Jun 26, 2011
neil

How to eat an elephant

The danger of attending conferences (I’ve just come back from the Evangelical Ministry Assembly in London) is that you  return home in awe of certain leaders.  You wish you had the ability, the insight, the godliness and the gifting of those who were invited to speak  and the conclusion you are tempted to reach is that there really are a very few people capable of achieving great things for God.

Thom Rainer studied the growth of nearly 300 churches and set out his conclusions in High Expectations: The remarkable secret for keeping people in your church.  His conclusions challenge the assumption that only exceptionally gifted leaders grow exceptional churches.

Rainer argues that it is true that we should recognise that there really are some exception leaders out there. But we also need to celebrate the fact that God grows his church through the faithful leadership of ordinary pastors willing to persevere in their situations and grow their churches one small step at a time.

Here is the big take home for me:

Most successful leaders have learned to eat elephants.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You are willing to make incremental gains which result in long-term blessings.

From the inside the growth and progress can look painfully slow. But for ministers who are faithful and are willing to persevere their ministries can be very fruitful.

The secret then is not to try and be something you’re not or to spend your time wishing you were other than the leader God has gifted you to be but to be faithful and persevere because it is God who gives the growth!

In the study of growing churches Rainer comments of their leaders;

They had a long-term perspective of their ministries where they presently served. Though they were always open to the will of God, they did not try to leave every time a problem developed. They did not suffer from the “greener-grass syndrome.”

These leaders were persistent. They did not give up easily. They were willing to take two steps backward to go three steps forward.

We may not be able to expound the Scriptures like Vaughan Roberts or have the insights of Tim Keller but as the apostle Paul writes

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential.

Why so? Because that is the way God delights to work, therefore;

“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord”

1 Comment

  • Excellent thoughts. The desire to be great in and of itself is wrong-headed – what the scriptures characterize as sin. But it is very hard not to want to be great in other people’s eyes.

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