Summary: The third in the series. About not taking risks or chances. Not having faith/trusting in God. Being crippled by fear. Something like that.

The Seven Habits of Highly

Ineffective Christians (3)

Embrace the Triangle of Mediocrity

Cardiff Heights Baptist Church

16 January 2000

Summer is one of my favourite TV watching times of the year. With

all the tennis and cricket it is very easy to be wholeheartedly

mediocre. But there was a cricket match at the turn of the century,

in England, which is truly inspirational for anyone wanting to be

highly ineffective. The match brought together King’s College

Choir School and the Trophy Boys XI.

Trophy Boys won the toss, batted first and were all out for nought.

Then King’s went in and Trophy’s first ball was a ‘no ball’. Which of

course gave the King’s Choir school a score of one and victory in

the match.

We come tonight to the third installment of the seven habits of

highly ineffective christians. There are many ways to look at the

highly ineffective life but there is perhaps none better than the view

from the couch. So with that in mind I present the triangle of


Show Overhead

The third habit of the highly effective Christian is that they embrace

the triangle of mediocrity. Christians who are grounded in the Bible

know that God desires a life lived by faith, a total surrender of the

will and a casting of oneself on God’s mercy. However, if you want

to be wholeheartedly mediocre your triangle will lean more towards

the bottom right hand corner and you will be governed by fear, not

by faith.

Governed by fear means you do not act on God’s word. Instead

you only act according to your own assessment of any situation.

You need to trust your own understanding, your own judgement

according to what you can see around you. Do not put your hope

in things that cannot be seen, such as heaven, and you will live a

gloriously ineffective life.

The Bible and church history are filled with accounts of men and

women who stood up for their beliefs and their God. However, the

ineffective Christian will learn a plethora of ways to become a

spiritual wimp. Tonight I would like to do a case study on the

triangle of mediocrity. We are going to look at Numbers 13 and 14.

We aren’t going to look at the whole passage. Instead we are

going to touch on a number of places.

Israel after leaving Egypt in search of their new home now stand

on the brink of the promised land. A land that none of them have

seen but all would have dreamed about. They certainly would have

had expectations about what it was like and now they were about

to find out.

Read Numbers 13:1-2

What was God’s purpose for Israel? The promised land. It is

important to note the promise in this verse. “Explore the land of

Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” “I am giving it”. “It is

yours”. God had a great vision, great purpose for Israel - the

challenge was would Israel trust in God and follow Him into the

new land! Would they be part of his vision? God has a great

purpose, great vision for ministry here at Cardiff Heights. The

question we need to ask is ‘do we want to be part of it?’

Read Numbers 13:17-33

In the report we have two voices. Firstly there was the voice of fear

from ten of the spies.

Read verse 31.

And then there is the voice of faith from Joshua and Caleb.

Read verse 30 and 14:8-9

In response to God’s purpose, God’s vision for Israel these two

voices were heard. The voice of fear operates by what they saw

whereas the voice of faith operates by what God sees. This

passage presents us with two paths that we can take in response

to God’s purpose. It presents us with the path of fear and the path

of faith.

Each path has four steps. Which path shall we take first. To be

ineffective is to take the path of fear so lets take that one first.

The Path of Fear

a) We can overplay the obstacles and underplay the opportunities


To be ineffective, you must strive for stagnant living. One of the

best ways to accomplish this is to stifle all efforts to realize ‘the


I define ‘the dream’ as your God-given, nagging sense of purpose.

‘The dream’ keeps coming back at you, as if God were pushing

you toward your ultimate goal. No matter what you do you can’t

stop thinking about it: starting a ministry to a particular group,

beginning an outreach to your neighbours, or spending more time

with your family.

You must fight these little whispers from God. You must tell

yourself that it probably wouldn’t work and nobody would come or

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