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You may be overflowing with vision for your ministry, but there is a point where you have to stop thinking about it and talking about it, and instead, start doing something about it—moving your vision toward a tangible reality.

I've met thousands of pastors with incredible vision for ministry in their community, but sadly they never got past the thinking stage.

What good is a vision when it stays stuck in your head? Or, if it languishes in the "talk stage" and never launches into the sea of faithful action? The vision behind Saddleback Church would be nothing more than that—a vision—without the steps of faith taken to plant, and then grow, the church.

So here's my message to you: in spite of your fears and doubts, it's time to get up off your blessed assurance and start taking faith-steps toward seeing your vision fully formed and realized. God rarely asks you to take leaps of faith; rather he encourages you to take small steps that grow larger as your faith grows larger.

But you've got to take the first step to get to all the other steps!

An Early Example
In Joshua 1:10-11, the Israelites faced a faith-step: they stood just across the Jordan River from the promised land, a vision of home burned in their hearts during 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Their new leader, Joshua, instructed them to prepare to cross the river. It was time to take the plunge—literally.

Now, the Jordan is not a very big river—it's only about a hundred feet wide and twenty feet deep—EXCEPT in flood season. Can you guess when God wanted the Israelites to cross the river?

It was just as the spring weather was melting snow off the mountains, turning the Jordan into a giant, rushing, torrential, dangerous river. Isn't that classic—God put them there in a moment when the crossing seemed impossible!

The Israelites asked, "How will we get across?" There weren't any bridges over the Jordan River. No pontoons. How could this entire wandering nation cross such a raging river?

God's answer: "I'm going to do a miracle! Remember 40 years ago when I parted the Red Sea and you walked through it? We're going to do it again, only this time there will be a slight change. At the Red Sea I opened the waters and then you walked through; this time I want you to start walking first and then I will dam up the water. Trust me—the waters will recede. But I want you to step in first. This is a test."

So the nation's spiritual leaders began to walk into the water. And God did a miracle, damming the water about 17 miles upstream. The waters receded, and the Israelites crossed over the river.

That Important First Step
God has given you a vision for ministry, but there's a Jordan River in your path; what barrier stands in your way?

The first step is always the hardest. What should you do when you know something is God's will but you're scared to do it? You do it anyway!

If you know it's the right thing, you fight the fear. Courage isn't the absence of fear; it's moving ahead in spite of your fear. Once you make that first step, more faith will come.

You might be thinking, I'm getting a little too old for this launching out stuff. But you know what, Joshua was 80! So age is no excuse. You're never too old to launch out in faith—spending the rest of your life fulfilling the vision God planted in your heart.

You can start small, but you must start; that's the key...the first step. It's been my experience that the first step toward fulfilling a vision is always the hardest, but it's also the most important because it forces you to face your fears and move beyond them.

It doesn't have to be a big step, but it does have to be taken. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, "If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done!" (NLT)

Imagine what God will do in your ministry as you take your next step of faith: God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

This article is used by permission from
Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox by Rick Warren.
More information available at

Author Biography

Rick Warren
Web site:
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Beginning with just his wife, Kay, in 1980, the congregation now averages 22,000 attendees at its 5 weekend services.

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