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Stuck in the Urgent, Sacrificing the Future

Photo of Matt StiegerMatt Stieger | Bio

Matt Stieger

Matt Stieger grew up in the great city of Buffalo, NY. Since graduating from Ozark Christian College in 2008, he has taken his love for pizza and chicken wings to a small town in North Missouri. Matt serves as the Lead Minister of Crossroads Christian Church in Macon.  Crossroads is in a small town but would not reflect your typical "country church." He loves to see Jesus collide with everyday life to create authentic disciples. Matt leads with a passion for the church. He has a desire to see a community of imperfect people learn to follow Jesus together and have fun along the way. Matt has an incredible wife, Emily, and they have four crazy kids: Reagan, Levi, Jackson, and Maggie. They make his home an exciting adventure to say the least!

As an avid sports fan, I always enjoy it when each sport approaches draft season. Draft season is a time when professional teams assess which young players they can add to their roster to improve their team. Athleticism, talent, attitude, work ethic, and sports IQ are measured and evaluated.

Throughout the process, there is one word that you hear repeated. The word is “hope.” “I hope this player…” or “I hope we see from this player.” While each team needs to focus on how each player can improve their team immediately, they also must look at what they hope these young players become in the future. An essential balance between the current and the future must be maintained.

Church leaders must maintain the same balance in their leadership. We cannot mortgage the future and the vision God is calling us to while we get stuck in the urgency of what is right in front of us. Instead, we must take care of the current needs of what and who is around us and also look forward to what is ahead. If we constantly address the urgent, we will make no future progress and lead nowhere. Unfortunately, it can become easy in the day-to-day needs of the church to find ourselves stuck in the urgent. So how do we get out? After years of living stuck, how do we look up and see the future? Here are three questions to help:

“We cannot mortgage the future and the vision God is calling us to while we get stuck in the urgency of what is right in front of us.”

1. What is my dream ministry?

So many dreams of courageous faith, church revitalization, and changing our communities get lost in the face of conflict, traditions, and the fear of change. We choose peace in the mundane over the tensions of progress. So we stop dreaming. We stop looking forward. We settle for the simple tasks of today, hoping that one day the dream of the future might happen. However, dreams will never become a reality if they’re never dreamt.

When was the last time you dreamt about what could be? When was the last time you thought about the exciting things God could do through his church? It is his kingdom, and it was his church before you started. If we never place ourselves in a position to see what God has for the future, we will never be able to lead people there.

2. Am I choosing what’s effortless today over working for tomorrow?

It could be because you are tired, worn out, or possibly even facing burnout. Perhaps the comfort of peace outweighs the struggle for progress. But, on the other hand, it might just be that today’s urgent and easy task seems to be the most important. We know the work it will take to lead to the future, but it intimidates us. We don’t feel we have the leadership capacity and resources to get to a better future, so we take care of today.

In this process, we sacrifice the future for the urgent. The kingdom shrinks for our church to where we see nothing more significant than what we can control. Is it even about the kingdom when we only lead in the ways we can control?

3. What am I hoping for in the church of the future?

What is your greatest hope for the people that you lead? What do you hope they become as followers of Jesus? Whom do you hope they disciple? Where do you hope they serve? Our hope for the future drives our actions today. By dreaming into the future, we see who Jesus can lead people to become. Finding hope in today’s decisions brings creativity and excitement to the work we are in the middle of right now.

As leaders, when we begin to operate in the thought process of what we hope to see in God’s church, it rescues us from doing merely the urgent for today. Most people see the worst in themselves. It is our job as leaders and pastors to help them see what God sees in them and what he hopes they become.

“Finding hope in today’s decisions brings creativity and excitement to the work we are in the middle of right now.”

You are not just the leader for today. You are called and capable of leading to a better future than what you and others are stuck in. So look up, dream forward, and pray for what will come. Step out of the mundane, dream of a hope-filled future, and choose the hard work to get there.

From Used with permission.