Monday, I discussed something obvious but powerful: Our students’ spiritual “success” in five years is a major evaluation of our ministry today.

Tuesday, I connected the dots a bit: What we aim for this year should be directly connected to our five-year goals for our students.

Today, I jump off of the last few lines of yesterday’s post:

“When you have that target to shoot at, it tells you what you need to be instilling in people’s lives now,” Brad explained.

That’s the kicker, right? We have to make those long-term targets explicit, and then we have to translate them into aims we carry out each year.

The practice of making our aims “explicit,” of getting a concrete list of what we want students knowing, feeling, and doing, is NOT a priority for many college ministers. How do I know? Because I’ve asked them. Nationwide. Lots and lots of times. And very rarely did someone have a ready answer to what they wanted their “finished students” to look like.

(These amazing men and women had lots of awesome ideas and great hopes, and many were seeing great fruit! But they just didn’t seem to be ready for that question.)

And yet isn’t the definition of our aims, prayed through and thought through and repeated over and over, vital to our calling? Doesn’t it give us clarity in what we’ll teach next, conviction as we ask for funds or prayer or volunteers, a better assessment when things seem a bit rocky, focus when success or drama or “options” distract us?

How do we “fulfill the ministry you have received in the Lord,” if we haven’t discerned exactly what that ministry entails – and what it doesn’t?

For many of us, an inquiry about our goals leads to a mumbled list of hopes. We should be ready to proclaim concrete goals, because we’ve already reminded ourselves of them dozens of times.