You get what you measure...


“You get what you measure.” I read that in a book the other day, and I quickly discounted the statement. Then I thought about it some more and realized there is great truth in it.

I used to think I was a good walker. For the last several years I have been very diligent about my walking. About twelve years ago my metabolism changed and I started gaining weight. I resolved to do something about it by walking every day. I sat aside time to walk every day and I stuck to it. I had no way of knowing how far I walked but I was confident it was walking further than most and that as a result of my walking I was in pretty good shape “for my age.”

Then three years ago I received a pedometer. I was excited. I could hardly wait to see how far I was walking. I put my pedometer on that first day; walked about the same number of steps I always did; and to my great disappointment discovered that I was only walking about 6000 steps a day (not even enough steps to get the minimum bonus). With a growing awareness of how little I was actually walking I set a goal of walking 8000 steps a day. By the end of the first year I achieved that goal. I have since raised my goal and then raised it again so that I am now walking 12,000 steps a day, double what I was three years ago. However, it would not have happened if I had not been measuring my steps. The book was right. You really do get what you measure. It doesn’t happen just because you say you want it to happen. You don’t get what you want. you get what you measure.

What do we want in our Annual Conference? We have adopted the mission statement of The United Methodist Church. We have said that we want to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. However, it is not enough just to want that. We have wanted that for a long time, and most of our churches have not done a very good job of achieving it. What we need is a way of measuring whether we are making disciples or not. We need a way of measuring our progress. We need to set goals then work toward achieving them.

That is why the Ministry Leadership Team of our annual conference will soon be sharing with you a series of measures designed to help us measure our progress in making disciples and eventually asking you to set goals for yourselves. Some will argue that disciple making is not about numbers. It is about people. That is true. However the numbers represent people and you get what you measure

Is making disciples for Jesus Christ important to you? Do you want to do a better job of it? As I discovered the hard way it is not enough just to want something. If you want something to increase you need feedback. You need to measure it. Join me in measuring how you’re doing in making disciples. After all, you get what you measure.

Kim Fields
Kim Fields is Assistant to the Bishop and District Superintendent for the Sage District of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.