I have been reading a great, classic book on leadership by John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You. The book is excellent (click here for a summary), but one part really made me question the author’s intentions. Was he trying to depress me?
In the 10th chapter, “Staff Development,” Maxwell decided to share with us a time when he took stock of his life. He went on to list what he was doing by the time he’d reached the ripe old age of 40 (I guess that’s because life’s about over by then?).
“When I turned forty,” Maxwell said, “I began to review my life. I made a list of all the things I was doing at that time.” Get that! At “that” time! Not what he had accomplished in his whole life, but what he was doing “at that time.” His list included (and I quote):
- senior pastor of a congregation of 3,500 attenders;
- oversight and development of thirteen pastors;
- president of Injoy, Inc., a company that develops resource materials for thousands of people;
- a national and internaional speaking schedule with over four hundred engagements annually;
- producing a monthly leadership tape for Injoy Life Club subscribers;
- writing a book every eighteen months;
- working on another education degree;
- and most important – taking enough time for my wife, Margaret, and our two children, Elizabeth and Joel Porter. - Dr. John C. Maxwell, 179-180
Give me a break! Are you kidding me? I’m nearly 45 and I’ve never had an international speaking schedule or even written one book! Good grief, John!
Bigger and Better
Today’s culture is all about “bigger and better.” Many people even think about churches in that way, too – the bigger the better. But is that really the case? Is bigger always better?
It may be news to some of you, but pastors sometimes get discouraged when they compare the sizes of their ministries to those of people like Dr. Maxwell. Instead of 3,500 attendees, most pastors lead churches with only 35 in attendance (1/100th). Does that make them failures? Of course not.
Don’t misunderstand, if a congregation is small because it refuses to follow God’s will, then that’s one thing. However, most churches are not mega-churches with coffee shops and book stores. As a matter of fact, most congregations average 100 or less. And that’s OK.
I am encouraged by a little-talked-about Greek word, poimnion(ποίμνιον). Jesus used it when he spoke to the disciples in Luke 12:32, “Fear not, little flock (poimnion); for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Paul used it when he said to the elders of the church in Ephesus, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock (poimnion), over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers…” (Acts 20:28). In both instances the idea was not that of a mega-church, but of small groups of believers.
Pastor, God knows where you are. He has you right where He wants you. Don’t get discouraged when you see larger congregations. The King has need of shepherds He can trust to watch over the “little flocks” in His fields.
Do you ever get discouraged? Do you ever feel life has passed you by? There’s still time to make a difference. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13).
- John C. Maxwell – Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently (henkjanvanderklis.nl)
- Mega-Church Downsizes – Cuts Non-Essential Members (markconner.typepad.com)