The meaning of the word intentional is important to a leader. Every leader knows that being intentional is something he’s supposed to be, but what does it really mean? In the purest sense, being intentional means to do things on purpose. You know, the “I meant to do that” kind of approach to your work.
The trouble is, most everything we do is done with some sense of purpose. Rarely do we engage an activity accidentally. We almost always feel we were doing things on purpose. So is that all we really mean by being intentional? Not at all.
When we talk about being intentional, we mean doing things WITH purpose. Now that’s a step beyond the idea of “on purpose.” Acting with purpose means we give significant thought to what we are doing and make sure our actions gel with a bigger picture.
Like the church I visited this weekend. They recently took a missions trip to help an orphanage in Nicaragua. After returning, they are partnering with Latin American Childcare in the region, have planned missions services with LACC missionaries, plan to sponsor several of the children, and intend to work with that same ministry in that same region next year. Rather than just taking an annual missions trip, they are being intentional in their missions project. And achieving wider involvement and a deeper connection as a result.
That same church has committed one Saturday every month this year to work at a girls’ home in their community. They are mobilizing dozens of volunteers each month in a specific target, where they can make a difference, and where their people can begin to find meaningful ways to contribute to something important in their community. The result is a much deeper congregational impact than would be achieved by a dozen different outreach efforts.
Put both of these efforts together and you have an intentional plan for caring for orphans and children in crisis. It all fits together and their intentional effort is making a real difference.
You see, church’s do a lot of stuff. We have numerous activities and places to be involved. We have programs for all ages and outreach ministries by the dozen. But when things don’t fit together, we aren’t being truly intentional, at least by our deeper definition of the word. Simply doing a bunch of things becomes scattered and exhausting after awhile, and it’s difficult to maintain a clear sense of “why” when we’re just busy with a lot of things. But when we are intentional in our efforts, we are typically more efficient and effective.
Did you know that many small churches have more things going on than larger congregations? How can that be? Well, small churches try to do everything they can think to do, while many larger churches have mastered the wisdom of doing a few things very well. They are determined to be intentional and end up experiencing the exponential benefits of such planning.
Less can be more if we are intentional in our efforts. To start, rediscover the “why” of everything you do. The ask, which of these efforts is really fulfilling that “why” best. Once you see that shorter list, start funneling your effort and resources in these most effective ways and see what begins to emerge. The wonderful thing about being intentional is you don’t wear people out as quickly and you’re able to become really good at a few things. And the more you do what you do well, the more you will want to do it!
Remember, being intentional means more than just doing things ON purpose. It means doing everything WITH purpose.