The Decision Making Process

Decisions are made on the basis of intuition, emotions, experience, deductive logic, tryout, or considered judgment. The best approach to take would be the last, that of considered judgment. This would involve using a decision-making process.

Setting goals and priorities.

The decision-making process starts with the setting of goals. This begins a given cycle that culminates when the goals are met. The next complete cycle begins with the setting of new goals. The goals should state what is to be achieved, preserved, and avoided. Criteria for making good goals include relevance, practicality, challenge, measurability, balance, flexibility, timeliness, growth, cost effectiveness, and accountability. Priorities need to reflect the goals that must be met, and which are desirable but not mandatory.

Defining of the problem or situation

Three questions need to be answered. What is the apparent problem? What are the facts about the problem? What is the real problem? Sometimes when the facts are in, the discovery is made that the apparent problem is not the real problem.

Searching for alternatives

In the decision-making process, search involves scanning the internal and external environments of the organization for information. Relevant information is formulated into alternatives that seem likely to fulfill the goals. Some are rejected immediately, but many alternatives are kept for additional study. Decision makers need to be open minded. Limits of time and money will have to be placed on the search. A creative brainstorming approach might be used when all kinds of solutions are suggested, and then the better ones are investigated.

Comparing and evaluating alternatives

There is a danger here of “paralysis of analysis.” Alternatives represent various courses of action that singly or in combination may help attain the goals. By formal and informal means, alternatives are compared based on the certainty or uncertainty of cause and effect relationships and the preferences of the decision maker for various probabilistic outcomes. Here the decision maker needs to consider what the Bible says, what ethical issues are involved, and what impact this decision will have on the people involved.

A careful review of probable consequences of each alternative must be made. When this is done, an elimination of several alternatives can be completed. Three techniques are used:

Judgmental, which is based on experience, values, perceptions, and intuition. This is frequently used because it is the quickest.
Bargaining, where choices are controversial and external forces have power.
Analysis, where the choice is made based on maximizing objectives. This last technique is very thorough.

Act of choice

This is just one part of the process. Choice is a moment in the ongoing process of decision-making when the decision maker chooses a given course of action from among a set of alternatives. There are constraints to deal with, such as the cognitive limitations, time and cost restrictions, and imperfect information.

There are some special problems in choosing between alternatives:
(1) When two alternatives appear equally attractive, flip a coin.
(2) When no choice will accomplish all the objectives, use two or three choices.
(3) When side effects or consequences appear too harsh, keep looking for other alternatives, or revise this one.
(4) When there are too many choices, then organize them.
(5) When none of the alternatives will accomplish the goals, keep looking or modify the goals.

When a choice of alternatives is made, it will produce two results:
(1) A change of organization. Organizational changes cause anxiety, hostility, and resistance. Implementation plans for the decision needs to include how to change the organization with the least amount of problems.
(2) A commitment of resources: finances, human, and physical. These resources are not unlimited and so a commitment to one decision makes resources unavailable for other decisions or programs.

Implementing the decision

Implementation causes the chosen course of action to be carried out within the organization. It is that moment in the total decision-making process when the choice is transformed from an abstraction into an operational reality. The formal communication of that decision to the members is next.

Follow-up and control

This function is intended to ensure that the implemented decision results in an outcome that is in keeping with the objectives that gave rise to the total cycle of functions within the decision-making process.

IDEAL Decision Making

A simple and easy to remember anagram of decision-making based on the word “Ideal” has been suggested:

Identify the problem
Define the problem
Explore possible strategies
Act on your decision
Look at the results of your solution.

There are criteria to use to evaluate if the decision made is a good decision:
1. A good decision inspires initial confidence––you feel good about it.
2. You based your decision on an adequate amount of information. You stopped to ask, “Exactly what is needed to know to make this decision––and how do I get the information?” Unless you have done this you may continue to feel uneasy about your decision.
3. The decision was clearly necessary and directed to the real issues.
4. It coincides with what you believe the Bible teaches and with your overriding priority to worship God and to please Him.
5. Your decision will best achieve the basic purpose for making the decision and accomplish your goals better than alternatives.
6. It is a well-balanced decision (you achieve what you want to achieve without too great a risk to available resources) and it will not create additional problems.
7. You can support it objectively and defend it logically.
8. You are confident it will be implemented by those on whom its success depends.

Goal and Strategy Formulation

Now the committee is ready to write goals for the future. These goals should meet the same criteria given in the chapter on Time Management. They should be specific, measurable, challenging but attainable, dated, and written.

Goals should be prepared for areas like church membership and attendance, new members, contributions, staff, facilities, new programs, and goals for each of the church program areas. Each program organization should submit goals for the next 5–7 years to the committee at this point. Some of these goals may be for immediate implementation, and some may be for 7–10 years in the future. The organizational leaders need to be very involved in this part of the planning process. The goals might be put on a planning sheet that would contain the goal, the activities needed to accomplish the goal, a time to do each activity, the person responsible for each activity, and the resources needed (funds, buildings, personnel, and equipment) for each activity. Some control or reporting points
should be indicated to show how it would be monitored.

A standard approach could be adopted to force a uniform analysis and to provide some means to compare competing goals. Each recommended goal could be described by the function it is to perform and the services and skills required. Underlying assumptions and factors critical to its success are considered, and strong emphasis is given to defining measurable results to be expected. Next, the resources required and currently available are listed along with a preliminary budget. Any negative consequences of approval or disapproval are considered, along with possible alternatives. An important criterion of this summary outline is that it can be no more than two pages.

The goals are then each considered on the basis of a series of challenges or questions as to their merit:
1. Does the goal offer a practical, logical response to the issues and facts?
2. Does it promise measurable and worthwhile results?
3. Will it make predictable, reasonable demands on resources?
4. Will it substantially improve the situation or worsen it?
5. Does it needlessly burden the organization while ignoring the responsibilities of others?

The organization strategy can now be implemented into the organizational structure. Developing a strategy and an organization structure to match should be simultaneous events, not independent and sequential. When strategy is developed, therefore, organizational issues must be included as an integral part of the strategy formulation and implementation process. The organizational strategy and structure must consider lay leadership and professional leadership. This will include the revision of job descriptions, and the adding of new positions. Especially, the need for additional staff must be considered with a growth strategy.

All the possible strategies had to be narrowed down to the one best strategy before this could be done. This is done through sub-units, and they all establish goals which become the end for the sub-unit but a means for the next higher unit’s goals (means-end chain). Thus, each level of goals is derived from, and in turn supports, the accomplishment of the next highest level in the hierarchy.

Specialization and coordination are the two concepts most useful in choosing among alternative ways of organizing the parts of an organization to complete the tasks efficiently and effectively.

The organization structure should be designed to support the accomplishment of goals and the making of decisions to implement strategies. If possible, it is best to have one position or person responsible for the accomplishment of each goal and for implementing strategies in achieving this goal.

In this step, the planners must identify, examine, and evaluate the specific alternatives available. The evaluation of alternatives deals with the definition and evaluation of the alternative ways in which the resources of the organization are to be employed to achieve the organization’s objectives. Thus, the process of evaluating alternatives is one of deciding on the best route for the organization, given the conditions and limitations of the future.

The evaluation of alternatives, using some form of cost-benefit analysis, should be performed in terms of the previously selected objectives and should therefore lead to the selection of alternatives congruent with these objectives. These alternatives, together with a statement of risk and uncertainty, constitute the core of strategic planning. To be meaningful, they must be cast in the framework of what can be done and what should be done, given the existing organizational purposes and the risks in the future.

The financial considerations are becoming increasingly important in selecting alternatives. The chief financial officer needs to have an important role to play in this part of the process and not just the program people. By integrating financial planning within the overall planning effort, a ministry can develop a truly strategic plan based on the best information from everyone on the team. Some consultants are very much aware of this.

The reimbursement implications of an alternative are considered, but the ultimate test of financial feasibility is made only after the program is selected. In effect, the solution is determined, and then the question of affordability is raised. If an institution is to survive, it must take into account both the programmatic and financial elements of planning from the outset.

The committee writes and presents the plans

The long-range planning report should contain most of the following types of information:
1. The need for long-range planning
2. A history of the past 5–10 years of the church
3. Church growth for the past 5–10 years
4. Strengths and weaknesses of church programs, such as staff, facilities, and programs
5. Community characteristics and projections
6. The church and community needs for the present and the next 5 years
7. Church goals based on those needs
8. Strategies to reach the goals

The committee should report to the church in several stages. The committee might report on the written statement of purpose or objectives for the church. A second report might present the critical needs that needed to be addressed in the planning. A third report could be long-range goals for the church. A final report could summarize the total study. This type of reporting could keep the church membership informed of the progress.

Evaluating and Revising Goals

If you have been following the other parts of this section on time management then you are on your way to achieving your goals.  But it is important to evaluate and revise your goals periodically.  Only a fool would stick to unrealistic or out of date deadlines and we wish to eliminate that.

Things will occur that will change your timeline.  Some goals may be accomplished ahead of schedule while in some cases you may realize that you bit off more than you can chew and must extend your deadline.  These are not failures, simply an acknowledgement that your original estimate was off.  If it was expected to be completely accurate it wouldn’t be an estimate.

Other things in life can drastic throw off your time schedule or even change your priorities.  Major life events such as getting married, having a child, or moving may drastically change your outlook and create the need to reevaluate your goals.  There is nothing wrong with this and this should actually be expected and encouraged.

When you sit down to evaluate and revise your goals, here are some things to take into account:

Goals should be reexamined

Are they big enough? Are they too big? Should additional goals be written? Should some of these be dropped? Should more or maybe less time be given to accomplish them?

The helping and hindering forces need to be reexamined

Have conditions been altered that would affect these goals? Are there new elements that will be involved? Has anyone changed sides?

The actions must be reexamined

Will more activities be required? Would less activities achieve the goal? Will some of these be too expensive at this time? Is the schedule correct?

Probably, about twice a year, a leader should do a time-use study.  Essentially this involves comparing how you planned to use your time with how you actually used your time in a given week.  If the actual is not very similar to the planned, then one or the other must be changed. The planned use of time may not allow enough time for some activities. The actual may show some time used very poorly, indeed even wasted. One key to success is to plan your work, and then work your plan.

Planning a Schedule

Once goals are set, priorities are established, and a strategy is developed it is finally time to plan a schedule.  Many people allow outside forces to dictate their schedule and then bemoan their inability to accomplish their goals.  Instead a schedule must be made with goals in mind.

When planning a schedule there are several time frames to plan for.  Just as some goals are long term and others are short term, so will one schedule be long term and another short term.  Here is how to plan a schedule for both the long and short term.

Annual planning

Planning a schedule becomes more specific as events draw closer on the calendar. The planning process needs to start with long-range and intermediate goals. The goals are dated and one could list the goals to be accomplished in each of the next ten years. This gives the distant direction one is moving toward year by year.

Some evaluation needs to be done as one looks at how much is to be accomplished in each of these future years. The dates may need to be extended for some of the goals.

Monthly planning

The planning of a monthly schedule requires the placement of the anticipated actions in the projected months. These actions are primarily taken from the planned actions on the strategy for planning worksheets for short-term and immediate goals. A separate page could be set up for each of the next 24 months. After placing all the actions planned to accomplish the immediate and short-term goals, one should review the monthly planning calendar of his ministry or place of employment. Most churches or businesses have events scheduled that will place extra time or energy demands on the staff. These should be indicated on the monthly planning sheets. Types of church events could include revivals, mission conferences, stewardship programs, and others.

Next, a brief review of the activities planned for each month will be needed. Two questions need to be raised. First, are there too many activities planned for any month? The time, money, and energy available must be considered. If the number of actions planned is unrealistic, then you need to consider reducing the goals and the actions. The second question would be, is there a reasonable balance in the planned actions for the month? Try to get the expectations at similar levels for each month in the year.

One to three days a year could wisely be spent in this type of planning. Many ministers find the Christmas holidays the best time to do this. Do not just plan the next 12 months. The next 15–18 months should be considered. By getting plans out 15–18 months, at the end of the first year, when the process begins again, there are already things in the planning process.

Weekly planning

The planning of a schedule for each week is one of the most critical stages of this whole personal improvement program. Everyone has the same 168 hours to use. It is fairly obvious that some accomplish a lot more with their 168 hours a week than others.  Here is a way to break down the hours of the week to fill in the schedule:

1. Allocate time for an ideal 168 hour week

The place to start planning a weekly schedule is to decide on the ideal time allotments for your life. The personal value system could be used here. Here one wants to list all the personal activities that need to be performed and indicate the ideal weekly time allotment for that activity. This should include personal devotions, sleep, work, etc. The total number of hours should be 168 for the week. At this point one is not deciding when in the week the activity will be performed, just how much time should be allocated to it.

One of the graduates from Liberty Seminary recently published in his church’s newsletter a response to questions about his schedule that gave priorities and time allotments. The priorities were based on Acts 6:4, Ephesians 4:11–13, and 1 Timothy 3:1–7.  Although this is not intended as a suggested list of priorities and time allotments, it is a model, and shows a way to publicize it.

Priority 1 – Personal Bible study and prayer, 10 hours
Priority 2 – Sermon preparation, 20–25 hours
Priority 3 – Church administration, 15–20 hours
Priority 4 – Discipleship of new believers, 3–4 hours
Priority 5 – Staff meetings and interaction, 4–5 hours
Priority 6 – Visitation, 3–4 hours
Priority 7 – Counseling, hours vary by need

2. General Week – controlled by others

Now one can design a personal calendar of events that would be general or standard and fit any week. Make up a seven-day calendar with the 24 hours for each day, blocked out in 30 minute segments. First, block in the time for activities for which you cannot control the time they must be performed. Work time may be set by someone else. Regular church services, such as Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday evening, and Thursday night visitation should be marked. Any other regular meetings, services, appointments, classes, and such can then be indicated. These are times set by someone besides you.

3. General Week – personal control of time

Some large blocks of time should be left. These remaining segments are what you will have control over. As a student, or as a pastor, some large parts of this time need to be devoted to study. A pastor might estimate an amount of time needed for sermon preparation. Twenty hours might be blocked in for the three main services each week. A pastor might also estimate time requirements for personal evangelistic outreach, ministry to church families, and church administration tasks and allocate time segments for these. These are times that you will have more control over, but scheduling time for them will assure time made available.

In the planning of this general weekly schedule, some considerations must be given to a person’s basic value system. These are in order of priority: God, family, ministry, self, Christian world, and community. Does the general weekly schedule of activities reflect these values? Does the schedule show that God is first and family second? This calendar could then be reproduced and used for a time period.

A person must also consider their personal rhythms and when they have peak periods of energy. Some people are definitely more alert in the mornings, and some in the evenings. Activities that require mental alertness should be scheduled in a person’s prime hours. Most people are more creative in the morning. Use this for study time. Later morning hours may be good for administrative tasks. Afternoons may be best for meetings, counseling, and visitation.

4. A specific week

The next step would be to plan for the specific weeks. The general week should have several large blocks of time left, probably some every day. That is not all “free” time. This is the flexible time that must be scheduled. It would be wise to make copies of the general weekly schedule to use for planning and evaluating each specific week.

Leaders need to look at the monthly activities that are to be scheduled to meet the goals established earlier. Estimates of the leader’s time must be made for every activity. These estimates must then be inserted into the copies of the general week calendar. This could be done on a weekly basis, or it could actually be done several weeks ahead, almost as a part of the monthly planning. Estimates of time needed for a project is probably one of the most difficult parts of the process. Quite often priorities and goals will have to be reevaluated because the time demands exceed the time available.

It will be necessary to build some flexibility into each week. Some set aside blocks of time and actually leave it for unplanned events that come up during the actual week. Two evenings a week might simply be blocked out as time for others. At least one of these might be saved for something that comes up on the day before. If nothing develops you could have some time for extra projects such as reading a magazine or book, doing house repairs, spending extra time with the family, or visiting someone.

The leader who will plan the use of his time will always make better use of it. There is a problem with planning and that is: too many unplanned events occur to spoil the plan. Those in the ministry are always having emergencies to come up to alter their plans. The planning for unplanned events above will help, but sometimes you simply do not have enough planned time for the unplanned events.

Sometimes the weekly schedules for a month can be shifted so that no priority has to be changed. This is the best way. The schedule is re-shifted, and activities for several weeks are adjusted, but the same amount of planned time is made available for all of the planned actions. For example, if in one week a pastor has five deaths in his membership instead of an average of less than one a week, then his schedule is in trouble. Maybe he had allocated twelve hours a week for church family ministry and now it is necessary to spend 30 hours that week. If he can divide the extra 18 hours over the next four week period, he can maintain his same basic time allotment. Those extra 18 hours can be taken off at the rate of 4½ hours a week for the next 4 weeks, still leaving 7½ hours each week for church family ministry. Whatever activities the extra 18 hours were taken from can then have them added back during the next 4 weeks. A student with extra exams could also follow the same procedure. If you have to drop your family night one week, then take an afternoon and night or two nights the next week. Sometimes priorities will have to be realigned and something dropped. Don’t do it without rethinking all of your priorities.

Daily planning

A successful life is composed of a succession of successful days. A really simple process has been suggested by many for daily planning. First, make a list of things you need to do. Most office supply stores have special memo pads prepared for this. The weekly calendar should be consulted, of course. Second, number each action according to the order of real importance for the day. This establishment of priority continues to be a major part of planning. Remember the six questions to ask about assigning priorities. Next, start to work on the first priority and work on it until the job is finished. When it is finished, move on to the next priority item and continue the same process all day. The process is continued all day, not necessarily until the list is completed. If the list is not finished, at least the most important jobs were finished. Add any unfinished item to the list of things to do in the next day. Do this before priorities are assigned. There will be some things which may not be important enough to ever get done. There will also tend to be more jobs delegated to others, thereby freeing the leader and developing the assistant.

Planning a Strategy

After goals have been established and priorities assigned, then strategies for accomplishing the goals need to be planned. The strategies are the actions, activities, projects, and programs that will be necessary to accomplish the goals.

Taking the time to plan a strategy can be a real time saver. Planning is actually the process of deciding the best way to get from where one is to the place he wants to be. When enough time is given to planning, then the total time for accomplishing a project may be shorter than if a person began to work on the project without taking sufficient time to plan. If a person fails to plan his use of time, then he may not get the work accomplished which God intends for him to do. A person cannot add hours to a day, or days to his life. He must plan his use of time to ensure the best usage of it. It is generally held that one hour spent in effective planning will save 3–4 hours in execution and obtain better results.

A strategy needs to be planned for each immediate and short-term goal. The strategies for the longer term goals can wait until they are closer to realization. A simple chart can be used for this planning process. It should have the following sections which are the progressive steps to follow:

Present Situation:
Hindering Forces:
Helping Forces:

Below is an example of the planning strategy.


To have one person every week to accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior during the next twelve months as a result of my personal witnessing efforts.

The goal should have the characteristics given earlier. It should be specific, challenging but attainable, measurable, dated, and written.

Present situation

I find that without a measurable goal, my witnessing is not as consistent, nor as pressing as it really should be. 

After selecting a goal, the first step is to appraise the present situation. The goal would indicate where one wants to go and in what length of time. However, where is the starting point? Why was this goal chosen? What kinds of needs are present in that area? One or two statements written about the present situation will help remind a person of where he is in relation to the goal.

Hindering forces

1. Personal lack of boldness
2. Busy personal schedule
3. Failure to come in contact with many lost persons
4. Uncertainty of best method to use

Hindering forces will always be there. They existed before the goal writing procedure was started. If a person fails to achieve a goal, it may be because he failed to plan a strategy that would overcome the hindering forces. These should be recognized, and a defense planned for them. The goal that requires a lot of change from the present situation will have more hindering forces than one requiring less change. A great leader used to say that one should attempt to find one hundred solutions to every possible problem. This is basically what one does as he considers the hindering forces.

Helping forces

1. Conviction about the need to be personally involved in soul winning
2. Knowledge and experience in witnessing used successfully in the past
3. Constant influence at church to be involved in soul winning
4. Bible commands that soul winning is every Christian’s job
5. Lost people around me needing a witness from me

Helping forces also exist and need to be recognized. These forces will help a person to move from the present situation to the goal. They serve as very valuable assets. They represent the advantages a person has. If the goal is a good goal, there will be many things that can be called helping forces.


1. Witness to a minimum of five persons each week.
2. Keep a journal of witnessing efforts that will include those who actually accept Christ as Savior.
3. Pray daily for boldness.
4. Pray daily for opportunities to witness.
5. Always carry a New Testament and some tracts.
6. Be alert to witnessing opportunities.
7. Read at least six books next year on soul winning. These should include both how to and motivation books.

Everything done up to this point has been in preparation for this step. If a person stops before this, there will be some motivation for improvement, but no specific plans for improvement have been made. This part of the self-improvement process is very important. One cannot start here, as each part of the study up to this point has been important preparation. However, one must not stop before completing this, or much of the previous effort will be for nothing.

What actions, activities, programs, or projects can be used to help accomplish the goal? Review again the hindering forces, and suggest some things that can be done to overcome them.

The kinds of things which might be listed are almost endless. It might include training activities such as reading a book, attending a conference, or even taking a class. It probably would include adding specific requests to one’s daily prayers. It would include many different kinds of things to do, some daily, some weekly or monthly, and some maybe to be done only once. Everything needed to accomplish a goal should be planned for at this point.

It will be better to have too much planned rather than to have too little. A person needs to really turn the mind loose on this and attempt to discover every possible activity that can be used to help in achieving the goal.

This process of planning strategies can be compared to a journey. The goal is the destination. The present situation is the starting point. The hindering forces are the obstacles or barriers that will make the journey difficult. The actions are the things that will be done to move toward the goal. As one writes down all these things, he is planning the strategy for accomplishing his goals based on his objectives. Now one is ready to schedule time to do all the activities.

Characteristics of Goals

Every year thousands if not millions of people make New Years’ resolutions.  These resolutions include such things as lose weight, eat healthier, be a better person.  While these are noble things, they are not true goals as they lack specific criteria.  Lose how much weight?  By when?  What classifies as being a better person?  When it comes time to set goals for yourself, it is important to keep the following characteristics in mind.

It is important before one starts trying to write goals that he differentiates between goals and purposes or objectives. A purpose or objective is an overall aim that may be impossible to attain. They are not measurable. “To be a good father” is an objective. How can you know if you have done this? Long-range goals are very close to objectives, but they should meet the criteria for good goals. A good goal will be specific, measurable, accomplishable, dated, and written. These five basic factors need to be recognized before starting to establish goals.

Goals should be specific

An objective is a more general statement of a larger target than a goal. An objective is something that you work a lifetime to accomplish and may never be accomplished. A goal is a bite-sized chunk of an objective. It should be stated in exact terms.

Goals should include a measurement device

A goal should be worded in such a way that it will show a specific number of things to be accomplished. This is one step more in being specific. A goal should not simply say “to be evangelistic,” but could say “to win one person to Christ each week for a total of 52 weeks.” Another example could be “to save $10.00 every Friday for one year” and not just “to save some money.” This could be based on an objective of becoming a better steward of
material possessions.

Goals should be attainable but should be challenging

A goal should be something toward which to aim. If a goal is so close and so easy it requires no effort to achieve, then it is a poor goal. On the other hand, if a goal is so difficult that the probability of accomplishing it is so slight that it seems impossible, then it is a poor goal. If a goal appears too difficult, then break it down into sub-goals or smaller pieces, and accomplish a little bit of it at a time. Whenever a goal is necessary but involves an unpleasant task, the division into smaller goals can make it more appealing. Make a goal something that can be reached. Easier and shorter term goals will serve as stepping stones to more difficult and longer term goals.

Goals should be dated

A date should be set for accomplishing a goal. It will usually even be better to say “by September 30” rather than to say “in three months.” Sometimes we forget the starting point, and the end of three months could be moved. Specific dates should be used for immediate and short-term goals. Intermediate and long-range goals would probably only be dated by years. ASAP (as soon as possible) is not acceptable. Set a date and work toward meeting the date. If the date cannot be achieved, then establish a new date.

Goals should be written

It is far better to write your goals down on paper than to try to keep them in your mind. A few days during the Christmas season or summer vacation can be profitably spent preparing some annual goals for your personal life. Put your commitment in writing. In fact, it is usually good to even share your goals with a friend. Some goals may need to be shared with a supervisor to be sure your personal goals are reflections of the goals of the larger ministry.

When you have actually written down a list of goals that reflect the qualities just presented, you are then ready to go to the second major step. Most people make so many goals that they have problems in accomplishing them, and so they need to establish some priorities.

Classifications of Goals

The key to setting goals is knowing how to classify them.  While the end goal may be to pastor a large church or earn a Ph.D. there are numerous goals in between to accomplish the final goal.  Recognizing the difference between goals is important in accomplishing them.

Long-range goals

A goal that would require 5 or more years to accomplish is a long-range goal. The ultimate long-range goals would be the life-long objectives one would like to accomplish. Usually long-range goals would be achievable in 5–10 years. One can just about become anything he wants to be, if he works at it for 10 years. A high school graduate could even go all the way through college to a Ph.D. in less than 10 years. One could become a medical doctor, build a business empire, or build one of the largest churches in the world in 10 years or less.

Intermediate goals

Goals for the next 2–5 years might be called intermediate goals. They should contribute toward the long-range goals. Examples of intermediate goals are to complete a graduate degree, to change vocations, or to take a Holy Land Tour.

Short-term goals

A goal that could be accomplished in 1–2 years might be called a short-term goal. This type of goal would indicate you are going to expend a major effort to accomplish it in the near future. It should be a stepping stone to an intermediate goal and contribute toward the accomplishment of a long-range goal. Many personal goals fit into this category.

Immediate goals

A goal that could be accomplished in 3–6 months, or at least in less than one year, could be considered an immediate goal. Many goals can be accomplished in a very short time. These goals also need to be related to longer term goals.

Setting Goals

The Bible tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  Without goals to strive for people languish in indecision.  With goals a person can quickly decide if an action will help them reach their goals or not.  Some goals are simple such as relax and have fun while others are aggressive such as earn a Ph.D. by 32.  Whatever your goals are, they will give you direction to your life.

What is a goal?

  •  Something toward which to aim
  •  A target
  •  A specific purpose worth working towards
  •  A desired outcome that can be measured in terms of progress toward an objective
  •  A statement of faith – how one hopes things are going to be at some time in the future

Reasons for Goals

Goals give direction. Goals provide targets for aiming. A wise man said, “You aim at nothing and you’ll probably hit it.” Goals provide something toward which to plan and work. A person with goals for his life has direction. He will know where he is going, and he will know the way.

Goals provide a standard for choosing activities. Goals are ends toward which a person is working. One chooses activities to be the means to reach the end, and then the means becomes an end. This is an end-means inversion, and it always spells trouble. By checking activities against the established ends or goals, one can avoid unnecessary activities or work.

Goals motivate. Goals held before workers provide an incentive to work harder and longer. An attendance goal for a high Sunday will produce extra effort. A goal established to visit so many houses, or to jog so many miles, can keep one going. Extra resources will sometimes be called upon to accomplish a goal.

Goals provide mile posts. Goals are based on objectives. You may never accomplish an objective, but a goal is a bite-sized piece of an objective. A goal serves as a mile post to indicate how far one has traveled. Sometimes larger goals should be broken down into smaller goals to make the mile posts easier to reach. This is more than direction; it shows one has reached a mark or small target.

Goals provide a measurement device for evaluation. Evaluation is very important. It is the final step in planning. When goals are written, then evaluation is simplified. The goals say exactly where one wants to go and when one wants to arrive. The evaluation process simply finds out if you arrived at the destination as intended. It is impossible to evaluate without goals or standards being established.