One of my goals for this renewal leave was to cook more meals in the evening for myself and my husband.
It is something I love to do, and I use about two more pots or utensils than I need and make a lovely delicious mess every time.
But I love to cook. I love to discover new flavors and adapt recipes and buy fresh ingredients based on one meal and take a few hours in the kitchen.
I can honestly tell you I have made exactly zero of those big fancy meals. Last night, I made a one pot casserole while Brandon was at the hardware store. We’ve had frozen pizza twice this week. Our fridge has never been emptier.
Even though making dinner was my goal, it was connected with the goal to spend more quality time with my husband. And when either of us cook, we get in each others way.
He is also in charge of the dishes (my responsibility is the cats and the garbage), and so my kitchen messes stress him out.
He is a much pickier eater than I am, too.
I realized I had competing goals, so I have ended up cooking very little this past month.
Sometimes churches have competing goals, too.
I was part of a church in Nashville that wanted to both provide excellent child care AND be open to people off the street. We couldn’t do the second effectively because we needed to keep doors locked and building access limited for child safety.
Denominations have such competing goals and priorities as well. My own annual conference is balancing budget reduction/apportionment reduction AND the goals to reach new people/better equip leaders. To be honest, they don’t co-exist very well.
As I thought about my own competing goals, a few questions came to mind that might help churches discern as well:
1) Where do my goals intersect or overlap? Do they mutually benefit each other? Or detract? A simple evaluation can bring to light places of competition or cooperation.
2) Is this goal something I want, or something we need? Especially in churches, it is sometimes hard to let go of goals you are personally excited about. But, if it doesn’t fit with the overall direction or priorities of the church, it is easier to let them go.
3) Who benefits from these goals? Who is harmed? This can be a tricky question, especially if you are dealing with multiple vulnerable populations (like children/homeless, or small churches/campus ministries). Yet, sometimes we make assumptions about who is benefiting from our goals or who becomes more at risk. Taking the time to evaluate in this way clears the waters.
4) Can a different goal, or a different ministry do the work just as well? Can you better equip local homeless
ministry and work there, rather than do it in your building? Can you focus on stewardship and helping churches pay their share instead of reducing the payments for everyone? Can you go out to eat more, instead of cooking g at home? We simply can’t do everything and realizing what our options are helps us shift our goals.