I am afraid of small things.
As far back as I can remember I have been afraid of small things. In elementary school I was afraid that my muscles were small or generally I was too small. Middle School brought new small fears. Like too small for girls to think I was tough, or too small to play football. High School ushered in the fear that my personality was too small or my SAT score was too small. My phobia continued in college when it came to my intellect, athletic skills, bank account and even my dreams.
Small. Just five simple letters that seem all so big and hairy!
You would think that falling in love with Jesus and getting called to the ministry would cure my “small” phobia, but I think it has only served to inflate it. Doing ministry just added more flavors to my “small” fears.
I was a youth pastor for nearly 20 years and in those years I learned quickly “small” was the word you never said around ministry colleagues. “I work at a small church” or “My youth group is small” were phrases you and to whomever you were sharing them with were code for “He’s not very successful” or “He must be incompetent”.
A small youth group meant that you weren’t experiencing God’s abundance, or that you lacked vision to lead a group to the promised land of milk, honey and high attendance!
I learned early and often in ministry that small was to be avoided at all costs, that it equaled failure and failure equaled fired. My life-long fear had found a whole new level, and now it seemed God was on its side. The church can be a ripe breeding ground for this “BIGGER IS BEST” obsession.
I once worked at a church where we booked large Christian concerts. The first concert was a huge success. Over 2,600 people (mostly teens) attended over two nights of audio overload. One moment from those nights vividly remains in my memory. I was standing in the back of the sanctuary, the band was rocking out, the intelligent lighting was washing over the bumpin' crowd, when my senior pastor walks up to me looks me in the eye and says, “Now this is what it’s all about”.
Those words reminded me of his words the first Sunday I started at the church; He introduced me to the congregation by saying “This is the guy I know will grow this youth ministry to 1,000 kids”. At the time the group was about 35 students!!
On my very first day at the church and in the midst of the rock concert the message was clear, “Grow it big or find a new gig”. No doubt the measuring stick for ministry success was marked in miles not inches and if I wanted to be a somebody, a successful somebody, than I couldn’t reside in SmallTown for long.
Do you hear the same messages?
To be Continued.....