Are SMART Goals Holding You Back?

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Q: Are you setting SMART goals and working to meet those goals as a part of your small group ministry?

If you answered yes, that is terrific. Goal setting is important for you and your team.

Goals provide many benefits including:

  • Giving a roadmap to achieving your vision and mission
  • Focusing your team on what is most important
  • Providing a basis for decisions
  • Improving time, task, and resource management
  • Increasing motivation throughout your team
  • Establishing accountability
  • Reducing stress

But to get these benefits, your goals need to be well defined. One popular and proven method of ensuring you have well-defined goals is to ensure they are SMART.

What is a SMART Goal?

SMART is a five letter acronym that defines the features every goal should have. They are:

Specific
Measurable
Action-oriented
Realistic
Timely

SMART goals are effective.

But as followers of Jesus, we need to be careful about how we apply the SMART criteria. Otherwise, we could be holding ourselves back from all that God wants to do through us.

How Can a SMART Goal Hold You Back?

to understand how SMART goals can be a problem, let’s review a couple of popular stories on Israel’s path to the Promised Land.

  1. Moses was asked by God to go to the Pharaoh of Egypt and demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Moses argued with God that he was not the right person for the job. God proved him wrong.
  2. Twelve spies checked out the land God promised to the children of Israel. When they returned, ten of the twelve spies didn’t believe they could overtake the Promised Land. God ultimately proved them wrong (after punishing them with forty years of wandering around in the desert).

What do these stories have in common? God was asking something to be done that appeared unrealistic from an earthly perspective. There are many examples like these in the Bible. It is no different today than in Bible times.

God wants us to depend on Him. He frequently uses ordinary or unqualified people to accomplish extraordinary things. Things that appear unrealistic.

It requires faith.

SMART vs. MAST Goals

Continue to set SMART goals for your small group ministry and reap the benefits.

But when God whispers a goal to you that appears unrealistic, don’t give in to the temptation to reduce or eliminate it. That is the danger of realistic being a criterion for your goal.

Instead, do one of two things:

  1. Redefine realistic as something that can be done with the help of an all-powerful, all-knowing God. That is essentially what the other two spies did when they advocated overtaking the Promised Land.
  2. Don’t check if the goal is realistic. Have faith that God will provide. You can even use a new acronym, MAST, that contains all of the criteria as SMART except for the Realistic criterion is missing.
    Measurable
    Action-oriented
    Specific
    Timely

Are your goals God-inspired? Be sure they are in alignment with what He has in store. Don’t hold back!