Have You Arrived?

Last week I had the privilege of hanging out with leaders from two amazing organizations.   For years I have watched these organizations from afar and admired their success.

Catalyst creates leadership experiences (conferences) to “shape leaders in the church”.  I have attended this conference for 6 or 7 years and every year they amaze me.  I come to Catalyst expecting to be challenged, inspired, entertained and a bit overwhelmed.  Every year they deliver!

Buckhead Church is an amazing church that is part of North Point Ministries.  This organization has been influencing churches from the day they started and they just keep getting better.  When I transitioned from the music industry to church work I was a little overwhelmed at how to make the necessary adjustments in my leadership style.  I immersed myself in all things North Point and most recently have been diving into the details of life at Buckhead Church and the leadership of Jeff Henderson.

There are so many things that I could share from my conversations with these teams of leaders, but the thing that struck me was that, for all the accomplishments and successes these two organizations have experienced, they do not think or act like they have “arrived”.

What do I mean by that?

There is a tenacity in their culture that is startling… yet contagious, because they are passionate about figuring out how to continue to reach people.  Although their activities are different, they are both people centric.  They are consumed with how to reach people and motivate them toward their objective – for Catalyst it’s developing leaders, for Buckhead, it’s developing Christ-followers.

All the leaders that I met within both of these organizations were asking the tough questions like: “Is what we are doing effective?”  “Are we really reaching people?”  “What is changing in culture that we need to be aware of?” etc.

Even with all their successes, these leaders are not content to settle.  They have not given in to complacency.  They are not willing to allow their culture to be lulled into this idea of “arriving”.

“Arriving” is something that scares me to death for Cross Point.  I don’t want us to become a place where we think we’ve got it all figured out.  That the way we do church is the way that will always work.  That because the seats are packed and the parking lots full, that they always will be.

“Nothing fails like success.”

James O’Toole from Leading Change

I think this attitude of “arriving” has a tendency to creep into a lot of areas of our lives… our marriages, our jobs, our organizations, our friendships, etc.

Where can you make the application?  Where have you shifted into “park” and are settling with an attitude of complacency?

We have too much work to do.

Too many lives to influence.

Too much at stake to so pompously “arrive”.

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  • tam January 27, 2009  

    theres always room to grow, learn, and expand. there is always more to experience and ways to adapt to a growing and thriving future. staying relevant means you cant stay the same because our culture is always changing.

    but again, im not a church leader. so…not sure im qualified to make such a statement.

  • brewster January 27, 2009  

    Seriously this is one of the best posts i have read…GREAT definition of success and the dangers of success. if you guys keep your hearts in this place, and i never doubt that you would not, then there really are not limits or boundaries on what you can achieve. I love watching, cheering, and praying for you guys to do everything that God has planned…it is going to be freaking awesome.

  • Jenni Catron January 27, 2009  

    @tam – of course you’re qualified to speak into this! And you are right, learning should never stop. Culture is constantly changing and we’ll either keep up or watch it pass us by.

    @brewster – thank you so much for being such a champion of Cross Point. We value your input so much. Keep us accountable – don’t let us “arrive”!

  • Nick January 27, 2009  

    Great post.
    The more I grow as a leader and as a Christ follower the more I realize I have not “arrived” and I am so far from arriving its not funny! I think the more we grow the more our eyes are opened. I know the more I grow spiritually, the more I realize I have so much more growing I could do…its like a constant mountain in front of me, the higher I climb the more I realize I have a higher climb in front of me.

    My greatest fear is to be parked.

  • Phillip Santillan January 27, 2009  

    Totally needed to hear this. Thanks for saying what I need to be reminded of each and every day!

  • Jenni Catron January 27, 2009  

    @Nick – great application to our spiritual life as well! I totally agree.

  • Anne Mabry January 27, 2009  

    Great blog. Great challenge & reminder. You are inspirational leader! Thanks.

  • Monica Hunt January 27, 2009  

    Amazing post! I think this is a huge problem in so many areas of life- marriages, friendships, our walk with Christ, and definitely the church. The minute we think we’ve “arrived” I feel like we stop striving for better. My husband and I always make sure we never get too comfy to the point of taking the other person for granted. I believe this is why many marriages don’t last. Couples spend their dating relationship and engagement still trying to be a better partner and then they get married and something happens.. so many just stop trying.
    Anyway, I love this post!!

  • Jenni Catron January 27, 2009  

    @Anne – thanks… we were in the leadership trenches together for many years!

    @Monica – I think the application to our marriages is HUGE! I wanted to go into that discussion but it really could be a post all on it’s one. If you right it, I’ll link to it!

  • Heidi January 28, 2009  

    I find that my leadership flows so much more when I am relational and teachable instead of being stuffy and arrived.

    Even in my mothering I find this too. I can teach and listen and encourage my teens or even my 8 yr old if I don’t approach them as I know all the answers.

    This was really good thank you.

  • Sharon Wilson January 29, 2009  

    Great post and definition of success and its dangers. Love abundantly.

  • Nate January 29, 2009  

    I guess it’s very easy for me to develop that mindset especially since I grew up in the strict fundamentalist lifestyle of places like Bob Jones University. The prevailing mentality there was “We’re right, you’re wrong,” and it permeated much of what they did.

    Now that I’m no longer of that “stripe” of Christianity, it’s easy for me to look at the lifestyle I came from and say, “What you’re doing is inneffective!” But it’s still reaching people. God’s still using it.

    Just because a method resonates with the way I live and feel doesn’t mean it’s the way to do it. For instance, church in a hotel is extremely effective for us here in New Jersey (where luxury hotels reside in every town within earshot of Manhattan), but in Nashville or Anderson or Charlotte, things can be quite different. Who knows? A hotel church could do more harm than good in some areas.

    By the same token, just because what we’re doing here is successful, doesn’t mean it’s complete. I think it’s great that we have a name like “Liquid.” It acts as a constant reminder that we shouldn’t hold on too tightly to any particular method of reaching people. Aspects of our church will inevitably need to change. We need to be willing to stay fluid in those areas.

  • Daniel Decker January 30, 2009  

    Great post. Especially love one of the last lines / questions… “Where have you shifted into “park” and are settling with an attitude of complacency?”

    I think this is a danger we all face in many areas of our lives. Sad part is many don’t realize they are even coasting. They may not be so bold as to think they’ve arrived, but they think they are ahead or knowledgeable enough to allow for less effort. That’s when things slip away.

  • bustersdaughter January 30, 2009  


    Arriving is like going from the era of no electricity, inside plumbing of all kinds, etc. to now. Have we progressed so far that now we are trying to undo, take steps backwards to “get back” what has been lost, forgotten, stepped on, wasted.
    I believe we all have a time in our life that we cherish and wish we could relive it as if now we have arrived. I have that with my church. As much as I love my church and pastor and am grateful to be able to go there, I “wish” we could go back to the time when there were fewer people, a closer relationship with less staff and not so visual. I know we have reached people and have because we moved on and in so many ways with online worship, bigger building and two less services…but….I think if we ever really arrive…heads are either in the clouds or buried in the sand and woe is me.