Goals and Dreams

Susan and I saw the live production of “South Pacific” this last week here in Seattle.  What fun to listen to those songs that were first introduced in the 50’s.  We then followed that up with ordering the movie of the same title. This movie first came out in 1958, the year both Susan and I graduated high school.

One song in particular caught my attention: ”Happy Talk.”  In this song are the following words: “You got to have a dream...if you don’t have a you gonna have a dream come true?”

Are goals and dreams (desires about things you would like to see happen in the future) the same?  I think not. A leader I recently talked with said that he had given up on goal-setting as most of the goals he set never happened. Hence, the conclusion that setting goals is an act of futility and a waste of time and mental effort.

Allow me to address the difference between goals and dreams...they are not the same. You set goals in terms of your own behavior. You dream of things you would like to see happen, but those dreams often entail circumstances and people’s responses that are beyond your behavior and control.

Let’s take marriage as an example.  You can set goals for what you intend to do in your marriage, with the help of Jesus. For example, to listen well, date your wife, take her seriously, validate her emotions. I cannot have it as a goal to have a certain kind of marriage as that involves how my wife responds and acts and I have no control over that. I have a dream, a desire of what I would like our marriage to look like, but that is not a goal as I don’t control the outcome. So, as it relates to marriage (and lots of other areas) I have goals and dreams.

In the same way I can set goals with my kids, in the ministry and at my job in the market place, but they need to be in terms of what I will do and not in terms of what others may or may not do.

Making this distinction has freed me from the frustration of setting “goals” that never happen.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this.  Please feel free to disagree, let’s get some vigorous debate going here.


By what power and what name?

It was one of those questions that grabbed me hard.  Acts 4:7, “By what power and/or by what name did you do this?” This was a question asked of Peter and John by religious leaders after the healing of a beggar. It reminds me of a similar question that Jesus asked the religious leaders in  Luke 20:4: “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?”

Every leader needs to regularly think about this issue.  What drives and motivates me?  Where is the power coming from? For whose glory am I doing it? Is the work based on heaven’s anointing or man’s approval?

As I prayed, I journaled the following thoughts:

By what power?

I am reminded of the words of the late Fred Smith, businessman and spiritual mentor to many leaders, “Remember the power comes through you not from you.”  Is it all about me or all about Jesus?  Is it His power or is the ministry based on:

  • My gifts
  • My personality
  • My capacity
  • My charisma
  • My passion
  • My experience

By What name?

By the name of Jesus and for the glory of Jesus or is it for the name and fame of Dave Kraft? Is it all about:

  • My dreams
  • My reputation
  • My goals
  • My plans
  • My programs
  • My ideas

I love I Corinthians 15:10 in The Message, “But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am.  And I’m not about to let His grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do. God giving me the energy to do it.”  (underlining mine)


Leadership Flaws

Recently I finished a very insightful book about the leadership of Abraham Lincoln.  I have a guest blogger today who also gleaned a great deal from the book, especially from the leadership flaws of George B. McClellan, one of Lincoln’s early Generals.

Here are the five flaws from the leadership of General George B McClellan I jotted down as I (Michael Hyatt) read the book:

 Michael Hyatt is President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

  1. Hesitating to take definitive action. McClellan was constantly preparing. According to him, the Army was never quite ready. The troops just needed a little more training. In his procrastination, he refused to engage the enemy, even when he clearly had the advantage. He could just not bring himself to launch an attack. When Lincoln finally relieved him of his duties, he famously said, “If General McClellan does not want to use the Army, I would like to borrow it for a time.”

  2. Complaining about a lack of resources. He constantly complained about the lack of available resources. He didn’t have enough men. His men weren’t paid enough. They didn’t have enough heavy artillery. And on and on he went. The truth is that, as a leader, you never have enough resources. You could always use more of one thing or another. But the successful leaders figure out how to get the job done with the resources they have.

  3. Refusing to take responsibility. McClellan was constantly blaming everyone else for his mistakes and for his refusal to act. He even blamed the President. Every time he suffered a defeat or a setback, someone or something was to blame. He was a master finger-pointer. Great leaders don’t do this. They are accountable for the results and accept full responsibility for the outcomes.

  4. Abusing the privileges of leadership. While his troops were struggling in almost unbearable conditions, McClellan lived in near-royal splendor. He spent almost every evening entertaining guests with elaborate dinners and parties. He insisted on the best clothes and accommodations. His lifestyle stood in distinct contrast to General Ulysses S. Grant, his eventual successor, who often traveled with only a toothbrush.

  5. Engaging in acts of insubordination. McClellan openly and continually criticized the President, his boss. He was passive-aggressive. Even when Lincoln gave him a direct order, he found a way to avoid obeying it. In his arrogance, he always knew better than the President and had a ready excuse to rationalize his lack of follow-through.

President Lincoln had the patience of Job. He gave General McClellan numerous opportunities to correct his behavior and redeem himself. But, in the end, McClellan either could not or would not do so. He left the President no choice but to relieve him of his duties.
These same character flaws afflict many leaders today. The best safeguard is self-awareness.


Effective vs. Excellent

As leaders we have all been in groups, organizations or churches where excellence has become an all-consuming and financial sucking idol.

If I were to give you $5,000 and ask you to improve some aspect(s) of what you are doing to make it more excellent, I am sure you would be delighted and find ways to improve a process, program or product. 

More Money

What If I offered you another $10,000? Could you find even more things that could be done?  Of course you could, and would.  The more money you have at your disposal, the more you could invest to make things more and more excellent. How do you determine when excellence has become an end in itself?

When is “effective” effective enough without adding the latest toy, product, or technology tool that is increasingly costing you more but not making things more effective in getting you to where the Lord would have you be?

Pawns in a game?

Maybe we are living in age of excellence gone amuck.  We are pawns in the hands of the advertising and marketing world. In almost any investment of time and money we might make, we could always invest more; but why and for what end?  Would it be wrong to say, it is good enough as it is when someone wants to up the ante to make “it” more excellent by throwing more money and time at it?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What are some guidelines you use or questions you ask in making decisions regarding making it more excellent as opposed to leaving it as it is?


The Jesus Look

This past week, I read Luke 22:61, 62, where a certain look from Jesus literally dissolved a  generally self-confident Peter into bitter weeping; something that so-called strong men hardly ever do. What was it about that look?  What does Jesus see when He turns and looks at me/you?

What is there in His look? In what ways is He encouraged and/or disappointed as He takes a good look at me?

"And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.
And Peter remembered the saying of the
Lord, how He had said to him, before the
rooster crows today, you will deny me three
times. And he went out and wept bitterly."
- Luke 22:61, 62

Here is what I wrote in my journal:

Jesus, what do You see when You “look” at me? Do I weep when I realize what I am, compared to where I could be with and in You?

When You look at me, I think You see a follower who:

  1. Genuinely longs to have a deep and developing love relationship with You even though I fall short 
  2. Wants to learn to live in responsive obedience to what you tell me

  3. Wants to live simply and humbly as I am surrounded by plenty and pride

  4. Understands his gifts and capacity and desires to stay focused but is often distracted

  5. Experiences vitality and vision as a sheer gift from You

  6. Wants to be a man of prayer on behalf of young leaders

  7. Still struggles with lust, anger and impatience

  8. Wants to remain teachable and be a life-long learner; to stay flexible in spirit and attitude, not rigid as I often am

What does Jesus see when He “looks” at you? How are your responding to “His look?”