I think if we’re honest with ourselves we’d have to admit that we all want to do something great for God. When I was 21, newly married and new to the ministry I can remember laying on my back in bed with Ellen and saying, “Before I die I want to do something great for God…something significant.” For us that meant planting a church. For me (I’m sure Ellen cared little about what I’m about to confess) that meant not just starting a new church…but a church that would be big.
As you know, our western culture equates “great” with size, numbers, applause, etc. It’s hard for us not to be influenced by this.
Not too long ago I read an interesting book, “A Monk’s Alphabet” by Fr. Jeremy Driscoll. In a paragraph entitled Great he says, ”Great, the illusion that there is something important to do with one’s life! Oh yes, I understand the point. Life is glorious, and we are marvelously made. But perhaps it is a question of the approach. When someone sets out to do great things, how much is accomplished really, and at what exorbitant prices? Maybe it is better to let go of the focus on great things as a goal, to live with hope placed in heaven, and then use well whatever time we find at our disposal. With the optic of that new amazement, something great may be done. But “great” will never mean a great me, a me that is marvelous and outlasts the short span of a lifetime. “Great” may mean something good done for others, something of value left behind. But I will vanish more and more. That is how it is, and with an act of faith and trust, I say also that this is how it should be.”
When was the last time you heard someone talk about another pastor who had a “great” church and that church was also small? That doesn’t happen too often does it? We’ve been conditioned to define great with size. I bet some of you reading this feel that you are doing nothing that could be called great…mostly because your church is so small. Don’t you believe it! The church down the street might very well have more paid staff than you have in your entire congregation but that doesn’t mean in the eyes of God they are any more great than your church is.
You have been called to be a great pastor, great in character, great in your soul, great in love, great in faithfulness to your family and your calling. If that is not enough for you than maybe you need to get away for some reflection to discover why. You are called to do something great, but it’s more a call to be something great…an inward greatness fed and developed by intimacy with Jesus. Your church is called to be a great church but that is not dependant upon size. A small church can be a great church. If you are a faithful pastor to your people, no matter how many of them there are, you are doing something great.
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