In Empty Promises: The Truth About You, Your Desires, and the Lies You're Believing, Pete Wilson challenges readers to break free from empty pursuits and start chasing the only Promise that will ever satisfy. Pete is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and I recently had the opportunity to talk to him about what trends he's seeing in the church today.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you see in the church today?
A: Every culture in history has blind spots, and the 21st Century North American church is no exception. We have huge blind spots. That’s why church history is so important. It provides perspective.
I think one of our blind spots these days comes in how we measure success. The obvious tendency is to measure success strictly by the numbers. I've heard it said many times that if a church is growing it's healthy. Well, I don't think that's necessarily true.
I like the way the Apostle Paul said it in Galatians 4:19:19 “Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives."
My goal as a pastor is to see Christ formed in my life and then in the lives of the people I've been entrusted to lead. So my church may do one hundred others things well but if we fail at this task of becoming more like Jesus, with my understanding of Scripture, we've failed at our mission. And helping our people grow in Christlikeness is a huge challenge.
Q: If you could say one thing to church leaders, what would say?
In our culture today it's very easy to get caught up inside of what’s been called the “empire of entitlement.” Inside of this empire I start to think?
- Life should revolve around ME.
- Relationships are about meeting MY needs.
- Fruitful ministry is the result of MY effort.
- The things I have are because of MY hard work.
- Luxuries become like MY necessities.
I have to be very careful, especially when things are going well, that I don't live inside of the delusions of this empire for long. As soon as I start to believe that I have what I have because of MY hard work it leads to all kinds of unhealthy extremes. When I sense myself drifting in this direction I have to remind myself of Scriptures like this one in Deuteronomy. Moses’ warning is so relevant to many of us today. Especially those of us in leadership.
"Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today." (Deut 8:14-18)
Who gives power?
So whose power is it?
Good leaders don’t seek to acquire power; in fact, they ferociously try to give it away.
Q: What do you hope people give out of this Empty Promises?
A: I wrote Empty Promises because I saw a natural drift in my own life to find purpose, meaning and even love from things that did nothing but leave me empty and wanting.
The more I talked with others about my experience, the more I realized that almost everyone had this deep longing to feel worth, significance, acceptance, love, and beauty. There are certain things our soul just longs for on this journey. And whether we realize it or not our souls have been shaped by this search.
There is this unquenchable longing that everyone in your church has that tempts them to sacrifice everything they have and everything they are to be a little richer, a little more powerful and successful, a little more in control, a little more loved ll in this futile attempt to heal the inner emptiness.
It’s so easy to think:
If I had this.
If I had that.
If I had what they have?
Then I would feel loved, valued, and worthy.
But sooner or later we discover the heartbreaking truth that no matter how powerful, or successful or loved we become, it¹s never enough. That’s why I’m so excited about this book. I believe people desperately need to not only be able to identify idolatry in their life, but they also need to discover that each of these deep longings of the soul are actually God-given longings. I dream of the day when we all realize that God placed these longings in us in order to draw us closer to Him.
In this book we'll explore the narrative of the Bible, which shows God drawing His people away from these empty promises and to Himself over and over again. We’ll discover, together, that God can, will, and always desires to give you what none of the empty promises of this world can give you.
Thank you for reading. I’d love to connect with you through the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe via RSS!