Rick Warren
Rick Warren

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Many leaders never achieve the level of influence they could potentially have because they drift through life on autopilot, maintaining the status quo, without a big ambition. They have no master plan, no big purpose, no dreams pulling them along. But if you’re going to be a great leader, you need to dream great dreams.

When you stop dreaming, you start dying. If you have no goals, you have no growth. God put in your mind the ability to think great thoughts and dream great dreams and have great visions. When you’re stretching and growing and developing, you’re a healthy human being. We grow by being stretched. We grow by facing new challenges. In fact, I would say that if you’re not facing any challenges right now, you need to go find one quick.

There are three common misconceptions that keep people from having a great ambition in life, and these are especially prevalent among pastors and Christian leaders.

We Confuse Humility and Fear

God wants you to be humble, but He does not want you to be fearful. And fear will prevent you from accomplishing meaningful things. Every leader is unique, with an individual makeup of spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, a unique personality and unique experiences. And God’s desire for how a leader will influence the world around them is closely tied to that uniqueness. But however God has uniquely shaped you, you need to desire all the influence He will grant you in your leadership so that you can make as large an impact as possible for the kingdom’s sake.

Humility is not assuming that I can’t be a great leader and have a meaningful impact. That’s fear. And fear will strip us of our ability to do great, world-changing things. Humility is rightly understanding my identity as I am defined by my Creator and my relationship to Jesus. While fear holds us back, genuine humility propels us forward because we believe that we serve a really big God!

We Confuse Contentment With Laziness

In Philippians 4:12, Paul says, “I have learned to be content in every situation.” But that does not mean I don’t have any ambition, that I never set any goals. Many leaders believe that because of this verse, they should never have any goals for their church but should be content with wherever it is. Paul was not saying, “I don’t have any desires about tomorrow. I don’t hope for the future. I don’t have any ambitions.”

As a pastor, you need to learn to be happy while your church is at its current stage of growth. There’s a misconception that says, “Once my church has 300 members (or 500, 2,000, or some other number), then I’ll be happy.” No, you won’t. If you can’t find joy in the place where God has you right now, you won’t be happy as it continues to grow because you’ll always fall into the trap of “when and then” thinking—“When I get such and such, then I’ll be happy.”

On the other hand, if everybody used contentment as an excuse for laziness, who would work intentionally to build churches that reach people? Who would care about world hunger? Who would fight for justice and equality? We cannot confuse contentment and laziness.

We Confuse Little Thinking With Spirituality

Some people use God as an excuse, and Satan is an expert at getting us to think small. There’s the old myth that quality is the opposite of quantity. Actually, they’re both important. In a ministry, you want to reach as many people for Christ as possible, and you want them to grow as deeply as possible.

Don’t confuse little thinking with spirituality. I encourage you in your prayer life to start saying, “God, enlarge my impact.” We who serve a great God should have great expectations of what God can and wants to do in, around and through a surrendered leader.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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