “The denomination already has a goal for the church: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  Why do we need more?”

The exhaustion in me says, “19 out of 26 is a passing grade…enough already.”

The appeaser in me still has some questions.  Were these goals too high?  What happens to our self-image if we keep establishing goals too high for us to attain?  Or, were these goals too low?  Did we really just establish a series of goals each one of which could be attained without much of a stretch on our part?  Or, were they just right?  The year is 2/3 over and we are 2/3 of the way through our goals!

This is a difficult time in which to be a leader – clergy or lay – in a mainline denomination.  We look to the methods of our glory years in the 1950’s and 1960’s and are tempted to re-establish the same goals and methods of that time…all the while knowing that at some point (I believe it was 1984 if for no other reason than the literary irony) those goals/methods/mindsets became instruments of decline.  Worse, our initial reaction to the signs of impending doom were to do the same old things only with much more intensity and sincerity.  That is much like realizing you are driving east instead of west on the interstate and solving the issue by flooring it without first turning around. 

I like goals in general.  They are benchmarks providing an organization a sense of both accomplishment and accountability.  But, they are also always open to interpretation by each person within the organization.  Were we “on time” or “almost late?”

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