Death of a Goals-Junkie

Matthew Wolfe had an article published in Newsweek entitled, Reaching My Goal of Having No Life Plan. It caught my eye. Matthew has earned two degrees in music and has a Ph.D. in literature. In his past he was a “goals junkie” who lectured on the value of long-term planning. Matthew even began writing a book that he hoped would be the definitive word on the subject. But then he was converted…converted from making long-term goals which he says are, “…an exercise in futility.”

What stood out to me about Matthew’s article had little to do with whether or not setting goals is good or bad, but the things Matthew said about our fast paced lives, which he claimed is fueled, by goals. “The world of goals is about fast-tracking your life. It’s about getting from point A to Z, ASAP. Do not linger over a cup of J. There is no time to smell the R. Just go! Go! Go!” This secular thinker made me think. “We’d all be more receptive to life’s opportunities if we weren’t trying to look so far ahead.” he said.

There is a lot said these days about our need to set goals for our church…two year goals, five year plan, etc. I’m not saying this is bad it’s just that when you detail your plan and then it doesn’t work out it can be discouraging. Or have you ever heard stories of new church planters who go from 20 to 200 in 12 months? Have you ever wondered why your church doesn’t grow like that? What do they know that I don’t know? Maybe they’re better at planning than I am?

It’s so easy to get depressed when your ministry goals don’t speed along like you hoped they would. But is it possible that in our push to go from A to Z, ASAP that we might be missing things that are far more important than the growth of our church? “When I tell people I no longer make long-term plans, more than a few hint that I am a slacker or even a failure. I think it depends on how you define success. Am I right? Hardly. Famous? Nope. Climbing the professional ladder? I’m not even sure where it is anymore. Am I happy? Yes. Life may be a highway, but I’ve tossed my maps and GPS. If something neat turns up along the way, I’m stopping to take pictures.” says Matthew. Maybe we can learn something from this “failure” with a Ph.D.

I’m not suggesting that we quit making plans. But I am suggesting that our obsession with growing our church is more an indoctrination from a culture that values success over significance and rewards size more than substance. I am suggesting you invest more in your soul than your church. I am suggesting you discover what you could cut out of your calendar which would make more time for quiet, solitude, time for thinking, reading, praying, playing. Matthew Wolfe found a way to slow down and enjoy the more important things. In so doing, he was able to say, “I’m happy.” Are you happy?