Baptist churches are notorious for setting goals. I guess all non-profit organizations are these days.
I specifically remember as a little girl watching the progress of our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal. The Women on Mission organization would come up with some tangible and up-front way for the church to see our monetary goal for missions giving during that Christmas season. Then they would set up either a thermometer or a map with little Christmas lights plugged in to where we had missionaries around the world and we'd watch the progress as the mercury went up or the lights came on.
I never really knew where the goal amount came from, but I felt compelled, as did many others in our church, to meet that goal. Most years we did, a few we probably didn't.
When I married a pastor (22 years ago tomorrow) I became a little more intimately acquainted with the process of setting these missions offerings goals. I came to realize they were usually based on a simple formula:
The $ amount that came in last year
a little more for good faith
This year's goal
Some years, depending on the economy or other expenses, the formula might look more like this:
The $ amount that came in last year
the additional $ amount we would have brought in
if we didn't have to put on a new roof
a fair $ amount for the bad economy
a fair $ amount for the loss of key givers
a little bit more because we ought to do better every year
a little bit more because it is missions after all!
This year's goal
I'm sure some prayer went into the setting of these goals as well, but I also know it is human nature to default to formulas when we don't get a firm and audible answer from above.
But a few years ago something caused my husband and the rest of our church staff to change this age old custom a bit. They prayed about it and I suppose they didn't get a $ amount or they didn't come to an agreement about one, so they adopted a different goal.
That was the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering Goal. It was advertised and posted so everyone could see it just as though it were a dollar amount. But it was explained to everyone that instead of setting a dollar amount goal we were simply expecting everyone, absolutely everyone, to give exactly what God would have them give. If everyone, 100% of the church, were obedient to His prodding then we would have reached our goal.
Guess what? We exceeded any previous giving records. And the next year, with the same goal, we exceeded it again. And the next and the next.
Goes to show you that 100% obedience yields greater dividends than any formula for success that we might come up with.
This year, as we enter a new decade, that is my newly adapted goal as well. 100% obedience. I've set tangible, manageable, formulaic goals in the past. Sometimes I achieved them; sometimes I didn't. But even if I did, the question remains: Could God have done more if I'd simply given 100% obedience instead of trying to reach some Kay-made goal?
Scriptures like the following make me think God is not so much into reaching goals as He is into impressing the socks off of me by going beyond anything I could imagine:
"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Looking upon them, Jesus said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."
Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.
1 Corinthians 2:9b
Don't you agree with me that God does not so much lead us to set manageable, formula-based goals that we can conceive with our limited minds? Don't you concur that He obviously has something much bigger in mind for us than we can ever wrap our own minds around?
And so this year, besides going the extra mile as I said in yesterday's post
, my goal is simply 100% obedience to whatever my God tells me to do. And I'm expecting big results with that goal. I'm expecting to exceed my own wildest dreams - for my family, my ministry, my physical fitness, my spiritual growth, you name it.
The experts I heard on Good Morning America this morning would say my goal is unattainable, unmeasurable, and faulty. Maybe so in human terms, but I'm not living on human terms. 1 Corinthians 2:14 explains that the experts aren't going to understand my spiritual thinking and I don't need to give their assessment a second thought.
As far as trying to measure my success, I won't need a large thermometer or a global map with Christmas lights to chart my progress. God will confirm in my spirit when I'm obeying and He'll convict the living daylight out of me when I'm not.
And, finally, as far as my goal being attainable, quite honestly it isn't if I'm banking on my ability and fortitude alone. But I'm not. Here's my strategy:
"Thou didst make me bold with strength in my soul...
"The Lord will accomplish what concerns me."
Psalm 138:3b & 8a
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
I'd love to hear some of your goals for 2010. And you can hop on over to in(courage)
to see how others are dreaming big for the new year.