I love routine. And I hate change. But change is inevitable in life and essential for effective leadership and ministry.
It seems that every year, I expect that things will continue much as they did last year. I think that my children will stay the same size, my leadership skills can remain the same, and the challenges I will face this year will be roughly similar to ones I faced before. But that just has never proven to be the case.
In which case, I, like you, am faced with the realization that in order to be the right kind of Christian, father, husband, and church planter, I must continue to grow. I need to grow in my love for the Lord, my love for my wife, my wisdom as a parent, my skill as a discipler, and my knowledge and skill as a church leader and a preacher.
All of this growth is hard. And, to be bluntly honest, I don’t like it. I want to be comfortable. I don’t really want to change. I don’t want to admit that I need to grow and adapt. Maybe you can identify.
So, on the subject of growth and change, let me offer a few things I am learning:
- Growth is essential if we are going to reach the world with the gospel. The world has lots of people and to reach all of them, we are going to have to grow in our capacity to lead, to disciple, and to train others. We simply cannot settle for just having a full church or getting a good salary. We cannot rest until we have done all we can to reach the entire world with the gospel. That means pressing on to the next towns, the next church plant, the next disciple, the next evangelistic push, etc.
- Growth is hard because of pride. Most of us learn just enough to be comfortable and then we want to stop learning. We don’t want to keep pressing on into unchartered waters in our ministry, our vision, and our leadership. That scares us and we might look silly, so we stay comfortable and stop growing. But if we were humble, we would ask questions, read books, allow friends and mentors to speak into our life. We would readily admit we don’t know what we are doing, and we would grow.
- Growth happens slower in isolation. Some people may be able to go into a room, read a bunch of books, and emerge a genius, but most of us need others challenging us, questioning us, teaching us, and provoking us to love and to good works. That, I think, is the whole point of Hebrews 10:24-25. We are commanded to assemble together so that we can exhort one another and provoke one another to love and good works. So, we need to get around those who are growing, who have a vision, and who are going to challenge us to do more. If someone’s faith and vision make us uncomfortable, then that is probably the person we need to be listening to.
- Growth is possible. 2 Peter 3:18 says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” We are commanded to grow, so God expects it and so should we. We should expect and plan for growth in our ministries, our churches, our faith, our families, and our ability to give glory to God. When we hit a wall or when we feel we have reached the limits of our ability, that is a great opportunity for us to look to the Lord for the grace to do the next thing he has for us.
So if you are like me and you feel overwhelmed and under-equipped to do the things God has for you, look to the Lord for His help. Trust in Him. Let Him teach you. Let others help you and train you. Ask questions. Repent of your pride. Stop saying you can’t. Instead, believe that you can do all things through Christ which strengthens you. And the Lord will sustain you as you take the next step He has for you.