Thursday, April 16, 2009


Tony Dungy in his most recent book, Uncommon, shares the following story:

Matt Emmons is a world-champion marksman. In the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, he had a significant lead when he entered the final round of the 50-meter, three position rifle competition. He hit the bull’s-eye on his three shots, then looked on, puzzled, as the automatic scoring system did not credit his shots. He called the judge over, and the target was pulled in to ascertain just what had occurred. It was untouched. No holes.

The target in the next lane, however, had three extra holes—holes made by Matt’s shots. His mistake cost him in the standings, and he finished eighth (p125).

This illustrates a mistake many leaders make: We are making bull’s-eyes, but are hitting the wrong target. What leaders neglect to see is that hitting the bull’s-eye on the wrong target is still a miss. A bull’s-eye is only part of the effectiveness equation, right targets are the other part. What might leaders do to ensure their bull’s-eye is on the correct target?

Clarify the target you want to hit: It is easy to assume the target you are taking aim is correct. Often this is a result of it being the target others have taken aim. Someone else’s target may not be yours. Simply because another organization or church is aiming at a target does not mean you should. Try to avoid getting so focused on hitting the center that you neglect to notice if it is the right center. Could it have been that if Matt had taken an extra moment he might have noticed the target he was aiming already had holes? I don’t know, but I do know that if we take time to consider the targets we are aiming, will help us in determining if it is right for us.

Consider the ramifications of hitting the wrong target: The wrong target cost Matt first pace. Those of us who are engaged in ministry it could cost much more. Hitting the wrong target could result in people not being engaged for the gospel. Hitting the wrong target could mean ineffectiveness in helping people experience life change. We can get so focused on the target of appeasing members and developing internalized programs that we neglect the target of community engagement and contextualizing the gospel.

Confirm the target once you have hit it: I understand in military planning that once the first bullet flies all things change. This can happen in ministry. We focus on the correct target and then shoot. Could be that once the first shot is fired, things change. We need to step back and confirm what we are doing. It is easy to experience missional drift. We can quickly get off task. If the ministry being implementing is not achieving its intended purpose, stop!

Change aim when necessary: Why is it when the church makes necessary changes we view it as failure? This viewpoint often keeps us from making the changes. When we change our aim, or how we are doing ministry, this is not a failure. It could be just the opposite. It could be the first step toward greater effectiveness.

Celebrate the wins: When the right target is hit…CELEBRATE! A few days ago the NCAA Champion celebrated at center court. They did it unabashedly and full throttle. Why not do the same when we are hitting the bull’s-eye on the right target.

Are you making bull’s-eyes? Is the bull’s-eye on the correct target? If so…keeping practicing your aim. If not…adjust!

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