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Goals and Growth

September 22, 2009

boston_celtics_logoIf I told you my goal growing up was to be a 6’ 4” shooting guard for the Boston Celtics, kind of a shorter Larry Bird (I think I could have the ‘stash for it), you would tell me I failed. I have good and bad days shooting the basketball but I’m not close to 6’4”.

I have reached my five year anniversary at New Heights Church, or at least close enough to call it five years. I started November 1 of 2004. When I came I believed God wanted me to commit to the work for five years. With those five years coming to an end I have been reflecting on the past five years recently.

Can I be honest? It has been tough. You see when I came to New Heights I really liked their attitude about reaching out to the community. I found something attractive, dare I say biblical, about the idea of trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus for the world that surrounds us.

If I am being totally straight I would tell you that I believed a lot of people would find it attractive. I believed a lot of Christians would say, “Ya that is what Christianity is supposed to be about, I have been looking for a church like that.” These inspired believers would come together and because they loved the vision of the church they would reach out to the poor, the widow and orphan, the alien, and we would see people join the kingdom of God because of it.

We would grow because people bring people. I guess I thought that after five years we would be a further along on that road, closer to 6’4” if you understand where I am going.

No, Christians didn’t come and say we love what you are doing and we have dreamed about a place with such a focus. The majority have come and asked us to explain what we would do for them. They made pleasant about all we did for the community and we never saw them again. They looked to see how many kids were the same ages as their own. They had questions about denominational background, style of worship and even if it is okay to laugh during church, but not many made their choice because they wanted to impact the world.

To be truthful it has made for a hard few weeks, reconciling the vision of pushing out as God’s Kingdom with my goals. At times I have wondered if I am doing something wrong. Maybe I’m not cut out to lead. Maybe my sermons stink. Maybe I am the problem. Maybe I should be doing something else because we don’t seem to be meeting my mental goals.

God has shown me a lot about goals. When I went into ministry he asked that I follow nothing more or less.

In the end I had a view of where I would be. If I had really dreamed of being a 6’4” point guard for the Boston Celtics what would have happened since I never reached 6’4”? Would I be satisfied with almost 6’1”? Would I be satisfied with being the tallest of the three Hamm boys? That doesn’t even get us to my level of basketball competition. The junior varsity in high school hardly correlates to professional basketball. A slow kid with limited range isn’t making the NBA anytime soon.

If that was my goal then my life would look like a failure. But let’s say I measured it by growth? Sure I didn’t do much in high school basketball but I have played pretty well since. I will never forget when a guy who played college ball at the University of Northern Iowa told me I had a good shot and should shoot more. We played in a league together. I have done okay with my left-handed hook shot.

No, I came a long way as a basketball player and as I look at ministry I think the same. Our church has come a long way, from a clothes closet and a yearly medical ministry to a monthly medical ministry and countless other efforts that bring glory to God and impact the world.

I was reminded of this several times yesterday. A woman called to find out if we were still offering tutoring. She also had three students who will not have coats for winter. She knew we had a clothes closet so she wanted to check our hours. I told her to get me their sizes, we would do whatever it took to make sure they had something. She went on to explain that we have an excellent reputation in the Hispanic population for all that we do. You know, those aliens the Bible talks about.

I stopped in at another place and the first person I saw was someone I knew from our ministry. She recognized me but didn’t know from where. I explained and she immediately asked about our dental work. I told her we would be doing it again next year and that she really needed to call ahead.

This all happened in one hour of my day yesterday.

We are being salt and light and that is what matters. Do I still wish more believers would join our mission? Yes because it takes people to reach people, but I won’t let that ruin five years of successfully following Jesus Christ. It won’t keep me from looking forward to five more.

God bless.

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