A long time ago, I was taught that a person who thinks big has a big ego. And a person who thinks small is a holy person.
Especially in religious circles, big thinking is criticized and small thinking is praised. Because all desire for expansion is a sign of pride.
And when a person says, “I want to be promoted in my job,” or “I want to earn more,” or “I want to expand my business,” some religious people will tell you, “Be happy with where you are. Be content with what you have.”
But today, I’ve realized that small thinking may mean small love. Some people think small not because they’re content, but because they’re cowards.
As little children, we were told, “Don’t stand out. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t create waves. Don’t call attention to yourself.”
But now I tell you: Stand out. Rock the boat. Create waves. Be the best that you can be. Fulfill your destiny. Don’t put your light under a bowl, but put yourself on the lampstand. (Matthew 5:17) And shine God’s light within you!
My main message? Think big, love big.
Once upon a time, the Israelites were conquered by the Babylonians and Assyrians. They were captured, chained, and hauled off like animals to another country to become their slaves.
One day, after many years in captivity, they returned to their land. But the Israelites were a people with a broken spirit. They were a defeated people coming with a defeated mentality. They felt small. They were thinking small. They were in survival mode.
But God told them, “Enlarge your territories.”
He said, Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left… (Isaiah 54:2-3)
The Israelites were a conquered people with a conquered spirit. Yet God says, “It’s time to conquer. You’re not conquered, you’re a conqueror.”
God wanted them to make a switch: From small thinking to big thinking.
Friend, you may be like the Israelites.
Perhaps you’ve been defeated by your problems. Recently, you’ve been hammered by trials. And you have a defeated spirit. You see yourself as a small person. And you feel small. And you’ve been thinking small in your job, or in your business, or in your family life, or in your ministry.
God is telling you now, “Don’t think small. Don’t think survival. Instead, think big. Think growth. Think expansion. Enlarge your territories. Because I want you to use you to bless the world.”
Be like Jabez. He prayed a unique prayer…
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory…” (1 Chronicles 4:10)
When I read that verse, I think of my friends Rolly and Donna EspaÃ±a.
Rolly and Donna are fantastic business people.
God blessed their businesses so much, they were able to build a gigantic house in Laguna.
Let me give you an idea of how big their house is: It has an elevator. (But I was mildly disappointed it had no ATM machine.)
From the surface, it’s totally illogical why they have such a humongous house. Because Rolly and Donna don’t have kids.
But here’s the logic: When this couple hears about one of our ministry teams planning to have a retreat, or a seminar, or a workshop–Rolly would raise his hand and say, “Please use my house.”
If the retreat is 3 days long, Rolly and Donna would be there for the entire 3 days, to cook for them, serve them, and meet all their needs. They haven’t only opened their home, they’ve opened their hearts.
They have no biological children. But they have many spiritual children.
Here’s my point: They enlarged their territories for others.
Claim these words from Daniel. But those who know their God shall be strong and do great and mighty exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
“Lord, Disturb Me!”
Let me tell you the story of how God expanded the territories of my spiritual family, Light of Jesus.
Once upon a time, we were tiny.
For 25 years, Light of Jesus was an inwardly-focused Covenant Community. We were a small bunch of people who met each week in closed-door, “for insiders only” prayer meetings.
Here was our goal then: We wanted to form spiritual giants. We had very strict norms–one hour of daily prayer, one hour daily Bible reading, one-hour daily levitation… (Just kidding.) We discouraged secular music, secular dancing, and secular movies. We believed that smoking was such a grave sin, it prepared people for the smokes of Hell. We banned drinking of all alcohol.
And we tried to manage people’s personal lives. Our members couldn’t make personal decisions without consulting their small group leaders for guidance. Anyone who doesn’t do that is deemed rebellious.
We were very big on commitment. If you couldn’t attend a minimum number of meetings, you’re booted out. (In our immaturity, rules were more important than people.)
No wonder we weren’t growing.
But there was a glimmer of hope…
Each month, we had a meeting for “outsiders” which we called the Feast. That was where we could invite family, officemates, and friends. But it was only a once a month gathering.
Here’s what we noticed: Our monthly Feast was incredibly life giving! People loved it. People went home with a big smile on their faces. They couldn’t get enough of it.
But our weekly closed-door meetings were as enjoyable as chewing wood. People were dragging their feet to go to these “for insiders only” meetings. That was why we had to threaten people to come, or else… We had to tell them, “If you don’t attend consistently, you’re no longer a member of Light of Jesus.”
That was why we had to check attendance. To force people to come. Here’s what I learned: When you force people to attend meetings, there’s nothing wrong with the people. There’s something wrong with your meetings.
But for years, that was who we were.
And we became very comfortable with our set-up. So comfortable, we didn’t want to change anything.
But one day, God disturbed us…
He Said, “Expand Your Territories!”
Because He wanted us to expand.
But to expand our territories, God had to first expand our thinking.
First, God overhauled our identity. Not just our activity. I’ve learned that if you really want to expand, you’ve got to overhaul your identity.
From being a Covenant Community for managing “insiders”, He wanted us to become a Spiritual Family that’s focused on welcoming “outsiders”. He didn’t want us to form an elite team of spiritual giants. He wanted us to create a loving home whose front door was always open for the unchurched, for sinners, for the spiritually sick, for those far away from God.
From being focused on maintaining house rules for insiders, God wanted us to focus on loving outsiders.
When God overhauled our identity, changing our activities was easier. For example, we made the Feast weekly. And we moved from one Feast to many Feasts, from one preacher to many preachers.
Changing is always uncomfortable.
Inwardly, we ask ourselves, “Why disturb what was working?”
There’s really only one thing that prevents us from expanding our territories: Its Fear.
Fear is the biggest thief in the house. It has been stealing your dreams away.
Let me share two common fears…
1. Fear of Discomfort
We live in a culture that worships the god of convenience.
In our culture, convenience is the most important thing.
Don’t get me wrong. Convenience is a gift from God. Thank God for convenience.
Once upon a time, it took 6 months to go to America. Now, it takes 10 hours.
Once upon a time, we wrote handwritten letters–and it took a few days, sometimes weeks, for our letters to reach our friends. (Prehistoric days.) Now, we can facebook them in a snap of a finger.
Once upon a time, you had to call up people via a landline phone. If you’re my age, you remember the rotary phone that took forever to dial. “Zip, Rrrrrrrr….” And if you’re my age, you also recall that you also had a “partyline” (usually your neighbor). If she’s using the phone, you can’t use it.
Oh, thank God for convenience. Thank God for cellphones. Thank God for digital cameras. Thank God for google. Thank God for Ipads. Thank God for 24-hour pizza delivery.
But here’s the problem: The moment convenience becomes the most important thing in your life, that’s the moment you stop growing. That’s the moment you stop expanding.
Life begins to atrophy. Decay. Disintegrate.
Here’s the truth: Expansion and growth and development can only happen if you do the very opposite of convenience–which is sacrifice.
Remember my story above? Transforming Light of Jesus caused us pain.
When we made the Feast a weekly instead of monthly, it caused us pain.
Every time we moved venue, it caused us pain.
Every time we built other Feasts, it caused us pain.
But the pain was good.
Today, we have Feasts in 16 locations in Metro Manila, plus a few more Feasts all over the country and the world. Our PICC Feast (Philippine International Convention Center) alone gathers 5000 people every Sunday.
Convenience is nice. Enjoy it if its there. But throw it out of the window when your big dreams are at stake.
Success Requires Sacrifice
Are you married? If you want your marriage to work–you’ve got to sacrifice. Many marriages aren’t working now because the husband and wife just want convenience more than anything else.
A marriage cannot be based on convenience.
Raising kids cannot be based on convenience.
Having a great career cannot be based on convenience.
Building a business cannot be based on convenience.
Growing your investments cannot be based on convenience.
A healthy body cannot be based on convenience.
Expanding your territories can only be based on sacrifice.
Here’s another common fear that prevents you from expanding your territories…
2. Fear of Failure
Let me tell you a story.
Julio was a new salesman. Despite of the fact that he would go house to house every single day, he couldn’t make one sale.
So his sales manager called him and asked him, “Why can’t you sell?”
Julio said, “I don’t know why. Bad luck, I guess. I stand in front of the door waiting for someone to answer, but no one opens the door. So I go to the next house.”
After a few more questions, the sales manager discovers the reason: Julio would go house to house, standing in front of the front door, but he would never knock. He would just wait for it to open.
Why? He was afraid. He was afraid of failure. He was afraid of rejection.
Are you like Julio? Do you also simply stand in front of the door of opportunity–and don’t even knock? Have you been passing up so many doors of expansion, because of a fear of failure?
Do something. Try it out. Dive in. Wet your feet. Experiment. Fail a few times.
Please know: To think big, you don’t act big. In fact, I strongly recommend that you act small. Because I assure you that in the beginning you’ll be failing first. So act small so that your failures are small.
There are two kinds of big thinking.
1. Big thinking that comes from big ego.
2. Big thinking that comes from big love.
Let me tell you the difference.
One Thing To Check
Do you want to know if big thinking comes from big ego? From pride? From insecurity? From a need to prove yourself to others? From a need to buy other people’s love? From a need to cover up one’s unworthiness and inadequacy?
Look for one sign. Look for the presence of hurry.
If there’s hurry, there’s a 75% change that big thinking came from big ego.
For example, you’ll think big and act big right away. Because you’re in a hurry.
But if big thinking comes from big love, you’ll think big and act small at the start. Because you’re not in a hurry. Because whatever you’re doing is not about you anyway. It’s about serving others and blessing the world.
If it’s big ego, you’ll think big and grow fast. If it comes from big love, you’ll think big and grow naturally. Not slow. Not fast. But naturally.
When Hurry Destroys You
You can’t hurry a woman’s pregnancy.
It’s 9 months or bust.
Not 6 months, 7 months, or 8 months. If a baby comes out before the 9th month, it needs to be in an incubator. Its health is in danger.
Nor should the baby stay in the womb after 9 months. If the baby overstays in the womb, it’s dangerous to both the baby and the mother.
Do you know that some of the food that we eat is dangerous to our health? Why? Because we hurry the natural process of growth.
For example, a native chicken takes 3 to 6 months for a baby chick to become an adult chicken. A regular chicken takes 45 days. But today, some only takes 28 days. How do they do it? They inject the chicken with massive doses of growth hormones–chemicals that throw our own hormonal system off balance. Some believe that these chemicals can cause cancers.
You’ll Lose Money If You’re In A Hurry
The reason why a lot of people fall for terrible scams is because they’re in a hurry to grow their money. This is also the reason why people gamble and lose all their money–because they’re in a hurry to grow their money. (This is the reason why I tell people to “invest” in the Stock Market, not “trade” in the Stock Market. Those are two very different things.)
In business, it’s the same thing. I’ve learned not to rush expanding my business. Instead, I just let it grow naturally. I avoid so many problems. And I avoid useless stress.
I’ve also learned that I don’t have to rush growing a ministry. Whenever I fall into the temptation of growing quickly, I get into catastrophic problems.
Expand Your Territories–
Because It’s Not For You Anyway!
Here’s my little dream: I want to retire as over-all leader of Light of Jesus when I’m 55. That’s a mere 10 years from now. (I don’t believe a leader should stay too long in my position. The temptation is too great to use my fame and power for selfish ends.)
But I’ll never retire from serving you.
My exciting dream is to serve you without an official title for the rest of my life. When I’m 80, I hope I’m still visiting Feasts all over the world, encouraging people.
I want to have only one title: Your Friend.
I can retire because my dream isn’t about me.
Light of Jesus isn’t about me.
It’s about you.
It’s about serving you, blessing you, and loving you.
So enlarge your territories. Be the best that you can be. Grow. Flourish. Expand. Because it’s not for you anyway.
Think big, love big!
May your dreams come true,
PS. Join us at any of our Feasts and change your life forever. For schedules and venues, email Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 725-9999.
PS2. My weekly TV show is back to bless you again: KerygmaTV is now in IBC 13, every Sunday, 8am. Tell your friends that we’re finally back in TV!