Pastoring my first church, things were going rather well, I thought. Perhaps that contributed to my hubris as I stood in the pulpit one Sunday morning and told the church that God wanted us to commit to a wonderful missions project that would cost $6,000 over and above our budget. The money would have to be gathered within a month, I told them, and I was grateful in advance for what they were going to do.

Somewhere I'd heard that visionaries do this sort of thing … and that people love it.

Walking into the church's board meeting the next night, I honestly expected to be affirmed for my bold leadership. So I was taken off guard when the chairman opened the meeting and immediately turned to Ernest Krost, the highly respected 75-year-old father-figure of the congregation.

"Mr. Krost has a comment," the chairman said.

"Brother Gordon," he said, "I have a rebuke for you."

As I sucked in my breath, Mr. Krost began: "You may have thought that your announcement yesterday morning was a worthy cause. But this board wants you to never again go to this congregation and ask for money without consulting us first.

"We want to stand with you in your leadership, but we cannot do it when you surprise us the way you did yesterday. We have a budget in this church, and we can always expand it if God wills. But you are not permitted to do that by yourself.

"Now we will back you on this project, but we will only do so this one time. Have you heard what I have said?"

I heard him, and told him so. And I never played the role of solo-visionary again.

When I was a 16 year old, a track coach had told me, "It looks to me as if you will always have to learn things the hard way." This on the heels of a defeat in a race I should have won if I had followed the coach's ...

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Fall 2002: Generosity  | Posted
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