Knowing When to Care (2019)
Dr. James Emery White
- 2019 Jun 24
One of the more important personal disciplines as a leader is to have the ability to know what you don’t care about. Or more to the point, what you shouldn’t care about.
For example, I don’t care about:
… transfer growth from other churches;
(we’re after the unchurched)
… whether another church in town is bigger or faster-growing;
(we’re not in competition with other churches)
… people who leave the church because they disagree with our belief in the Bible as the Word of God, our policy of conducting criminal background checks on all children’s ministry volunteers, our belief that lost people matter to God, etc.;
(some things are simply non-negotiable)
… refusing money from someone who wants to use it to impose their will;
(no amount of money is worth that)
… denominational politics;
(haven’t for many years)
… petty disagreements on historically disputable matters;
(in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity)
… dress codes.
(come as you are; it’s how you leave that matters)
I’m continually surprised at how many leaders spend enormous amounts of energy – and emotion – on things that simply don’t matter. I could add to this list, almost effortlessly, scores of other examples, and could give testimony to witnessing how each one consumed a person or church.
But then, equally stunning, is how lax these same leaders are on things that DO matter.
For example, not caring about:
… people knowing and embracing the vision, values, mission and doctrine of the church;
(these are kind of the big four)
… the continued presence and practice of contentious, divisive behavior in the church;
(if you haven’t learned to confront this at once, you haven’t learned much)
… whether you’re reaching the unchurched;
(it’s called the Great Commission—translation: it’s why you exist)
… the poorest of the poor and those suffering injustice in the world;
(it’s what separates the sheep from the goats)
There’s an old line about “majoring on the majors,” because the temptation is to major on the minors. For most leaders, this means how they spend their time, or choosing what to take a stand for. But somehow, the wind seems to have gone out of our sails on this one.
So let’s take it up a notch. The real issue behind what to major on is what you should care about, and what you should care about is simple:
What hills are you willing to die on?
James Emery White
For a listing of “hills to die on,” see James Emery White, What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary. Order HERE from Amazon.
This blog was originally published in 2014, and the Church & Culture Team thought you would enjoy reading it again.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.