growth  [grohth]  noun

  1. the act or process, or a manner of growing; development; gradual increase.
  2. size or stage of development:
  3. completed development.
  4. development from a simpler to a more complex stage.

grow(ing)  [groh-ing]  adjective

  1. becoming greater in quantity, size, extent, or intensity

In virtually every arena where I offer leadership, there is a conversation taking place around growing (becoming greater in quantity) or growth (more gradual deepening and maturing):

  • Corporate Coaching Clients – Do they work on organizational health, developing their leadership teams, optimize processes, and get clear on strategic initiatives to realize their vision (growth), or focus on growing top line revenue (grow)?
  • House Church – Should we focus on deepening existing relationships  and stay in the living room we are in (growth) or should we look for a neutral site that will allow for expansion and greater attendance (grow)?
  • Our Father’s Business (Not-For-Profit) - Do we continue to deepen relationships and bring greater transformation to a select few companies we currently have relationships with (growth) or focus on growing the number of businesses impacted?
  • SummitTrek Executive Board – Do we continue the process of deeply entrenching and transforming the lives and organizations of our current members (growth) or focus on trying to drive sheer numbers of organizations sitting around our tables (grow)?

This isn’t completely an either/or proposition.  You should be able to grow (in sheer numbers) and to experience some growth (deepen and mature).  But focusing on the one will likely impede the other.  These two objectives are definitely a tension to manage that will be very challenging to focus on at the same time with any success.  They will certainly lead you to very different destinations.

Like it or not, we live in a “bigger is better” culture.  By way of example, there is an increasing portion of our population that is determining value by how many “friends” they have tallied or “likes” they have received in social media channels.  It is a numbers game where worth and notoriety are almost purely defined in numbers.

Remember the old Sunday school song, “Deep and Wide.”  That is the offer of the gospel and the far reaches of our Father’s great love for us.  It is also our heart’s desire.  We want to experience all the riches of deep, life-changing, and intimate relationships… and we want to experience that with as many people as possible.  But my experience has been…

  • It is difficult to have meaningful and lasting impact when you invest in too many.
  • That the relational dynamic starts to break down as the crowd broadens.
  • Translating and embodying a culture becomes very challenging as you grow (in size).

There was a season of my family life where I subconsciously ascribed some sort of value to the number of Christmas cards we received each year.  We are in a season where we are trying to measure the impact of our lives based on how many people sit in our living room, break bread at our tables, or invite us into the real issues and struggles of their lives.

Despite what our culture (even our Christian culture in some ways) teaches us, Jesus seemed to operate in a different rhythm.  He seemed to address the larger crowd almost out of necessity instead of out of design.    His mission was focused on investing in twelve in order to multiply His teaching to every corner of the known world.  I am sure there were hundreds, if not thousands of hanger’s on… those that wanted to get closer to the epicenter, to be the thirteenth.

Somehow, we’ve missed the crucial point that when it comes to people/relationships and having a deep and lasting impact… it is often a “less is more” proposition.

In what areas of your life are you focusing on growing (size or amount)?

In what areas of your life are you focusing on growth (deepening and maturing)?

Do you feel like the Father is prompting you to make any changes?