It’s tradition to make new plans and set new goals at the start of a new year. From home to work to church, families and leaders are asking themselves: “What do I want to do to make this year better than last year? What do I want to do differently?”

Pastors are reflecting on these questions for their churches and congregations as well. So how do pastors successfully set goals for themselves and their ministries?

Here are 5 practical ways pastors can set goals in the New Year, with words of wisdom and encouragement from church leadership experts:

#1 – Pray

“Always start here. Why would you not go to the Lord for His divine guidance? It is critical that you talk to God first, getting clear direction for the steps you need to take in making the change He gives you to make. Without this, you are on your own.”Dick Hardy

#2 – Release Fear

“Whenever I let fear do the talking, hope always loses the argument. But what if we could gag our fears long enough to dream, and then a little longer to turn those dreams into actionable goals that might actually change our lives for the better?”Michael Hyatt

“What should you do when you know something is God’s will but you’re scared to do it? You do it anyway! If you know it’s the right thing, you fight the fear. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s moving ahead in spite of your fear.” -Rick Warren

#3 – Practice Patience

“One of the big mistakes I see pastors and church leaders make is, in the excitement to see change, they try to rush change with people. Don’t do that. When you share vision for the future and impending changes … in the immediate, change nothing.

When you talk with the future in mind, some people put their defenses up. However, if you do not change things immediately after you talk about change, you allow the defenses to drop preparing their hearts for the new thing God has in store for them and the church.” -Dick Hardy

#4 – Plan Intentionally

“Here’s what I know from years of coaching others and my own personal experience: The key reason most of us feel this sense of fear when it comes to goal-setting is that we’ve tried before and failed. But here’s something else I know: It’s not your fault. It’s the fault of a faulty system. The truth is that traditional New Year’s resolutions and goal setting don’t really work.” -Michael Hyatt

“Instead, you have to be intentional, force yourself to get clear on what you want and why it’s important, and then pursue a plan of action that accomplishes your objective.” -Michael Hyatt

#5 – Take Action

“You may be overflowing with vision for your ministry, but there is a point where you have to stop thinking about it and talking about it, and instead, start doing something about it—moving your vision toward a tangible reality. I’ve met thousands of pastors with incredible vision for ministry in their community, but sadly they never got past the thinking stage.

God rarely asks you to take leaps of faith; rather, he encourages you to take small steps that grow larger as your faith grows larger. But you’ve got to take the first step to get to all the other steps!” -Rick Warren

Seeding Success

We all know how challenging it is to be a leader. As church leaders, pastors have an immense responsibility to lead their congregations and to build healthy, thriving churches. They are always supported by God in this work, and yet they must also make time and take time to support themselves and develop their leadership skills. Creating time and space to effectively set goals each new year is one positive step pastors can take to plant seeds of success that can take root, grow, and blossom throughout the year in their church.