You may be overflowing with vision for your ministry, but there is a point where you have to stop thinking about it and talking about it, and instead, start doing something about it—moving your vision toward a tangible reality. I’ve met thousands of pastors with incredible vision for ministry in their community, but sadly they never got past the thinking stage.
What good is a vision when it stays stuck in your head? Or if it languishes in the “talk stage” and never launches into the sea of faithful action? The vision behind Saddleback Church would be nothing more than that—a vision—without the steps of faith taken to plant, and then grow, the church.
God rarely asks you to take leaps of faith; rather, he encourages you to take small steps that grow larger as your faith grows larger.
But you’ve got to take the first step to get to all the other steps!
In the opening chapters of Joshua, the Israelites faced a faith-step: They stood just across the Jordan River from the Promised Land, a vision of home burned into their hearts during 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Their new leader, Joshua, instructed them to prepare to cross the river. It was time to take the plunge—literally.
The Jordan is not a very big river—it’s only about 100 feet wide and 20 feet deep—except in flood season. Can you guess when God wanted the Israelites to cross the river? It was just as the spring weather was melting snow off the mountains, turning the Jordan into a giant, rushing, torrential, dangerous river.
God put them there in a moment when the crossing seemed impossible!
The nation’s spiritual leaders began to walk into the water. And God did a miracle, damming the water about 17 miles upstream. The waters receded, and the Israelites crossed over the river.
God has given you a vision for ministry, but there’s a Jordan River in your path; what barrier stands in your way?
The first step is always the hardest. What should you do when you know something is God’s will but you’re scared to do it?
You do it anyway!
If you know it’s the right thing, you fight the fear. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s moving ahead in spite of your fear.
Once you make that first step, more faith will come.
You can start small, but you must start. That’s the key—the first step. It’s been my experience that the first step toward fulfilling a vision is always the hardest, but it’s also the most important because it forces you to face your fears and move beyond them.
It doesn’t have to be a big step, but it does have to be taken. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (NLT).
Consider the testimony of Karen, a Saddleback member:
Several years ago God planted the seeds of a dream in my heart. I imagined our church family having a ministry to match the professionals of our church with those who needed help but couldn’t afford to pay for it. I figured our church was filled with mechanics and dentists and tax preparers and electricians and others who could use their abilities to serve God by serving others in our church family.
It was a great dream, but my mind was filled with doubt. I thought, Who am I to organize this ministry? I’m no Bible scholar. I’ve never taught Sunday school. Who would trust me with this enormous responsibility?
Fortunately, I had the encouragement of a great small group. Through their prayers and mine, I became convinced that God wanted me to turn this dream into a reality. I decided to take the plunge. I decided that even though I had lots of imperfections—and I sure didn’t have all the problems worked out—I couldn’t keep waiting until I was perfect to start serving God through this vision. So I took the next two months to refine and finalize my ministry idea.
As I look back at what God has done, I’m amazed that so many lives have been blessed simply because I acted on an idea that God gave me rather than sitting on it and making excuses. I’m also amazed at how quickly God expanded my idea beyond what I originally imagined. In less than one year, I went from being a passive weekend attender to leading a Saddleback ministry that uses the skills of hundreds of members. God evidently knew I had the ability to lead even when I didn’t know it.
My dream never would have happened unless I launched out in faith. Perhaps God has given you an idea. I encourage you: Let him stretch you. Step out in faith now. You will be so blessed.
Imagine what God will do in your ministry as you take your next step of faith.
As Ephesians 3:20 says, “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (The Message).