You're there right now aren't you? You've awoken from your turkey coma and realized that your pants don't fit as nicely anymore. You've been binge-watching Friends expecting it to go off Netflix so you've comforted yourself with ice cream. You look outside and see snow & ice and decide tomorrow will be a better day to run. The scale shows numbers you've never seen before.
When anyone sets out on a diet, they're not aware of the fact that many times they're setting themselves up for failure. How? The goal is too ambitious. I'm not saying ambition is bad, but sometimes we set the bar so high that we can't get over it no matter how hard we try. So after a few weeks without the Biggest Loser results (friendly reminder they have professional nutritionists, personal trainers, and they're on a closed set instead of snacking at work), we get frustrated and give up.
Pastors, chances are you've done the same thing when you lay out goals. You want to change the world, you want to double attendance in six months, you want to see a million dollars given for a capital campaign or you want every single person in your community's door knocked on.
And after 3 months, you give up.
I'm all for dreaming up BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), they keep a vision in front of us of what ministry could be like if we were able to reach it. But BHAGs do not a longitudinal ministry make. We should aim high, always. But like Jesus said, we also must count the cost.
You can keep up with your progress - Slow and steady progress is hard to see week to week, it's hard to see month to month even. But over time it becomes visible. That's why you keep up with your weight loss on a diet. A pound a week becomes 20 after a few months. That's pretty cool! So with your ministry, write down, record, take pictures of what you're trying to accomplish. I had no idea at our church what was happening with our children's ministry until a picture popped up on my social media. It was cool seeing what had happened in a year.
Celebrate milestones - One friend of mine when he goes on a diet celebrated every 10 pounds lost with a steak dinner. Sure it pushes the scale up a bit, but hey you hit a milestone! Pastors, celebrate your milestones. You launch a new small group, pray over the leader and make a big deal about it! An outreach event leads to a baptism, cheer it on! An old debt is paid off, burn that note and have a party, er, fellowship!
Get buy in from other leaders - It's really hard to go on a diet plan when your spouse isn't. The temptation to eat cookies instead of carrot sticks gets stronger. As ministry leaders, we have to get buy in from others in leadership positions. It'll never work without, as Kotter calls it, a guiding coalition. Those leaders become allies, supporters, encouragers, and champions for the goal. Without them, it's impossible to push through the tough times. How can you get buy in? Sell the vision. You're not trying to fleece them like a mattress salesman, you're getting them on board with what you're trying to do. One pastor I learned a lot from, when I asked how he led his church through a major transition, said "I ate a lot of pie." He took time to talk with key figures and dialogue about the goal.
Keep Going - The normal way we see diets is like a yo-yo, we lose the 20 pound goal we set and then we go right back to our bad behaviors and eating like a pig. Momentum carries when we not only reach our goal but we change our attitude & actions. That's culture. Culture is when people aren't satisfied to reach the first goal, they want to keep going. That's the difference between Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and the rest of college football--they're not satisfied easily, they're still chasing. As pastors, we cannot be complacent or rest on the laurels of past accomplishments. Keep going. Keep pushing. Keep making steps forward to reach your community.
How have you as a leader been able to keep the momentum going?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.