As the senior pastor at Hillsong Church, Brian Houston is a walking testament to the idea that ambitious goals and intentional purpose can lead to great achievement. In fact, each week, more than 100,000 people attend a Hillsong-affiliated church, making it one of the world’s largest and most influential churches. He’s literally one of the world’s biggest pastors.
In his new book, There Is More, Houston writes about how God breaks through the negativity of culture to deliver enriching, open-minded encouragement, so others can accomplish their own big dreams.
RELEVANT sat down with Houston to discuss how to overcome obstacles while chasing your own calling.
Could you articulate the difference between what we often hear in culture and what scripture teaches?
The contrast is pretty clear. The world around us is increasingly lacking hope, a future and direction. There’s a lot of pessimism about the future, whether it’s in political, natural or social fields. I think that gives the Church an amazing opportunity to point people to Jesus and point people to what God has for us. So as the world around us becomes more pessimistic, it tells us as Christians what can’t be done and why it shouldn’t be done and tries to put us in a box. But … God can’t be boxed.
Is there an area where you think the church isn’t thinking big enough right now?
One of the great tragedies of the Church is we tend to settle for less than our potential or God’s best. I feel we need to set ourselves higher and understand God has more for us. I’m certain that as long as we have life, God has us on an adventure, and like any adventure, it has its highs and lows, but Scripture says God can do anything, more than we can imagine.
It’s easy to be complacent and get comfortable, but sometimes we’re called to do something uncomfortable. How do we discern that?
There are so many forces designed to stop you from stepping into whatever it is God has called you to and designed you for. Comfort will never give you the fulfillment that living your life “called” will. God can bring you more if you stay resilient and refuse to draw back. God can open doors of possibility and opportunity you could never imagine.
So how do you make sure those possibilities are things God is putting on your heart instead of selfish desires?
Motivation is important. The Bible talks about self-ambition, and I actually looked up ambition in the thesaurus, and the words were great, like fire, zeal and passion. I don’t think those words are from the devil; I think those words are from God. Jesus obviously had zeal and passion. There’s a force that would love for us to lose our zeal, but when someone has the kind of resilience to know God and they keep pressing forward, God has more for them.
Another pitfall is we live in a culture that fosters comparison, so how can people avoid that when lining up their calling against another person’s?
Comparison is ugly. No one ever wins when you start living your life in competition. There’s always going to be someone a little better looking, a little smarter, a little more gifted and more talented than you. So comparison’s a dangerous road to go down, and I think the devil would love us to get involved in that world. But that’s a choice, and it’s also a choice to realize God has a goal for our lives. I’m going to run my own race, and I’m going to be comfortable in my own skin. I’m going to be who God wants me to be, know He has more for me and I’m going to continue toward that “more” no matter what it costs.
What does it take to attain that personal ownership of your calling and strip the comparisons away?
It comes from a godly confidence.
You have to have a confidence, that, one, God is God. Two, you’re a child
of God. Three, He loves you, and He’s called you. And four, He has a plan and purpose for your life. If you just live with that certainty in your life, it almost becomes inevitable that you’ll move forward into the “more” God has for you. Don’t underestimate God.
No matter where we’re at in life, we can feel like we’re maxing out, and we’re not as good as the next person. That’s exactly what the devil would have us think.
I understand the importance of not going down that road. I’m not going to do that to my spirit. I understand that my pursuit of “more” means less about me, a lot more about others and all about God.