One of the hardest things I’ve found about ministry is balancing the tension between where we want our churches to be, and where we they currently are.
I’m a firm believer that having clear, strong, and bold visions for our churches is 100% essential if we want to have growing and lasting impact in our communities and cities. But, we can be so focused on where we want to be, that we want to get there too quick and we become bent on seeing instant results NOW… when that happens the joy that can be found in the journey is stolen from us.
It’s easy to fall into this dangerous place – that ugly place where we want results NOW. It becomes an obsession. This obsession breeds discontent. This can be a poison for you, and it can be a poison for your teams.
We start to watch weekly attendance and expect it to grow each week. And when attendance isn’t consistency rising we ask, “What are we missing?” Or, “What are we doing wrong?”
Baptisms, first time decisions for Jesus, giving, team growth, leadership development, or whatever other metrics you use and watch closely… these things can torture your mind when you are obsessed with instant results. I’ve experienced this, and I’ve seen this in leaders that I’ve crossed paths with over the years.
I’ve seen leaders over the years so discontent with the NOW that they have left jobs and abandoned callings because of the discontent that grew inside them.
I heard Rick Warren say this a few years back,
“God takes 6 hours to grow a mushroom and 60 years to grow an oak tree.”
After 12 years of slugging it out in the trenches of full time ministry, this past year, I finally came to a place where I am experiencing total joy in watching God slowly grow his oak tree – and I am grateful that he has chosen to let me tag along in the journey.
I have learned that faithfulness to our calling leads to health in our churches, and that health leads to growth. The pace and timing of that growth is not my job to worry about – It’s God’s job.
Define your metrics, be very aware of trends and growth in your church, but if you let those numbers own your mind, they end up weighing heavy on your soul. Discover the joy in the journey and buckle up for the long haul.
Be faithful to your calling, do your job, and let God do his.