Improve your sermon prep with our brand new study tools! Learn all about them here.
Preaching Articles

There was a missionary in China whose talents and abilities were so outstanding that one of the American companies tried to hire him. They offered him an attractive job with a salary to match, but he turned it down. He told them God had sent him to China as a missionary.

He thought that would end the matter, but instead they came back with a better offer and an increase in salary. He turned that down, too, but again they came back, doubling the financial package.

Finally he said to them, "It's not your salary that's too little. It's the job that's too small!"

Going into all the world to make disciples is a BIG job! That's why it's so odd to see so many church leaders make such little offers—such small challenges—to their congregations. Some challenge their flocks with baby steps for fear they will leave if confronted with a BIG, God-sized challenge.

Challenges like Jesus made ...

"Go and sin no more." (John 8:11b)

"Jesus told him, 'If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' " (Matthew 19:21)

"But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!" (Matthew 5:20)

"You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:27-30)

"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.' " (Luke 9:23)

"But Jesus told him, 'Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.' " (Luke 9:60)

Jesus didn't call people to baby steps, He confronted them with challenges so big that to respond would mean turning their lives upside down!

Many walked away. 

That never stopped Jesus from making BIG challenges!

It often stops today's leaders. We fret about asking someone to hand out bulletins, greet visitors or help serve communion. And we don't even consider asking someone to go share the Gospel with an unbeliever for fear of completely freaking out the "Christian" with such a request. Yet, for someone to repent of their sin and follow Jesus Christ requires the greatest challenge of allwe have to be challenged to die to self and live for Christ.

How are you challenging the people you lead? With the challenges of Christ? Or pleas for the occasional baby step?

Minister, clinical pastoral counselor, life and business coach, certified personal trainer, writer, leader, businessman James Scott has done a few things over the years, but being a servant of Jesus Christ is why he exists, and the greatest passion of his life is to help people better understand, and apply, God's Word to their lives.

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

Irene Allen

commented on Aug 13, 2013

God knew man could not do any good on their own, so He sent his Son, Jesus, to fulfill on the cross, the BIG challenge for us, called sin. God so raised the bar of holiness, lest any man think themselves holier than most, He went for the jugular, just in case- And said, even if man looks and lusts in his heart, that man is imperfect (considered sinful). A standard so high, none could attain. So, in steps Jesus to endure the wrath of his Father, for the world if, they, only believe, our only hope for divine holiness, still. The grace of God will be forever faithful even when we aren't. Being a consistent Christ follower in our thought life and in deed is indeed the greatest challenge for EVERY believer. With God, doing and behaving good and obeying God is possible, most times in our lives, but those darn thoughts can trip us up almost every time in some cases, can't they? Yet, God remains faithful and says, where sin is found, My grace abounds. Meaning. Like My shed blood, that forever cleanses, so is My grace, fully supplying. I think, aside from the BIG challenges named in the article most believers face is, becoming consistently, bible correct, in their believing. Just a thought.

Emmanuel Ofori

commented on Aug 13, 2013

We know that it took the disciples the entire period of Jesus' ministry on earth to learn some fundamental things of the faith. Jesus did the teaching first before asking for TOTAL commitment. It seems to me that church leaders, including pastors, have the sacred responsibility to 1. Teach the flock what is required, and 2. Ask for total obedience, including the BIG challenge as articulated in the article.

Tyron Simpson

commented on Aug 13, 2013

I am a young man called into the ministry I am a current college student online. My passion is for evangelism and I like to be mentored further

Lawrence Rae

commented on Aug 13, 2013

I appreciate your article and all of its challenges to us. One thing could be added. Not only did Jesus perform the activities he expected from his followers, he walked alongside them to help them get a feel for what the road ahead would demand of them. He was a discipler, not just a challenger, manager or sidelines coach.

Minister Sanders

commented on Aug 13, 2013

Christ lead by example.....Which we must follow if we are following him......

Paul Hull

commented on Aug 13, 2013

Emmanuel, If you check the record I think you'll find that Jesus started calling the twelve directly from their vocations. Though Jesus made big demands later on, His early demands were just as big and bold. Men and women of faith have always gone before they had all the answers. Think Abraham. Of course Jonah is the example in the opposite direction. He knew what was expected and didn't want God to forgive those in Nineveh who he presumed (correctly) would repent.

Paul Hull

commented on Aug 13, 2013

Emmanuel, If you check the record I think you'll find that Jesus started calling the twelve directly from their vocations. Though Jesus made big demands later on, His early demands were just as big and bold. Men and women of faith have always gone before they had all the answers. Think Abraham. Of course Jonah is the example in the opposite direction. He knew what was expected and didn't want God to forgive those in Nineveh who he presumed (correctly) would repent.

Emmanuel Ofori

commented on Aug 13, 2013

Thanks, Paul. You are right ... Jesus called the first disciples with a challenge: "Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of people (men)". You and I know also that, in the Great Commission, Jesus the great DISCIPLER demanded we make disciples and "teach them to obey" ALL that He had commanded us ... the "ALL" include the BIG challenge and more. Thus the BIG challenge and FOCUSED teaching were bedfellows in Jesus' ministry and that should ours too. I am concerned about biblical illiteracy in the church in north America today (I say this with some element of trepidation), and as Lawrence rightly suggested, we need to walk alongside with those we disciple and teach/nurture them in the faith.

Jonathan Hughes

commented on Aug 13, 2013

Jesus said that to a certain rich man. People are not to arbitrarily sell whatever they have to whoever. Selling what you have will not save your soul. Jesus does not want people to steal the sexual partner of another. Even in nature that leads to conflict even death of the would be stealer. Jesus does not want us to war against each other. What Jesus said as offended is not connected to wanting to steal the wife sexual partner or partners of whoever. There are people offended by seeing what God made looking upon in narrowly and worse. Have them be offended by what they see they will be offended by what is not yet seen. Would it be good to be in the hereafter with sight being offended by what is seen? Selling what you have will not save the soul. The bond of perfection is charity. Look at 1 Corinthians:13:4. Charity has nothing to do with money, clothing or any cheap items. The Pharisees were condemners feeling like it made them better. Hell is Gods light to evil. Jesus was crucified on that cross. Jesus did not war willing to die rather than war. That is what take up your cross means. Have people done that? To be spiritually dead is to not be like Christ is being like the other guy is calling it good. Have Jesus in you being flesh and blood in you communion becomes nothing more than a ritual. The body itself is in sin. That is why KJV says condemn be condemned for the same things.

Paul Hull

commented on Aug 14, 2013

Emmanuel, If you check the record I think you'll find that Jesus started calling the twelve directly from their vocations. Though Jesus made big demands later on, His early demands were just as big and bold. Men and women of faith have always gone before they had all the answers. Think Abraham. Of course Jonah is the example in the opposite direction. He knew what was expected and didn't want God to forgive those in Nineveh who he presumed (correctly) would repent.

Join the discussion