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Driven or Called?

Driven or Called?

By Josh Staton

We recently wrapped up our 2013 City Collective Annual Gathering, and one of the highlights for most of us who helped at the event was the ministry time of prayer, confession, and encounter with God that happened after one of the sessions. One of the things that defined the time was the need for people to be relieved of the expectations and pressures of having to prove results in the kingdom of God—feeling the pressure to have a successful church plant, to raise funds, to see people coming to Christ, to raise up leaders, to make things happen, and to feel like their ministry has momentum and fruit.

One of the harmful consequences when this pressure begins to become the defining reality of our hearts is we shift away from a sense of calling to a sense of driven-ness. Calling comes with empowerment and obedience brings sustainability; but being driven slowly poisons grace, and we can exhaust ourselves trying to accomplish things God never asked us to do. I was reminded of the excellent “test” of drivenness that Gordon MacDonald mentions in his pivotal book, Ordering Your Private World. MacDonald lists eight characteristics of a driven person. I have added a few questions that may help reveal the reality of this worldly sense of driven-ness in our lives.

  1. A driven person is most often gratified only by accomplishment.
    Am I measuring my value as a person based on my latest sermon, meeting, number of locations, attendance, staff, or recognition? Am I delighting in how God is changing people, or how people are changing the profile of our church?

  2. A driven person is preoccupied with the symbols of accomplishment.
    Do I continually obsess over our social media presence? The quality of website and videos? The people who are noticing our work? Do I feel a need to be recognized by my peers in the city I serve?

  3. A driven person is usually caught in the uncontrolled pursuit of expansion.
    Am I moving things forward so I can say that we are moving things forward, or because this is the Spirit-led, wise, healthy, next step for our community and mission?

  4. Driven people tend to have a limited regard for integrity.
    Am I cutting corners under the guise of effectiveness and impact? Am I exaggerating, lying, or telling partial truths to paint a better picture than is actually happening. Am I emotionally attaching myself to things of people to medicate my loneliness, fatigue or exhaustion?

  5. Driven people are not likely to bother themselves with the honing of people skills.
    Am I using people to build my church, or is our church being used to build people? Am I defensive, inaccessible, or stand offish to those who cannot help build our ministry in a tangible way?

  6. Driven people tend to be highly competitive.
    Am I constantly visiting other churches’ websites to compare how we are doing against them? When other people speak well of other churches, am I sliding in comments that undermine their credibility? Am I judging others motives and ministries in ways that are based on jealousy of their recognition and success?

  7. A driven person often possesses a volcanic force of anger, which can erupt anytime he senses opposition or disloyalty.
    Am I kind to people in our community, but venting or exploding to my spouse or children? How do I speak about people who leave my community for another church? Do I handle criticism with humility, searching for the kernel of truth, or push back in hostility?

  8. Driven people are usually abnormally busy, and averse to play, and usually avoid spiritual worship.
    Do I enter worship gatherings thinking about what needs to be done, or improved, or can I sit and enjoy the presence of God? Am I doing devotions as sermon prep, or building a secret walk, in the secret place that only the Father and I know about? Am I sabotaging Sabbath to accomplish more? Do my spouse and children find me enjoyable to be around, or snappy and irritable?

Most of us do, or have wrestled with a tendency toward being driven. It wears us out, drains our marriages, robs us of joy, is fueled by human gifts and ambition, and leaves a trail of used people in its wake. Are any of these descriptions true of you? Did God highlight something in your heart through any of these questions? Do you need to talk about these things with your staff and leaders, and maybe confess?

God has something better for us than human driven-ness, and it's divine calling. We will unpack what that looks like in the next post.