The Grasshopper Myth
I enjoyed The Grasshopper Myth. I thought it brought a good balance to some of the discussions I have heard or been part of regarding church growth, church health, and related topics.
I particularly enjoyed chapter 12, where Vaters outlines the emotional stages many pastors go through as they wrestle with the realities of ministry. I’ve gone through those, and I have many friends who also have experienced them. Recognizing those patterns can help pastors navigate them in a healthy way rather than being overcome by them.
I also think Vaters’ emphasis on finding out what you are supposed to be doing, and then his encouragement to do it, is good advice for a leader of any sized church or organization. When this sense of purpose is clear, the temptation to look at others or compare yourself to others isn’t as strong. It’s much easier to bless others when you have clarity. You no longer see them as competition or as reminders of your own lack of ability or impact. Thus, you can celebrate their successes while giving yourself fully to what you have been called to do. I call that a win!
At times I found myself resisting Vaters’ ideas, perhaps because I am growth-oriented. What helped me embrace what he said was his honest recognition that some churches are small or lack growth for reasons unrelated to the pastors’ abilities as well as his acknowledgment that, sometimes, pastors can be lazy, incompetent, or simply fail to do a good job. Those are realities. I’ve had to face them in myself. I would never want to presume to know which is the case for any other person, but recognizing that both are true was important to me. It also underlined the importance of being honest with ourselves.
Finally, I thought Vaters’ point about the abundance of small churches was well made, especially when he pointed out that it just isn’t reasonable to think that all of those pastors of small churches are failing. I know many pastors who appear to live under some guilt or condemnation because they have received the message that they are somehow lesser because they don’t have a larger church. This is ridiculous! We need to develop a healthier perspective on pastoral success, and I think The Grasshopper Myth contributes to that.
So what did you think? Do you struggle with the “grasshopper myth?” Do you find yourself struggling with comparisons? Please share your insights and perspective with us!