When I was in college serving on our BCM Leadership Team, I was introduced to BHAGs (Big Hair Audacious Goals). We were a group of about 40 who were gathering to pray, plan, and dream about engaging and reaching a campus of almost 20,000 students. We knew we would have to be Big and Hairy to accomplish that. Anything else would fall short of what we believed God was calling us to do. It was really cool to watch that year as we saw record numbers of freshmen involved, students engaging in almost every aspect of campus life, targeted outreach and engagement for commuter students, and countless leaders serving in churches now being developed.
Ministry's unique difficulties and challenges require a leader to have BHAGs. Here's 3 reasons why:
1. Leaders without dreams are maintainers - The biggest difference between leaders and managers/maintainers is that a leader sets forth a dream for what can be accomplished, while a manager/maintainer just does what's before them. Sleep research is undeniable that without dreams we cannot function, dreams give us our motivation and creativity. Without dreaming, a leader becomes nothing more than a maintainer of what's already there. They may do some good things, but they'll never change the world like Steve Jobs once asked John Sculley.
2. God-sized goals require God-sized faith - William Carey, who many consider to be the father of modern missions, once said "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." Engaging the nations with the Gospel for Carey was something that only God could do, so he set a God-sized goal. Too often we make our goals small enough that they're easy to reach, and don't require us to stretch our faith. What happens when leaders are regularly setting BHAGs is they're attempting things that only God can do, and they're growing in their faith as they learn to depend on Him to accomplish those goals. I remember my pastor in seminary setting a God-sized goal of seeing people almost weekly saved/baptized. As that God-sized goal matured, it turned into Upward Basketball & Soccer, where every week hundreds of our unchurched and lost neighbors were on our property. We had a 70 year old grandpa get saved because of that, and I remember our pastor's reaction: "Wow."
3. BHAGs foster a culture of vision - This past year we took our first family vacation to St. Louis, about a 5 hour drive. Which for a preschooler = Eternity! How did we survive (besides singalong CDs)? We kept the vision in front of him of what we'd get to do in the Gateway City. Leaders have to be visionaries, and BHAGs develop a culture where vision is not only accepted but championed. Vision is the fuel that pushes through the difficult days. Vision is what kept Moses pointing to the Promised Land, Nehemiah to the completed wall, Paul to the Gospel proclaimed throughout the world, and for John to say to a persecuted church that in the end Jesus wins. If we fail to regularly set BHAGs as leaders, we're setting our people up to just get by. BHAGs give something to aim for, something greater than ourselves.
Later this week I'll bring all you dreamers back to reality with SMART goals, and also how to balance these two critically important leadership tasks.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.