Whose Goals Are Most Important?


Whose Goals Are Most Important?

Last week I argued that teams are built around mission, not around trusting relationships.  And if that’s the case, a key question surfaces: “Whose vision do we build our team around?”  While the answer might seem obvious – “the leader’s, of course” – it’s not.

Last week on Tony Morgan’s blog, Dave Ferguson encouraged leaders to:

Stop leading with, “Here is the vision, figure out how you can help.”

[And, instead] Start leading with, “God has a vision for you and we want to help.”

I loved it. Just last week I was lecturing on various forms/strategies of organizational control, and we talked about management theorist Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y.  McGregor’s management theory basically suggests that one manages (X or Y) based on how s/he perceives that people view work, disliking and wanting to avoid work (X) or enjoying and seeing work as natural as play (Y), and follows a long line of managerialist thinking that puts management’s desires way above those of workers.  I’ll spare you my full commentary on how management came to be and the issues inherent in its rise, but for my purposes here, I want to point out one of McGregor’s arguments: “The essential task of management is to arrange things so people achieve their own goals by accomplishing those of the organization.” 

Now, of course, that sounds well and good, but are people merely pawns to be used by an organization to get done what managers want?  I hope not.  In fact, I asked my students if more contemporary views of human motivation, such as those explained in the popular press in Daniel Pink’s book Drive, push us to flip the question, as follows:

The essential task of management is to arrange things so organizations can achieve their goals as people accomplish their own goals.

The key issue at stake is what comes first and which is the primary concern – personal vision and goals or organizational vision and goals.  I agree with Dave. Let’s stop forcing people to fit under or into our church or ministry’s vision.  Instead, let’s learn the unique calling and vision that God has given to each believer, and then let’s build our churches and our ministries to help them accomplish that calling. 

Personal vision and organizational or team vision are not mutually exclusive, as I wrote about in a previous post.  They can integrate beautifully, but doing so requires humility, time, and honest dialogue.  And when people are helped to accomplish their personal vision and goals, I bet we’ll see a flourishing of creativity, productivity, influence, and joyful alignment.

Reflection Moment:

What do you think?  Do you agree?  Why or why not?

What would happen if you stopped trying to shove your ministry’s vision down your people’s throats and instead helped them to discover and fulfill God’s vision for their lives?

Photo Credit: Argen van den Broek 



  1. Dave Ferguson February 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    I think this is a crucial shift that all organizations, but churches in particular need to make if they are ever going to see movement. If your readers resonate with this content they will probably like “Lead With A ‘Yes!'” http://leadnet.org/resources/video/dave_ferguson_yes

  2. Top 7 Posts – Ryan T. Hartwig April 17, 2012 at 8:52 am - Reply

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