When you’re leading a ministry, you only have a compass, not a map. You can’t predict the future and trying to plan out every little thing often does not work. Yet the allure of planning runs strong in many leaders.

Map-Based Planning

We often treat planning for ministry like we have a map in our hands: a definitive end point, or goal. With a definitive goal or “vision” in our minds, the method for accomplishing the goal is merely to work backwards from whatever end date we come up with and voila…an accomplished goal. But life doesn’t work that way, especially in the church.

Often, we may have a “leading” from God about some kind of direction to chart as a ministry, yet the goal or “vision” may be a bit fuzzy. That’s ok. Because we’re in the same position like Abraham was when God told him to just “go” and leave the rest to him (Genesis 12:1-2). Furthermore, the “goals” of ministry are often unmeasurable. How do you really measure spiritual growth?!? (And therefore, we shouldn’t try to measure it). Moreover, we cannot predict the future! So you may start out heading in one direction as a ministry only to be redirected somewhere else by random things that come up. Instead of trying to map everything out however, there’s a better way.  

Compass-Based Planning

Instead of trying to map out every little plan along the way, a better way is to view yourself on a journey with a compass. The general end point of the journey is to “make disciples” but how you get there will often take many different routes. Most importantly, you don’t know the exact way ahead. It’s like you’re making your way through the woods, but you’re not in a park. There are no pre-defined trails for you walk. So what do you do?

You rely on your compass. In leadership, your compass is the goal and the values of your ministry. Your compass will guide you to particular “turning points.” So instead of trying to plan everything out in advance, choose to do ONE thing and then evaluate it to see how it turns out. In other words, walk ahead a ways until you have to a make a decision. Then focus on doing the next thing. And walk a little more until you have to make a decision again. Then focus on doing the next thing. Instead of getting wrapped up in a highly detailed plan for the future, or the year, it may be better to focus on only the next week.

Ask yourself this question: What is ONE thing I can do this week to move my ministry forward?

Then after you accomplish that one thing and see its effect, ask: What is the NEXT thing I should do?

2 thoughts on “You Only Have a Compass, Not a Map

  1. This is great! It reminds me of “Your word is a lamp for my feet (the next step) and a light on my path (compass). ” – Psalm 119:105 CSB (parentheses added)

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