Is it possible to have too much confidence? Yes, it is.
Self-doubt is one ditch while over-confidence is another ditch.
Here’s one of my stories of dealing with over-confidence.
My first four years in ministry was a mixed bag. It was a extremely hard time on many levels, but internally my ministry was growing by leaps and bounds.
I was getting good at ministering to kids, however the church I was at never grew above 100 people.
I was talking to my mentor, Pastor Willie about how disappointed I was that the church hadn’t grown and he said, “Sometimes God will hide you out for a while until you are ready to be seen.” There is a lot of truth in that statement.
In 1983 things began to take off for me.
Debbie and I got married and we were offered a Kids Pastor job at a new, growing church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I went from teaching 20 kids every week to teaching 150 kids every week.
Willie asked me to speak at his International Children’s Ministry Conference on The Role of Kid’s Pastor. I was 25 years old and had the opportunity of a lifetime to minister to leaders from literally all over the world. (Thank you Pastor Willie!)
We wrote and produced a two curriculums, one on Prayer and one on the Holy Spirit. We couldn’t get any publishing houses to pick up our curriculum because of our emphasis on the Holy Spirit.
We decided to self-publish. (This was before PC’s and the internet.) I wrote it by hand and Debbie typed it on a typewriter. We sold over 500 sets of curriculum at the Willie’s Conference!
All of this began to boost my confidence that I was hearing from God and that I was on the right track.
In 1986 we interviewed with Pastor Mac Hammond for the position of Kids Pastor at Living Word in Minneapolis. Pastor Mac offered us the job and we moved from Oklahoma to Minneapolis. Living Word was a thriving church that had grown from 50 people to 1200 in in 6 years. We were now pastoring a group of about 250 kids.
Pastor Mac embraced our vision for curriculum.
He told me, “Part of my job as pastor is to support your vision.”
I had never had a pastor say anything like that to me, but I am incredibly grateful that he did.
We re-branded the curriculum and called it Super Church, bought some Mac computers, printed up 20,000 full-color catalogs and relaunched the product. We eventually sold over $3,000,000 worth of curriculum to over 5,000 churches world-wide. Another confidence booster.
In 1994, I stepped out into my own ministry full time. This was during the revival days of Brownsville and the Toronto Blessing. We traveled all around the world holding Family Revival Services and holding conferences for church leaders on “Children and the Holy Spirit.”
When things are going really good you can get into over-confidence.
Instead of waiting and listening to the Holy Spirit you can think that every idea you have is a God idea. The enemy is okay with this arrangement. He doesn’t care if you are in self-doubt or over-confidence as long as you are not listening to the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes your passion can mislead you.
Each summer we were conducting five weeks of Holy Spirit Camps for kids. The most powerful services I have ever witnessed have been at Camp. There is something powerful when you can get a group of people to focus on God for a few days. We had over 1,000 kids attending our camps from 10 different states.
We were renting space at Saint John’s University, but for some reason I got it in my head that we needed to own our own camp. I was so passionate about the Holy Spirit services at Camp, I reasoned that God will take care of the finances. I thought I was stepping out in faith because the need was so great and the ministry was so powerful.
We raised money and bought a fishing resort on Lake Mary in Emily, Minnesota. We never could make the camp cash flow. It would cash flow for about 6 months of the year and then it drained the ministry the other 6 months.
In the end we had to sell the camp and lost a lot of money. This was a low point for me.
More critical than losing money I lost confidence in my ability to hear from God.
When I look back at it, God never did tell me to buy a camp. That was my idea. I thought if I stepped out in faith God will be obligated to make the payment. “Doesn’t God want this kind of ministry for kids?”
God will bless you as much as He can, but He is not going to help you do something He didn’t ask you to do.
The bottom line is you and I have only so much time on the planet and He wants you to spend time on the things He created you to do.
How do I avoid the ditch of over-confidence?
Realize that pride is a part of human nature just as much as wanting too many chocolate chip cookies. Not everything I want is good for me.
Be prepared for the battle. If you have several big wins in a row, then over-confidence is a real possibility.
Find one of two people you trust to bounce things off of. People that love God and understand the call on your life. It’s best if these people you trust are just friends, not a spouse, an employer or an employee.
Slow down, get quiet and listen to the Holy Spirit.
Teach your kids and volunteers how to lead confidently.
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