Planning to Grow as a Leader

getting a map pointing to a worthy destination

A friend asked if I’d come to his congregation to conduct a workshop on setting goals for the church. I replied I’d rather conduct a workshop on setting individual goals. Unless leaders have developed and use a plan to grow individually, they probably won’t lead the church in developing a plan to grow. How can I encourage and lead others to do something I don’t believe enough to practice?

Since 1971, I’ve found it helpful to consider how I’d like to grow (improve, develop): spiritually, in my family, mentally, physically, and financially. I usually do this the beginning of each year, although any time will work. I write those objectives and record each month how I’m progressing.

I find three principles in Philippians 3:13, 14 in setting specific objectives to help me move toward my main purpose in life.

  1. I don’t have it made yet. Paul was big enough to see how little he was. Jesus said the poor in spirit would gain the kingdom of heaven. Honesty about my need for improvement is essential in any plan for growth in individuals or congregations.
  2. I mustn’t groan over past mistakes or gloat over past accomplishments. Some things need to be forgotten. Past sins, mistakes, and failures shouldn’t hold me back but give me wisdom. Past successes are excellent for growing confidence in the Lord and my opportunity to receive His help to improve. They shouldn’t define who I am where I’m always looking back to when I was president of my senior class or when I reached some other plateau. When looking back is my emphasis, my life is in decline, not growth.
  3. I set short-range objectives as stepping stones to the main goal. 

Short-range objectives should be:

  • Specific and measurable. “I need to study the Bible more” isn’t a measurable objective. How will you know if you’ve reached that? “I’ll read a chapter a day” or “I’ll read the Bible this year” is measurable. I’ll know at the end of the year how I did. “I need to loose some weight” isn’t a measurable objective. “I’ll lose one pound a week for three months” is specific and measurable. My experience was the first six months to a year I found out where I was more than planning where I was going.
[tweetthis]The best map in the world is useless if you don’t know where you are.[/tweetthis]
  • Related to a definite time. ASAP is not a definite time. Six months from today, July 23rd, and December 31 can be located on the calendar.
  • Challenging. My growth objectives should stretch me which will bring some pain and discomfort. I’ve never run a marathon without getting sore muscles. But, my objectives shouldn’t be so far out of sight to be discouraging.
  • Mine. Other people can give me an assignment. They cannot set a goal for me. If we’re leading the church to set goals, the members should have a voice in what the goals will be. I have found members will often challenge themselves more than the leaders.

Gail and I found it helpful to discuss our objectives because they often involve our direction as a family. We can help and encourage each other.

When our children were at home, we often went away for a few days between Christmas and January 1 for Family Operation Forward. Gail took poster board and magazines so Jerrie Wayne and Christi could make a collage and display in their room what they wanted to accomplish the coming year. It was on some of those trips we made plans for the work we’re doing now.

For written objectives to be effective, there must be accountability. I like to see progress often. I’ve designed a spreadsheet where I record progress each month. This spreadsheet isn’t for everyone. It’s mine. You might change it to record what you want to do, how you want to grow this year. Here is my sample: 2016 Goal Spreadsheet . If you have questions about any of this, feel free to contact me: jerrie@barberclippings.com . We can email or set up a phone appointment.

Leaders who are growing can encourage others to grow. [tweetthis]Shepherds who are progressively following the Chief Shepherd can lead sheep to greener pastures.[/tweetthis]

What has helped you grow in different aspects of your life?
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9 thoughts on “Planning to Grow as a Leader

  1. I have assigned an area of my life to each day of the week to review briefly, make a note and pray about, keeping Christ at the center. Faith, Fitness, For-a-Living, Family, Fellowship, Finances, Free-Time.

    • Charlie, Good process. This keeps you current on different areas of your life and your progress in the right direction. Thank you for sharing this practical application of this principle.

  2. Jerrie,
    Your message to me and other elders is so true, and you are doing a great service with your posts. Most of the qualifications to be an elder are about how effective I can lead me, as compared to how effective I can lead others. Elders – when we work on us there is a multiplier effect on the congregation that is truly amazing.

    • Doug, This makes it easy and hard for me to be this kind of leader. Easy — because I don’t have to make anyone else do anything. Hard — because I have difficulty getting me to do what I need to do. I think Hebrews 13:7 is not only a command but also an observation of the way leadership works: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (ESV).

  3. As always, good stuff. My guys are reading you regularly, I hear you quoted. What is it they say ….. “if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”. Most of us can prove that somewhere in our life. Thanks for sharing.