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. ...

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