Jump directly to the content

Already a subscriber?

Home > Issues > 2012 > Fall > Fireworks or a Candle?

FirstPreviousPage 2 of 3NextLast

"It could cause us to laugh if it wasn't so sad, my son. These burned pieces of cardboard reminded me of too many people who were amazing or a short time but then ended up as burned-up cinders. Charismatic people, lofty preachers, men and women who sing like angels or make music worthy of the stars … but after being amazing, they disappear or blacken with soot those who came looking for more from them.

"Yes"—he repeated with a growing tone of sadness—"there are too many who from a distance amaze people, but up close they only tarnish."

My old pastor once again stuck his hand inside the wooden box, and this time he took out a simple white candle.

"Would you turn the light off, please?"

I flicked the switch, and the room went dark. My old pastor lit a match and lit the candle with it, whose flame stood straight up.

"This is better," he said. "Do you see it? This little flame … this orange point that can't even be seen during the day becomes a beacon for seafarers so they can make course corrections when it's dark out. Can you appreciate how this simple light has overcome the darkness? It will not amaze anyone, but it will be able to push back the darkness."

I realized the candle represents the hundreds of men and women who by simple, subtle, and inconspicuous acts bring about change and turn on lights in their community.

Don't focus on what astonishes, but rather what transforms. Don't let yourself be impressed by fireworks that amaze people for 15 minutes and then leave them tarnished. Look for something deeper. Don't make it your goal to amaze your audience. Don't rest until you are sure that your ministry crosses the frontier of the soul and touches the spirit, the place where change is accomplished.

FirstPreviousPage 2 of 3NextLast

From Issue:Ministry's Core, Fall 2012 | Posted: December 10, 2012

Also in this Issue: Fall 2012

The 5 Main Things

The 5 Main ThingsSubscriber Access Only

Keeping the main thing the main thing.
What Good Shepherds Don't Do

What Good Shepherds Don't Do

When tending becomes controlling, we've overstepped our role.
Pixelate That!

Pixelate That!Subscriber Access Only

Dramatic rise in broadcast nudity.
Facing a Faction

Facing a FactionSubscriber Access Only

Avoid being ousted by a group of disgruntled members.

Subscribe to read more

Subscribe Today!

  • Monthly issues on web and iPad
  • Web exclusives and archives on Leadership Journal.net
  • Quarterly print issues

Print subscriber? Activate your online account for complete access.

Join the Conversation

Average User Rating:

Displaying 2–5 of 5 comments

Li Carreon

December 11, 2012  8:37pm

superb! What a wonderful day to start reading these kind of stories. It reminds me of so many things and thank God for the Pastor HE had given to take care of my spirituality. God bless all the Pastors who truly love GOD more than their lives and wisely guides the weak in spirit.

Report Abuse


December 11, 2012  1:24pm

I love the metaphor, and I've striven too many times for the firework effect when what's needed is the candle's glow.

Report Abuse

Anna Marone

December 11, 2012  12:33pm

When I think of a christian that has seemingly gone down, Then I think of the Dunamis power that resides within him , that power is divine the same power that was in Jesus when God raised him from the dead ,that same power resides in the believer , nothing could hold Jesus down and nothing can hold the believer down.

Report Abuse

MH Constantine

December 10, 2012  11:09pm

A beautiful story with a very poignant application. My only other thought is that sometimes, when the burned up servants will allow it, God takes those burned lives and turns them into candles. Grace at work again!

Report Abuse
Use your Leadership Journal login to easily comment and rate this article.
Not part of the community? Subscribe, or on public pages, register for a free account.
Reader's Pick
Missional Living in a Fraternity

Missional Living in a Fraternity

What it takes to go with Jesus into unlikely parts of the world.
Sister Sites