The values of an organization are the traits and beliefs that make it what it is. At Mercy Hill the values for our staff team are communicated in tensions because any value in isolation can be destructive. For example, independence is a good thing unless you are so independent that you can’t work on a team. Every value then needs a counterpart and every staff member needs to hold the tension.
Tension 2: Hungry yet satisfied.
Like excellence, hunger is hard to define but easy to see. When someone is hungry they don’t have to be pushed. In fact, when it comes to hours and intensity, they often need to be pulled back. When someone is hungry they never have to be told to show up early, they do more than the job requires, and are generally driven to be all that God has for them to be. I think another word for hunger would be ambition. When someone is hungry they have tons of ambition which shines through their work. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins notes the importance of hunger and drive. In researching companies that made transitions from being good to great, one key factor was the hunger for success that drove those in the top levels of leadership. That is probably true of any successful company, church, or ministry inside of a church. Hunger and drive are paramount to success.
Of course, as ministry leaders, celebrating hunger is tricky. As sinful human beings we are often driven by hunger, but it is the wrong kind. Are we hungry for success for the sake of our identity? Are we ambitious and driven for our own renown? As one mentor of mine says, “ministry is an easy place to hide the idol of success.” One of the books on our DNA reading list is called Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey. Harvey makes the point that humans are glory seekers. This is the root of ambition, drive, and hunger. The problem is that as glory seekers we can easily begin seeking the wrong glory. We were made to glorify God with our lives, but instead we often attempt to glorify ourselves. However, ambition and hunger can be rescued. We must continually fight to remember our gospel identity. We are eternally the sons and daughters of God through Christ irrespective of our work and accomplishments. With a firm grasp on the gospel, we are freed to be ambitious in the right way for the right things. So, when we say hunger, we are not talking about the hunger to fuel our own glory through successful work. Rather we are talking about being hungry, ambitious, and driven for the glory of God in all facets of our lives.
An appropriate hunger then is marked by an ability to be simultaneously hungry for God’s glory and satisfied in our own gospel identity. That is the tension. The glory of God drives us to be ambitious for accomplishments in this life, but our identity doesn’t rest in them. As I mentioned before, celebrating hunger is tricky. The only real way to know if our hunger is healthy is to see if it is also balanced with divine satisfaction. When we are working for our own identity and glory we will never be satisfied. It means we can never rest or turn work off when we go home. It means we will routinely choose work over our own health and family’s wellbeing. Hunger is essential and irreplaceable, but only when it is balanced with a healthy dose of divine satisfaction that only comes through the gospel. Having both hunger and satisfaction enables us to work hard and do things the right way while knowing that nothing we do makes God love us more or increases our standing before Him.
-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)
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