Why we need common goals — The gospel according to soccer: Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we discussed how soccer can provide insight into many areas of our lives and why it’s important for anyone in working cross-culturally to become fluent in the world’s most universally spoken language. Today we’re going to dive into the first lesson that soccer can teach us about leadership, teamwork, and collaboration in church ministry and orphan care (and other areas of our lives).

This lesson is first for a reason, as it provides a foundation for many of the other lessons we’re going to learn. It needs to happen before any team can work together effectively. So, without further ado, here it is:

Lesson #1: All great soccer teams are unified by common, well-defined goals and success measures.


A team performing at its highest level requires a whole lot of people unified in common, well-defined goals, working together to achieve commonly-defined success and excellence. Though not always, success and excellence is usually defined in terms of winning a championship, such as the World Cup. Without well-defined goals and success measures, a team likely will have a lot of internal conflict, be very inefficient, and will not attain excellence.

Think about what it would look like if a soccer team had a bunch of players with different goals or ill-defined goals, and they didn’t communicate with each other about what those goals actually are. Instead, they assume that they’re all on the same page.

over35menleague4What if some of the players defined success as winning the World Cup, others defined it as winning a couple of games, and others simply defined success as getting a good workout and not getting hurt—which incidentally are my goals when I play in my over-35 league.

Such a team would not win the World Cup without divine intervention, and a lot of it.

And such a team would have a lot of internal conflict.

Women's World CupAmong other things, the guys dreaming of winning the World Cup would get upset at the other players because they are “slackers” who aren’t working hard enough, and the “over-35 guys” would be thinking that the other players were taking it way too seriously and working way too hard. Winning a World Cup requires much more training, commitment, teamwork, and demands a much higher level of excellence than a bunch of old men playing together once a week for some exercise, fun, and post-game “rituals” at the local pubs.

Essentially, for a team to actually work together as a team and reach its full potential, it absolutely needs to be on the same page as to its goals and measures of success.

The team doesn’t need to agree on everything—just the important, foundational things . . . like whether winning or beer runs are more important to the players. Agreeing on the things foundational to the team’s success will lead to each team member using his or her gifts, talents, passions, and methods to do all the other things necessary to pursue those goals. And the level of excellence in their performance will be determined by the goals and success measures.

So, “What’s this got to do with churches and orphan care?”

Do you think that the orphan care movement has well-defined, common goals, and success measures?

If not, do you think the lack thereof has an impact on the effectiveness of the movement?

Leave a comment with your thoughts and next week we’ll tackle these questions together.