It was 27 years ago this week that our two-vehicle caravan pulled into town. With a loaded rental truck and our car trunk packed full, we were filled with anticipation, adventure and maybe just a tad bit of anxiety. There were no guarantees. Moving our family of five—with three children ages 10, 7 and 2, thousands of miles from our nearest family members was no small commitment. We only knew two other couples in our new location, but they were ready to go on the journey with us.
My wife Linda and I left our home communities in Oregon and Ohio to start a new church in Cape Coral, Florida. Following a call and a dream, we left the familiar to embrace the unfamiliar. We stepped out of our comfort zone to move into the unknown.
These mileposts on the journey are always a good time to rewind the video and to reflect on life, the journey, and the learnings. Here are few that came to my mind this week:
Awed but not Surprised – I’m frequently get asked if I’m surprised by the fact that a group of three couples has turned into over 1,800 people worshipping God on two campuses at Cape Christian every weekend. The answer is “no.” I’m not surprised because, as a leader with a clear mission, I made a lot of decisions and choices along the way to create an environment for this to happen. But I am always awed by the way God has been at work and how He has used our lives to start a movement that is transforming so many lives.
Short-term vs. Long-term – I think often of the decisions that were made to “let go of the good so we could go for the great” (Jim Collins). From restrictive structures to releasing strategies, from keeping control to giving away power, from small thinking to expanding our vision, I’m grateful we pushed out into new territory for the sake of the long-term rather than staying comfortable for the short-term. The results of long-term thinking has finally become obvious.
Perseverance and Patience Payoff – There are many examples that come to mind when I think back over 27 years of entrepreneurial church building. None is quite so obvious to me as the audacious decision to purchase 48 individually-owned properties to assemble a 3 city-block tract of 14 acres on a major thoroughfare. There were a few other large tracts of land to choose from at the time but none of them met the 3-point criteria of location, location, location. They were tempting because of the ease and quick possibility of having our own property. But the hard work of tracking down 48 landowners from around the world and convincing them to sell their parcel was well worth the 10 years of perseverance, patience and prayer.
Risk is Worth the Reward – Investing in next generation leaders can be a huge risk. It means a lot of mentoring, much trust, and letting go of the secure. Choosing to empower young less-experienced leaders to lead is always a challenge. Sometimes it meant losing good friends and supporters. I don’t have a single regret. Now, those young leaders are repeatedly hitting home runs. And the rewards of seeing the next generation catch the vision and expand it—there is simply nothing else as quite as exhilarating.
In your life right now, are there any areas where you need to take some risks, look at the long-term and persevere? What decision will you make today that will pay huge dividends 27 years from now?
QUESTION: Did you make a decision years ago that really paid off? Please share it below.