Nine Reasons Why Christians Resist BHAG Thinking and Living

Great Leadership Lessons, Note 11
I have asked this question many times as I work with leaders. Why do Christians "resist" the idea of BHAGs? When I get strong and negative reactions from Christians about BHAGs, I am no longer surpised. I thought I knew why Christians react the way they do, but I wanted to get a broader perspective. So I ask leaders their opinions about the resistance. Here is a summary of the answers that are offered most often.

ONE:  Pride.
As Christians we know pride is so easily a very bad thing. To talk about BHAGs seems to verge terribly close to that most deadly of sins. Best to avoid it altogether. Why put yourself in a situation where temptation to pride abou the great things you are doing and accomplishing will trouble you.

TWO:  Fear.
The fear of failure. What if I keep missing the BHAGs I set for myself. Failure is painful, horribly painful. It is easier to live with lower expectations and goals that I can meet, then to live with BHAGs that I can't accomplish.

THREE:  Ambition.
Another bad word... or at least a word that easily has negative connotations with it. Personal ambition. That's bad - isn't it? And to have really high BHAG level ambition would be really, really bad. It just sounds too much like a preoccupation with self. Best to avoid that trap.

FOUR:  Too performance focused.
And this sounds much too performance, behavior, appearance focused. We are delivered from all that as Christians. We are free from performance, free from striving, free from external preoccupation. All this talk abut BHAGs just puts the focus on the wrong place. It puts the focus on "me" and on "externals."

FIVE: The "Rat Race" Trip.
Once you get started, you won't be able to stop. This performance "thing" is an endless treadmill of work. That is that Rat Race that the world has fallen into. It is what we are to avoid. You will lose your joy, peace and contentment once you start down the road to BHAGs.

SIX:  Discontentment.
Speaking of contentment, the Apostle Paul taught us to be content in all things. BHAGs by nature are discontment producing. Why choose to live with permanent discontent?

SEVEN:  Competitiveness.
As soon as you start taking about BHAGs, you are talking about some who win and others who lose. It becomes competitive. We are to be cooperative with one another, not competitive. 

When we talk about these "excuses" or "reasons" it is interesting how quickly the groups tend to refute them as soon as they are offered. People know why we use them, but it is easy to see how we wrongly understand and justify our avoiding BHAGs with these answers. It would be a very long post if I answered each of the seven common arguments against having great and inspiring goals. So this leads to two other reasons given when I ask people why we struggle with BHAGs.


EIGHT:  Ignorance.
In simple words - people misunderstand what BHAGs are and why we need them. People misunderstand the very arguments they give agains BHAGs and how weak the arguments are. People misunderstand that constant illustration of inspiring goals and the hard work by biblical leaders to reach these goals. People misunderstand the nature of personal motivation. 

NINE: Sloth.
After discussing the considerable amount of "misunderstanding" and ignorance about living and leading with great goals, another answer slowly emerges.  Simply - we are lazy. The good old spiritual word is SLOTHFUL. Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. It is a lethargy of spirit. A lack of motivation and energy for the things that are good, true and beautiful. It is a sluggishness of life. Sleep-walking. The mindset that doesn't really care greatly, so it is not motivated to do much. While Pride is the deadliest of sins, ignorance and sloth are not far behind.

Thomas a Kempis quote on slothfulness

Pope Paul VI quote, the demands of life

May God give us the wisdom and motivation to believe and trust HIM for the abundance of life and leadership to which we are called. May we live and lead knowing There is So Much More. May we always seek the Greatest Good for the Greater Glory of God and the well being of the world He loves. May we one day hear, "Well done good and faithful servants..."

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International