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February 4th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

36 comments (+ Add)

Signs of Immaturity 1 (of 4)

Hopefully with time, we are all maturing in our relationship with Christ and as leaders. In the past (and unfortunately still too often), I’ve exhibited traits of immaturity. This week I’ll share four common areas of leadership immaturity.

Know It Alls

In my earlier years of ministry, I thought, for the most part, I had “it all figured out.” While in seminary, I was the classic armchair quarterback.

If I was the senior pastor…

Because I thought I knew so much:

  • I didn’t ask questions.
  • I criticized ministries I could have learned from.
  • I made tons of ministry mistakes and hurt a lot of people.
  • I placed a ceiling on my effectiveness.

Too many people are too proud of what they know. The older I get, the less I realize I know, and the more I’m growing.

How about you? What do you know too much about?

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  1. Feb 4, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Let’s just apply your post to me and say I wrote it (I might as well have since you literally could have been writing the story of my personal ministry journey). Thanks for your vulnerability.

  2. Feb 4, 2008 at 10:41 am

    That’s awesome Craig. I feel this way a lot. Being 26, the hardest thing for me to come to terms with is that I can only have as much experience as a 26 year old :)

  3. Feb 4, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I would consider myself still “young” in ministry. The one thing that you (Craig) and others have taught me already is to know that I don’t have all the answers. You have inspired me to continue to learn, grow, question, and try things that I might not have before. I know that I have come a long way from where I started, and still have a long way to go on this journey in ministry!

  4. Feb 4, 2008 at 10:44 am

    You know how you know everything as a teenager? Yeah, I’ve spent most of my twenties still in that mindset. Even while in the military, ministry, and business. My family was so proud. :)

    But God has been working on my the last couple of years. I’ve discovered that I will either be humble or BE humbled.

    As we begin the process of planting a church, I’m realizing how much I don’t know and can’t do and how much I need God. I’m desperate for him and something tells me that’s exactly where I need to be.

    Thanks for the post Craig!

  5. Feb 4, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Before I started my studies at Asbury Seminary, a friend and graduate reminded me not to become a gnostic. I only sort of understood her then, but it quickly became clear what she meant.

    It can be easy to believe seminary - though beneficial - can provide a “special” knowledge.

    I find myself being convicted by the Holy Spirit when I drift into thinking I have a “special” knowledge about what vitality should look like for every local church.

  6. Feb 4, 2008 at 11:20 am

    I was reading Matthew 11 and it talks about God hiding things from people who think they are “wise and clever”. It kicked my butt to think about how many things God is hiding from me because I am a know-it-all. Awesome post, thanks for sharing it.

  7. Feb 4, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Jason touched on the importance of humility. Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn this the hard way by being humbled. Lately, God’s been reminding me of how important humility is to Him from 1 Peter 5:5…

    Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

    I’m now trying to act in a way that’s not in opposition of God. :-)

  8. 9Joe Louthan
    Feb 4, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Seminary is just for the skins on the wall.

    I still won’t know anything. I will still be wholly dependent on God for everything. The day when I start ministering and teaching under my own will is where I will stumble. Hard.

    That said, I am going to start my seminary training this week. God is still training me and I am loving the journey.

  9. Feb 4, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Oh, humility is a good one to apply to immaturity. I probably wouldn’t have ever considered myself to be immature until I saw how my pride was getting in the way. I realize I’m still young in years, but God has broken me to build into His image, rather than my immature one. :)

  10. Feb 4, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I do know a lot about one thing: little boys. You know, the kinds of things they can do and sounds they can make with their body parts? I’m an expert on this, lol. Everything else, I’m still a student.

  11. Feb 4, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I have found that because I too am immature more often than I want to admit, it helps when I pass things through the ultimate “FILTER”, my wife. Many times I have wanted to use an illustration and she has said, “that wouldn’t be a good idea”. I really should listen more often.

  12. Feb 4, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Craig - What do I know too much about? Years ago I was taught, that for the most part, success in ministry was based on a set of principles that when consistently applied would bring predictable results. Filtering my perspective through those principle I became an armchair quarterback myself. Then the day came when I was at the helm and realized that not only does being a leader demand continual growth but a continual dependance on God. Leading and growing a church is not a science but more of an art. Art with individual expression. Every faith community is birthed in a unique culture and context. Every church has a leader with distinct strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been humbled too many times to count. I’m sure there are more to come. Whatever ’signs of immaturity’ you post this week PLEASE place my picture next to each one. Thankfully, God is good; Christ is the head of the church - and He still uses us. WOW!

  13. Feb 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I feel this is can be an ongoing trap in my life. One of my top five strengths is learner. Because I enjoy learning so much and put so much into everything I can swing over to the other side boarding on being a know-it-all. My wife is a great source of keeping me honest.

  14. 15tony
    Feb 4, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    are you talkin’ to me, man? kinds personal isn’t it? my response is that you’ve gone from preachin’ to meddlin’!!!

    seriously, your question not only makes the young quake, but the old and wise grimace with some painful memories of knowitallism.

  15. Feb 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    I used to think I knew a lot about a lot, like parenting, but now I have a son and I apparently forgot it all! Another area that I think I’m pretty unsure but at one point thought that I could figure it out is transitioning a church. I think that I used to think that it was easy…just go in there and clean house. Seeing some friends transition and watching their journey has taught me that I don’t know much at all!

  16. Feb 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Pretty good post, Craig, but I already knew that.

  17. Feb 4, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Cheers to the loving spouses who remind us that we don’t know it all!

  18. Feb 4, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Teachability is the toughest lesson I have ever had to learn …but I am grateful to God for it…

  19. Feb 4, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I used to be the same way… thought I knew it all, had no grace for anyone… Now I constantly pray that God would help keep a teachable spirit… I have so much to learn… and that’s a good thing!

  20. Feb 4, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Is ti possible to be 25 with a 55 year old mind? I could only wish I had known at 25 what I now know at 55. God continues to teach-some easy and some hard lessons-no matter the age.

  21. Feb 4, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    MmHmm…ouch. I’m a 25 year old pastor and this one is close to home. I’m trying to keep my self-awareness up and my ability to listen and learn wide open.

    Thankfully…I’ve got a team around me who is willing to have tough conversations with me when they need to. Some of those Matthew 18 (if your brother sins against you…) ones hurt…but they bring such freedom.

    Can’t wait to read the next 3 posts on this topic.

  22. Feb 4, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Keep us humble Craig! Keep us humble!

  23. Feb 4, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I’ll be 50 this month, gulp! It seems like my dad gets smarter the older i get, and he’s been dead for 24 years!

  24. Feb 4, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.

  25. 26Kevin R.
    Feb 4, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    I knew I didn’t know everything. I hope to follow the faithful example of my pastor of 25 years, and surround myself with wise people that will give me wise counsel. I am learning how much I don’t know about technology as we are launching a Saturday night experience live using the internet campus. My little Associates Degree in IT/Networking is not much when it comes to this. You know when you get those internet errors that shut down Internet Explorer and then ask if you want to send a message or not? Whoever gets those messages anyway? Pray for us as we try to reach our community using

  26. Feb 4, 2008 at 9:37 pm


    That all sounds exciting.

    If you haven’t availed yourself of Brian Ahern’s help…you should. Though he’s not a tech guy…he should be able to give you several options. You’ve probably already connected with him…but if not, please do.

  27. Feb 4, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Great post and I wish I had read it when i was younger and heeded the advice. Some of the ministries and ministers I criticized the most are know the most significant influences in my life…And some my best friends. God has a weird sense of humor.

  28. Feb 4, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    I’ll tell you what….I don’t really like the statement, “well i have been doing this for 20 years”…that know it all mentality…but at the same time, I really don’t know what in the world I’m doing so who am I to talk….I want to grow, ask questions, surround myself with successful ministry leaders…one thing though, I’ll probably never have it “all” figured out!

  29. Feb 5, 2008 at 12:16 am

    That is a good and tough one… to allow others to speak into your life, without getting defensive, without explaining, (really it is just an excuse and trying to prove yourself) and without letting them know that you know all the secrets to life and living well…This is something I still catch myself doing-more frequently than I would like to admit. It all comes down to where you find your identity! If it is in Christ, it won’t matter how much you know or don’t know.

  30. Feb 5, 2008 at 7:08 am

    When I worked in correctiona and politics I had seasons of knowing everything.

    Since I have been in ministry, I know too much about absolutely nothing.

  31. Feb 5, 2008 at 7:12 am

    I wrote earlier that I was 55. My early years as a pastor was in the era that the pastor “knew it all” or “was to know it all.” I had to learn the hard way I didn’t. I am glad there are guys like Craig who remind us all that humility has no age limits and certainly no generation limits. “Walk humbly with God” especially you “youngsters” :) Us “oldsters” will do the same.

  32. Feb 5, 2008 at 8:00 am

    The older I get the less I know I know…. It’s FREEING!

  33. 34Sharyl Williams
    Feb 6, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Love this thread. And let me say, as a 47 year old, maturity comes from the heart, not from age. I still find myself struggling sometimes with immaturity in different area’s.
    I watched last weeks sermon and would be interested to hear back in three months how your challenge to people to test God and tithe worked out. I would love to know how many ask for their money back. And just to keep this on topic, I see tithing as a definite sign of maturity in Christ!

  34. Feb 6, 2008 at 7:38 am

    This month I am celebrating my 20th year of active ministry. After the first five years, I thought I was “all that”. At the end of another 5 years, I realized I didn’t know anything. I’ve spent most of the last 10 years learning to “discover”. The more I learn…..the more I learn there is to learn.

  35. Feb 8, 2008 at 11:10 am

    [...] Signs of Immaturity I [...]