A young pastor asked for prayer that his church would grow in numbers. The experienced pastor who was leading the meeting asked, “Why do you want your church to grow?” The young pastor responded, “I don’t know.” The experienced pastor said, “That’s why your church won’t grow.”
Why do you want a big church?
Why do you want to get married?
Why do you want to be famous?
Why do you want many social media followers?
Why do you want more money?
Why do you want the newest phone?
If we cannot answer the why concerning these, then that might be the reason it is not happening. Vision is crucial to our forward movement, but the seed of that vision will determine what kind of life springs from it. If we desire a position or status more than we want to develop a mission and purpose to bring lasting positive impact, then our vision falls flat. Why would God bless a dream that is based on our need for recognition? Kingdom vision starts with generosity, not fear or insecurity. The good news is we can change from position focus to mission focus. Just consider Joseph.
Joseph did not start out well. In his immaturity, he told his brothers and parents his dream that they all would bow down to him. His exclusive focus on a future position caused relational breakdown with the people closest to him. As a young man, he did not see the why for this dream. He fixated on the outcomes in the dream—people bowing to him, acknowledging his greatness, and the power he would experience when those dreams were fulfilled. Later, he understood the true purpose of his promotion was to save his family and his nation.
It is natural to want to be significant and to stand out from the crowd. This vision for significance gives us the drive to succeed and overcome obstacles. We just need to make sure we have a greater heart to serve the needs of others than to appear important.
How do we know if we are motivated by position or mission? One clue is what we envision when we receive a prophetic word that speaks of our increased influence or increased blessing in the future (e.g. writing books, miracles done through us, incredible favor, etc.). Do we first see ourselves in the position of power and prominence or do we first see the people who will be helped and blessed by the result of the word? Are we most excited that people will be “bowing down” to us because we are an important someone, or are we thrilled that we will have a platform to positively influence the world with the mission we have been given by God? The answer to this question reveals how ready we are for God to trust us with increase.
More signs we might be wanting position instead of mission:
We are fixated on how many followers we have compared to others
We are more interested in having certain people affirm us than we are in having a great cause or purpose
We see other people’s success as a threat to our success
There is no condemnation if we discover we are too fixated on having a position. Some pretty influential people have battled this. “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom….And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers” (Matthew 20:20-21,24). Like Joseph, James and John overcame wanting position more than a purpose and, as they did, found a mission that brought incredible meaning to their lives.
Here is how to move from a position-desiring mindset to a mission and purpose mindset:
Recognize servant-leadership is the highest form of leadership (Matthew 20:26)
When hearing a prophetic word, develop the habit of seeing who will be served and blessed through the word (Luke 4:18-19)
Be generous with your gifts and talents, and be willing to serve in secret (Matthew 6:3-4)
Discover your passions and commit yourself to grow in your gifts so many will be helped (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.