My Transition From Valuing Numbers to Valuing the End Result


One day I was fed up. I left the office in the middle of the day and didn't tell my staff where I was going. No one was home and I sat down on the couch and started listing what I could do besides being a pastor: basketball coach, FBI agent, police officer, insurance salesman, and so on. After a few phone calls I realized that my training and experience did not make me a likely candidate for anything other than being a pastor. I returned to the office the next day knowing that if I didn't intentionally change the way I was leading the church, and broadcast it, I would badly misspend my life. 

I decided I should take the following actions, for only actions matter. They are not ambiguous. I decided to:

1. Quit teaching a Bible study on Wednesday night composed of veteran church members and start a group in my home for newcomers. This action would give me ten weeks to get to know people who were ready to become apprentices of Jesus. Just to alert you, such decisions are not without a price. There was a reaction, but I cleared the decision with those who attended the sessions; they gave me their blessing. I also cleared the decision with our governing body; they also gave me their blessing. The class was usually attended by fifteen to twenty people; the following Wednesday evening more than seventy-five non-class members crammed into the chapel in protest. It was enough to confirm that I had made the right decision.

2. Concentrate on younger leaders who were hungry to be trained. I had to create a system in which leaders could be identified, trained in that system, and then become teachers in that system. I also had to select leaders who would be willing to meet at 5 a.m. once a week. We formed a group of young men who could argue, learn, and work together for a common cause. By the way, 5 a.m. meetings tend to keep away the spiritual riffraff. By week three the willing are with you, and the unwilling are slobbering into their pillows.

3. Be a disciple-making pastor and start writing about Jesus being a disciple maker. Writing would give me opportunity to think through my ideas and practices. It would also provide material for those I was training and for other leaders who had similar interests.

I made these decisions in 1982; they set my course and have resulted in a meaningful way of life. I have been a voice for discipleship among leaders and their followers around the world. Subsequent crucial turning points have prompted me to refocus my life, but the metrics haven't changed. I still count disciples.

Of course, just because you change actions and get new results doesn't mean you will be happy. I know this because of two things that happened between 1981 and 1984. The first was that I trained a group of about ten men. I spent time with them and taught them how to lead, teach, and, most importantly, think about the world and our role in it. It was a dream come true for me, and those ten men affected hundreds of others then and thousands by now. The second thing was that I was engaged in a spiritual war with various factions in the congregation. The political infighting was intense. People were organizing a rebellion, and my family was attacked. It was a miserable existence.

One night in January 1984 I decided I had to get out of there, and a few weeks later I resigned from the church. I changed my actions and got a new result, but I can't say that I was a happy man. I had been fulfilled in my work with my young leaders; it was the highlight of my week. I loved studying, writing, preaching, and doing pastoral things, but the infighting soured my soul. The reason I left was simple: I could choose to leave and so I did. I would need to learn to stay the course somewhere else, the next time.

Written by Bill Hull

Taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Bill Hull