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Leadership Traps: #8

#8 Not Wanting to Be Big or Good
So trap #9 was "wanting to be big," but an equal trap is not caring whether we ever become big or good.

I have run into this more times among church leaders than I really want to remember. It’s like we want to disguise a lack of hard work, prayer or simply being smart about what we do as "faithfulness."  It’s as though languishing away in apathetic irrelevance is somehow more godly than a church that is growing and actually reaching people and therefore, say the critics, must have sold its soul. 

God does have a preference for reaching people instead of not reaching people.  He does have a preference for being effective as opposed to ineffective.   Ineffectiveness can also lead to an arrogance of justification… a perverse sense of superiority over those who have seen growth and genuine life change.

I can hear what some of you are saying. Agreed. Just because a leader hasn’t seen the results he or she is hoping for does not necessarily mean that God is not in what they are doing.  Some ministries will always involve a lot of investment for little visible reward. But why do so many people gravitate to that as the default answer as to why their ministries are ineffective?  Too often, leaders are ready to mask incompetence, a lack of diligence or deeper issues under the guise of being "faithful".

At the end of the day, I wonder if these two traps (8 and 9) force us to look deep into a place few of us want to look: into our motivation as leaders.  Some of us are motivated by pride.  Some of us are motivated by a fear of admitting we really don’t want to work intelligently, strategically and prayerfully at the ministry God gave us, or that we may be in the wrong place.

In both cases, the soul-work of honest prayer and introspection is hard.  But the fruit could be great – it might open up room for God to work more effectively in all of us.


  1. Ed on January 28, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Carey these have been insightful and helpful. They have made me think alot and pray about my intentions and motivations bringing everything back to God.

  2. Joey on January 28, 2008 at 7:31 am

    I love seeing those old country churches and learning about the times in which they were built. Those people were so ambitious for Christ – and dreamed big!

    In times when the village had around 200 people living there (who would have been of varying denominations of course) some churches would build seats for 400 people!!! I love that. They were thinking big right from the beginning – of those yet to come.

    Like you said Carey, it is also important to remember those who strive hard, yet who never see the fruits of their labour for Christ pay off in terms of success and numbers.

    I know an old man here in Barrie who was with the China missions of the 1930s and 1940s who had to flee for his life when the communists hunted down all of the Christian missionaries to kill or expel them. He and the others waited for over 40 years to hear if their efforts had paid off. Many died not knowing if Christianity had gained root in China.

    This old gent did live to see the glad day of knowing that China during those dark years actually experienced incredible revival, perhaps the greatest the world has ever known in terms of numbers, thanks to the efforts of men and women like him and the grace of Jesus and the power of God. But not all lived to see that happy day and died thinking they had failed in China. Jesus loves our efforts and us being ambitious for Christ as much as the payoffs that we might see in this world in terms of numbers!

    I know another old, old gent who smuggled bibles into Russia, but that is a whole other story!

    God bless these folks, in earlier times and in our times now, who dare so much for the kingdom of God.

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