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Someone has said that a rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out. My take-away from this statement is that whether you are in a grave or in a rut, your horizons are limited. It is so easy to become comfortable with the routine and familiar.

One of my greatest challenges is to keep growing and learning. The longer I live and serve in ministry, the more demands are placed upon me. My schedule inflates as my discretionary time erodes. If I am not careful, I find myself meeting the requirements and daily demands but at the expense of my world expansion.

So, I have made a conscious decision, imposing a challenge upon myself to rise above the norm. Whether I am given new assignments or find myself with unreasonable demands, it is my responsibility to have a “growth plan” that forces me to move beyond what is merely expected.  

I am not talking about “positive thinking” or being a “self-made man.” I am not referring to “being all I can be” but “being all that God wants me to be.” I want to reach more people and have more influence, and that requires that I grow in a variety of areas. This means developing new skills so my ministry to others will expand. Daniel and his friends, in the book carrying his name, were referred to as men of God who were “skilled and knowledgeable of their times.”

So what are some practical steps to being a big-picture believer who has a multifaceted growth plan? Here are five starter ideas:

  1. Be a student of the Word. Be consistent in your Bible reading, study and memorization. Don’t talk about daily Quiet Time; practice it.
  2. Read broadly. Push yourself to read books and articles outside your field of ministry and natural interest. Design a reading diet that challenges and expands your world.
  3. Become a good listener and learner. Talk to people outside your normal circle of friends and sphere of interests. You will be amazed how much you can learn from these conversations. When I engage in this practice, I am constantly reminded of how much I don’t know.
  4. Expand your vocabulary. Subscribe to the “word of the day” or something similar. When you read a word or phrase with which you are unfamiliar, look it up. Remember, communication is critical in ministry.
  5. Determine to master your calling. If you are in student ministry, be a student of students. Learn everything humanly possible about them, their culture and their needs. Never fall into the trap of thinking they are just a younger version of you.

This is not an exhaustive list, but perhaps it will ignite your passion for new growth. All of us want to make a difference reaching people with the Good News of the Gospel. Let’s make a commitment to broaden our base of knowledge and do so for the cause of Christ.

The apostle Paul was not referring to compromise in 1 Corinthians 9:22 when he said, “I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” He was talking about scope and depth of life and ministry. This is a big world and it requires leaders with a broad knowledge and big vision to reach it.


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