Choosing the Kingdom Path
Gary Hoag, Scott Rodin, and Wesley Willmer challenge churches and ministries to recalculate the route for Christ-centered ministry by examining the presuppositions that drive decision-making and vision casting. They contend that the way churches and ministries define success will shape what they say, think, and do. As a result, it’s imperative that churches and ministries define success not by what the world says, but by what the Word of God says. In their challenging and encouraging book, The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes, the authors examine the three temptations we face in defining success within our churches and ministries.
1) The Temptation of Control. Our culture encourages us to operate from a place of control in all possible areas. When we attempt to control the outcomes of our ministries, we run the risk of stepping into the place that belongs to God. Instead, we should be “focusing on obedience in the little things, trusting in God rather than taking control, and waiting on the Lord’s bigger picture to unfold—[these three kingdom values] call us to a place of continually seeking the Spirit’s leading and following His guidance even when it feels like that is the last thing we should do.” (ch. 3) We must learn to live and work in complete dependence on God, even if that means trusting that His plan is something other than onward and upward. Where can you better exhibit dependence on God instead of control?
2) The Temptation of Idolatry. Are we more likely to trust in the things we can see or in the God of creation? Whenever we find ourselves in need it is easy to turn to money and possessions to solve our problems instead of the Father. This is the temptation of idolatry. “We are guilty of this sin when we trust in what we can see rather than in God, whom we cannot see. Our idols are whatever we depend on in place of God.” (ch.2) Where we run in a time of need reveals our hearts’ condition and what it is we worship. We need to be careful of putting our trust in anything other than God. When we put our trust in God we become more willing to put our financial resources to work instead of holding them for an unknown future. God is our safety net, not our reserves. God’s presence and work are what make our churches and ministries successful, not bigger budgets or bank accounts. How have you placed your trust in things other than God? How can you move toward trusting God instead of those things?
3) The Temptation of Pride. Our identity rests in Jesus, but it is easy to desire affirmation and praise from others. The temptation to seek affirmation can lead us to compromise as leaders in churches and ministries. This temptation can also lead to measuring success by earthly standards of success which results in focusing on measurements and goals that lead to outward praise but may not glorify God. This can drive us to focus on and pursue the wrong things. “[W]hen success is measured in terms of church growth and ministry expansion along the common path, churches and ministries hire production-driven leaders who implement expansion-focused strategies measured by earthly oriented metrics in a culture of results-based management and a utilitarian view of resources.” (ch. 5) This temptation of pride can lead to our justification of practices and ideas that raise ourselves up but fail to seek the things of God. How have you fallen prey to the temptation to pursue affirmation of the world along the common path instead of affirmation of God along the narrow path?
To learn more about choosing the Kingdom path in leading your ministry, see the following resources:
Hoag, Gary G., Rodin, R. Scott, and Willmer, Wesley K. (2014). The Choice: The Christ-centered pursuit of Kingdom outcomes. Winchester, AV: ECFA Press.
Sanders, J. Oswald (2007). Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer. Chicago: Moody.
Ingram, Chip (2002). Holy Ambition. Chicago: Moody.