Jesus stated a key principle for those who would be teachers in the new covenant age: “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matthew 13:52) For my generation, new is fun and exciting, and the old is just… old. But there are some good reasons to continue to build upon what God has already showed us and what we have already been doing in the past.
A big vision is only accomplished with perseverance
A good friend of mine who planted a church I attended as a college student told an amusing story about his young children. In order to learn more about how seeds grow into plants, his children were given a paper cup, some potting soil, and a seed to place in the soil. They were told that if they watered the soil and put it in good sunlight, it would begin to grow in a few weeks. But his kids were so excited to check on the progress of the seed that they dug it up every morning to see how it was coming along! Needless to say, the seed never germinated.
Many of us dig up the seeds of our careers, our relationships, our churches, and our personal disciplines so often that we never really experience significant fruit in any area of our lives. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, brought to popular attention the body of research suggesting that it takes about 10,000 hours of disciplined practice to achieve expertise in just about anything.
On another front, Rick Warren, before he became the senior pastor of Saddleback Church, did extensive research on many of the largest churches in the United States. He describes his key finding in his book The Purpose Driven Church:
Healthy, large churches are led by pastors who have been there a long time. I found dozens of examples. A long pastorate does not guarantee a church will grow, but changing pastors every few years guarantees a church won’t grow.
God wants us to make a deep impact in our communities, our workplaces, and our families. But this probably won’t happen overnight. So in 2014, let’s make the unexciting decision to continue to persevere in some of the things we committed to in 2013.