Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Our Desires

Written by: on March 19, 2015

For my end of the semester research project I’ve been reading and writing about how the world has been skewing our view of true leadership. Miller and Cavanaugh helped me see that consumerism has played a pivotal role. Consider this…Who would write, let alone read, a book about a stable, small company providing useful service through the hard work of lifetime employees? I highly doubt this book would become a New York Times Bestseller. Yet, thousands of small churches have successfully influenced, in meaningful and noteworthy ways, the families and communities where they are planted. In contrast, the popular Christian leadership press likes the highly “successful” pastor who started with a home group and within a few short years cultivated a church of thousands. This isn’t to suggest large churches have bad leadership theories, this just points out how even Christian culture is influenced by the world’s measurements of leadership and how publishers cater to stories that will sell.

Most popular leadership books will leave you reflecting on a list of personality traits that can make you increase your power, influence, and greatness. Yet any leadership theory that has power and greatness as the outcomes is necessarily going to be at odds with the purposes of Jesus. That is why I really like Miller’s thought that the sacrament of the Eucharist has the ability to draw us back to what is most valuable. With consumerism feeding us with false desires it makes great sense to me that focusing on Jesus and the Cross will change our desires. I like what Miller says, “Desire involves, not only our desire for God, but also God’s desire for us, the desire for the kingdom of God and God’s justice originating from God’s steadfast love[1].” Cavanaugh also speaks to this desire when he says, “Our attachment to things we buy is short-lived, which leaves the consumer desiring not necessarily more, but something else.  Because of these types of desire are never satisfied, marketers have us just where they want us—chained to consuming in pursuit of happiness or our ideal identity[2].” The world’s desires will never satisfy, only Jesus will satisfy.

Cavanugh and Miller both suggest in one way or another that we often want to make changes to our consumption patterns, “to live another way, but we simply do not know how[3].” Yet, they both give an answer that really resonates with me.  I’d like to think the more we stop focusing on what we don’t have and the more we focus on Jesus, on what He has done for us, and who we truly are and all we have in Him, then the more free we will feel to follow Him and love others well. By fixing our eyes on Jesus we will be less swayed by the patterns and desires of this world and will be drawn to seek only Him to meet our desires.




[1] Vincent Miller, Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing, 2005), 110.

[2] William T. Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2008), 35.

[3] Vincent Miller, Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing, 2005), 4.

About the Author

Nick Martineau

Nick is a pastor at Hope Community Church in Andover, KS, founder of ILoveOrphans.com, and part of the LGP5 cohort.

13 responses to “Our Desires”

  1. Travis Biglow says:

    God bless you Nick,

    I thank you for your insight. As a pastor who started with a few members and later ended up in my living room (we worship at a building now). I have looked out and felt like I was not successful because I am not up to the numbers of members like others. Most of the churches or pastors i get around will ask me how many members do you have or do you have your own building? We are so set on things that don’t really mean what its built up to. I feel that growing members are more important than growing numbers. I want to be blessed to have a large church but i want to have large people more! Great insight!

  2. Jon Spellman says:

    Nick, can it really be that simple? Just by keeping our eyes on Jesus? How do we keep our eyes on Jesus in a world that is so incredibly loud and distracting?


  3. Brian Yost says:

    I loved your post Nick. You said, “thousands of small churches have successfully influenced, in meaningful and noteworthy ways, the families and communities where they are planted.” Only in a consumer driven society where everything is a community and the person with the most toys wins, could we ever look at those churches as unsuccessful.

  4. Dave Young says:

    It’s been frustrating to be pastoring smaller churches, churches in redevelopment. When I’d go to a conferences it would make sense for larger, better resourced churches. When I’d chat with other pastors it was often the A.B.C.s of ministry: Attendance, Buildings and Cash – all things that are measurable and marketable. It usually left me discouraged. As you point out in your post much of this is nothing but consumer driven methods applied to the church. It wasn’t so much about Jesus as about growing the organization. Oh to be enthralled with Jesus and not the trapping around us.

  5. Mary Pandiani says:

    What a delight to be able to journey with you, Nick, as you continue to explore what leadership means. Yes, desire, abundance, keeping eyes on Jesus are key elements over the typical outcomes (the ABCs) that Dave said he comes up against. And I would also agree with you that it’s harder to preach those truths that don’t produce results like we typically expect.
    The voice you are discovering about leadership is usually what people realize (if they stay in a flourishing Christ-centered ministry) after everything else they’ve tried has failed. May God continue to instill in you the conviction of true leadership as you receive more and more of God’s desire for you.

  6. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Nick, Love your first paragraph/point. Our culture so celebrates the big celebrity success stories and leaves the majority of hard working, faithful, and obedient leaders in smaller settings with smaller stories deemed less successful. The effect this celebrating the celebrity has had is so powerful. I think you are right in that few church leadership books are truly on servanthood vs. power, influence, and success. I think the greatest result of sin in the Church is that we end up looking just like the rest of the world.

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