A while back I read this analogy by Seth Godin: “A sailboat without a sail might float. For a long time, in fact. But without a sail, it can’t go anywhere, can’t fulfill its function. Floating is insufficient.” I believe life without a goal is like a boat without a sail. That’s also true of ministry and our local churches. Without clear direction, we are just floating, uncertain if we can accomplish our purpose.
So how can we put up our sails and move forward, rather than simply float? Here are a few important steps:
1. REFLECT: Take time for prayer and planning.
“Thinking is hard, but not thinking can be disastrous.”
To take the helm is to take responsibility on a boat or in an organization. It’s from here the direction is set and the course determined so we must not take this lightly. Howard Hendricks said, “Nothing is more profitable than serious thinking, and nothing is more demanding.” Leaders need time to think, time to get away. In order to wisely steer, we must carve out time for prayer and planning.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3
2. RESPOND: Don’t be afraid to set a course.
“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!”
If the helm is where you steer the boat, goals are the rudder by which we steer. Set a goal! Some Christians thinking setting a goal is un-spiritual. I’ve heard people say, “I’m just trusting the Lord,” when what they may really be saying is, “I have no plan or idea.”
But that sounds like a leader who is either too lazy or too fearful to set a goal. Leadership is hard work and takes great courage; leaders move ahead in spite of their fears! There is a myth that leaders are never afraid. Courage is moving ahead in spite of your fear. Don’t let fear hold you back from opportunities.
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. 1 Chron. 4:10
3. RESOLVE: Be willing to pay the price.
“Every purpose has a price!
The term heeling refers to when a sailboat leans over in the water, pushed by the wind. Sailors say there’s nothing like the thrill of heeling over as your sails fill and your speed picks up. There’s some risk involved though. It can be as minimal as waves washing onto deck or as catastrophic as capsizing. Heeling requires risk.
However, don’t let risk alone decide your course of action. This is a tension to be managed, not a problem to be solved. Never make a decision based on how many problems there may be. Base your decision on what is right and what could be accomplished if those problems were overcome.
If one of you is planning to build a tower, he sits down first and figures out what it will cost to see if he has enough money to finish the job. Luke 14:28 (TGN)
BEFORE YOU GO…
Whether we are leading a church, a ministry, a family, or a business, each of us carries a high calling to leadership. In order to lead well we must carve out time to pray and plan, do the brave work of setting goals, and then be willing to pay the price to take action. A floating life may be easy but it will never be fulfilling in the way that a life of purpose will be. God has called us to something greater.