The first time I heard the term “cathedral thinking,” I was at my first missions conference. It was over thirty years ago. As I scan the recesses of my mind, I cannot recall the time or place it occurred; however, my life was forever impacted by the message cathedral thinking carries.
As I was seeking the Lord for His direction in this new year, He reminded me that I needed to keep this message alive because it resonates in the heart of God.
At the mission’s conference I attended, the speaker shared that if God called you to build a cathedral, the first thing you would do is plant an oak tree because it would be needed one hundred years from then to construct the cathedral. I admit that I had never thought like that before! It requires a level of selflessness that produces a future for people who have not even been born. My heart cries to impact future generations, so I must put cathedral thinking into action in my life. For example, it took one hundred eighty-two years to build Notre Dame.
Cathedral thinking is about long-term investment. I can compare it to planting a tree that you will never sit under. You will never be refreshed by the shade it produces or sheltered from a storm underneath its branches. However, future generations will enjoy the shade, refreshment, and shelter because of your willingness to offer others what you cannot enjoy yourself.
Cathedral thinking is about long-term investment.
I know that God has emphasized this message in my life because I have benefitted from cathedral thinkers that planted seeds one hundred years ago. My husband and I pastor Lifespring Christian Church, which turned one hundred years old recently. I work as a chaplain in a psychiatric hospital that recently celebrated its centennial. If this was not enough to keep cathedral thinking alive, God also surprised us with an invitation to attend the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. We had the privilege of hearing Bishop Beacham speak in Germany, and we participated in the service at Castle Church Cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany.
As we focus on building this year as part of the 2021 Women's Ministries theme, it is vital to incorporate cathedral thinking into this process. We are quite possibly laying the foundations for buildings and fruit we will never get to see. However, without our investment now, the way might never be paved for these building plans to be completed.
The best way to keep cathedral thinking alive in our hearts is to follow the example in John 3:30.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
We will be able to think in the time frame of future generations if we allow Christ to increase in our lives as we decrease.
What can you do individually? What can you build that you will not benefit from?
Are you contributing to or building something that will outlive you?
What is your cathedral?
Debi Adams lives in Greensburg, PA and serves on the board of the IPHC Women’s Ministry. Her roles include serving with her husband in the River of Life Conference where he serves as Bishop and pastoring LifeSpring Christian Church. She is passionate about her ministry as an Ordained IPHC Minister and is employed as a Chaplain in a State Psychiatric Hospital. The Association of Certified Christian Chaplains is where she obtained her Board Certification. Her passions include deployment to disaster areas as a Billy Graham Rapid Response Chaplain and helping people in Crisis.