Several years ago in a High Priest meeting, we were talking about setting goals for the Ward. I said that we should never set a goal that takes away somebody else’s free agency as God would not help us meet that type of goal. We were specifically talking about setting a goal for the ward of X number of convert baptisms and I said that was not valid because people have their free agency to accept or reject the gospel (Jesus’s plan that God accepted). I also said that missionaries should not set baptismal goals.

As you can imagine, this did not go over well and I got a lot pushback. My answer was that we can set goals to invite X number of people to church, give out X number of Books of Mormon, and the missionaries can set a goal of inviting X number of people to have a discussions. My argument seems to go over the heads of most of the very TBM members in attendance.

Since that time I have wondered about other goals we should not be setting. Setting a goal of having all our children go on missions, married in the temple, etc. is again taking away their free agency. You can set a goal in your house to talk about missions all the time, have family prayer, talk about the blessings of a temple sealing, in effect laying the ground work for your children to make their own decision.

When is it appropriate to use the carrot and stick approach for getting your children to reach certain goals? Is it OK to tell your kids you’ll pay for their education only if they go to BYU? Is it OK to withhold a drivers license from a boy until he gets his Eagle Scout award? Would it ever be right to threaten to write a child out of your inheritance if they fall away from the church? The church actually recommended that at one time.

We are all familiar with the bad outcomes that happens when a Mission Presidents sets baptism goals. What are other bad outcomes that come to us when we set goals that involve other peoples free agency?

What is your feelings about setting goals as related to church related efforts?