Not so smart, apparently…

Back in the days when the typical household only had one TV, and family viewing was encouraged, I used to find myself watching programmes selected by others in my family. With an an older sister and a younger brother, I guess that at least added a little variety to my viewing. I don’t vividly remember any arguments about what we were going to watch, but I do vividly remember some of the programmes. One such “delight” was the Miss World contest. Bear with me here…I promise this won’t turn into a rant about the sexual objectification of women, or bikini styles of the 1960s.

Alongside the semi-naked prancing, wearing too much make-up and a fixed grin, there was an “interview” which was supposed to demonstrate the intelligence of those participating in the contest. One of the questions asked was “if you win the contest, what woudl you like to acheive during your year as Miss World?” Invariably they would respond with something like, “I’d like to find a cure for cancer, bring about world peace an an end to suffering”. I suppose you have to commend them for thinking big if nothing else.

Anyway, back to the real point. As I mentioned earlier I’m currently reflecting on my aims and objectives “as a Christian working with young people” (we can do the whole Youth Ministry vs Youthwork thing another time). I’ve never been great at writing mission statements or setting good objectives, and I recognise that it’s something I need to improve. I think I’m better at feeling these kind of things than expressing them. In my heart I know what I’ve been called to do and I know what I want to achieve – but I struggle when trying to put them on paper. [Don’t worry – I’m not asking you to write them for me.]

I’ve done some reading and made some notes, and then scribbled down a few thoughts and out of that I’m trying to craft four or five objectives. Whilst they “feel” ok as I’m writing them, whenever I try to evaluate them they seem to come up short.

[ As this isn’t a maths exam I won’t be showing you my “working out”, but I will probably publish the final objectives here – if I ever settle on any long enough to type them. ]

I remember being taught that all objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed). I can see how this applies in my professional life to business plans, specific projects and applications, etc., but I’m not sure that you can apply the same method of evaluation to life-goals and long-team objectives.

Here’s one of the objectives I’ve seen expressed recently in relation to Youth Ministry:

to minister to the needs of Young People

How does that measure up using the SMART criteria?

  • Specific? nope, pretty wooly and vague
  • Measurable? nope
  • Achievable? yes, but if you can’t measure it how can you be sure you’ve achieved it?
  • Relevant? yes
  • Timed? nope

So, for the purposes of my own objectives, should I forget the SMART method completely and just express what I feel I’ve been called to do? Obviously I need to ensure that any objectives are theologically sound – otherwise I need to question my calling. Are there any other criteria I should be using? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

In the meantime, some wise words on the subject…

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France

Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they be executed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula K. LeGuin

1 thought on “Not so smart, apparently…”

  1. Interestingly we used to run a training session for volunteers which included SMART targets and I was never so sure.

    However I think you can put certian tangible measures on things in terms of pastoral stuff. For example, I set myself the goal of having quality contact with at least three young people a day. Some days it's easier than others.

    Obviously you don't chart how many deep and meaningful conversations you have or how many young people come to you in crisis but I think it is reasonable to reflect on whether it has happened or not in any given month/year and if not then maybe you need to change something.

    I'd be fascinated to hear what your mission statement might be. A good book called The Path on discovering your personal mission statement.

    Mine came out as:
    "To illuminate, inspire and encourage the gifts of others with my own God-given gifts" not very specific but the lack of the specific interestes me a lot.

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