Is the Upper Limit Problem Holding You Back from Your Greatest Calling?

more than a pastor show Nov 10, 2020
Upper Limit Problem Affects Pastors

More Than a Pastor Show Episode 6: "Is the Upper Limit Problem Holding You Back from Pursuing Your Greatest Calling?"

What's the biggest thing holding you back from launching into your greatest and most fulfilling calling? Chances are, it's what author Gay Hendricks, in his book The Big Leap, calls the Upper Limit Problem. On today's More Than a Pastor Podcast we talk about the Upper Limit Problem: What it is, and how we can push beyond it to create the life, impact and income you were made for.

Before we dive in...What would it mean to you if you could transform your biggest frustrations, passions, and dreams into your greatest calling? That's what my FREE guide, the "Personal Clarity GPS" can do for you! Why don't you download your copy now at

If you're new to the show, I’m Rich Avery. A pastor, entrepreneur, and dreamer dedicated to helping you live the life you were made for.

More Than a Pastor is the show for pastors who feel called to something more:

  • More freedom & fulfillment in your life
  • More impact in what you do
  • More income for your family

You know, it’s interesting isn’t it...

You and I, as pastors, have the greatest calling in the world don’t we? We get a front row seat to witness the amazing transformation God does in the lives of other people.

And yet there are times when we can feel stuck, broke, overworked, and frustrated in our lives, ministry, and finances. 

Have you been there? 

I remember one night, and it was late, after my wife and five kids had gone to bed, and I was sitting on our living room couch, my head in my hands, and I was crying out to God and asked him if we would ever be able to get ahead financially...or would we always be living basically paycheck to paycheck. And would I always feel stressed, frustrated, and overworked?  And would I ever be able to pursue some of my entrepreneurial dreams, or did I have to give them up to do the ministry God had called me to do.

I’ll never forget that moment, pouring my heart out to God, when I sensed him say to me, “Rich, when did I ask you to be broke or overwhelmed or frustrated? And when did I ask you to give up on your entrepreneurial dreams?”

Right then I realized that, all these years, I had accepted these things and had taken them on myself. I accepted these frustrations as just facts of life for pastors.

And something began to change inside of me - right there in that moment, and I asked myself: 

"Rich, what if saying yes to God’s call to pastoral ministry didn’t mean I had to say yes to feeling stuck, broke, or unfulfilled? And there was a pathway I could follow to reimagine my calling in a way that I could more fully live out the life God had called me to, realize my God-given dreams, and build financial security for my family?"

I looked everywhere for that pathway, and never found it. So I decided to create my own path.

It hasn’t been easy. It taken me more time than I care to admit to begin to figure things out and start to see more growth and success in my life, impact, and income. Because I let delay, doubt, and distraction slow and stop me many times over several years.  

And I've made some painful and costly mistakes. Mistakes with multiple zeroes on the end of them! Thankfully, my wife still loves me. :)

Through it all, what I discovered was there are simple steps that every pastor can take to get clear about the dreams and passions that are most important to you, reimagine your calling, and create the life, impact, and income you were made for.

In other words, how to live out your greatest calling.

Now I've made it my mission to share what I'm learning and experiencing, to help other pastors live their greatest calling.

Unfortunately, there’s one thing that can stop pastors from living our greatest calling...and keep us from fulfilling our God-given dreams. It held me back. For years. And it can do the same to you too. 

What is it? We’re going to talk about it on the show today. It’s something called the “Upper Limit Problem.” 

On today’s show, we’re going to talk about the Upper Limit Problem - what it is, and how you can identify it and overcome it, so you can live the life you were made for.

I’ll also share a quotation for the day, and my take on it, a resource to help you get clarity on your life’s biggest goals and dreams, some Q&A, and more. That’s all coming up in today’s episode of the More Than a Pastor Show.

Q & A

In today's show I explain why I ran two marathons in two weeks. And what these experiences taught me about breaking past the limitations I had accepted in my life. 

Do you have a question for Rich, or a topic you'd like to see covered on the show? Please send your request to [email protected].

Quotation of the Day: Jonathan Milligan

Our quotation of the day is from my friend Jonathan Milligan, from his new book entitled, Your Message Matters:

 “Living on mission leads us toward action. We are no longer passive observers of our lives, but we are active participants. Fear paralyzes; mission clarifies.”

Have you ever thought about how living on mission and living in fear are polar opposites? 

When we’re living in fear we hold back, try to preserve, protect ourselves, keep from taking risks.

When we’re living on mission we’re bold, we take new ground, we put ourselves out there, and know we must take risks in order to live the life we were made for.

I don't know about you, but...

I've let fear hold me back many times from fully living out the mission I knew God had called me. I was fearful of what others might think. Fearful of making a mistake and making a fool out of myself. And I was even fearful of success - and what that might mean for my life! Weird...I know!

But then I discovered that everything worth doing is on the other side of fear. And we need to push past the fear of the unknown or what others may think or of our own success so we can pursue the mission God made us for.

If you know you have a mission, and message, inside of you that God wants you to share with others, and you've been thinking about launching a blog or podcast or other platform, but you're not sure where or how to start, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Your Message matters. 

Jonathan has a great offer right now. He's offering the book for FREE, while supplies last. You just have to pay for shipping. Why don't you check it out, and get your Free Copy of Your Message Matters.

Is the Upper Limit Problem Holding You Back From Pursuing Your Greatest Calling? 

Hey, I have a question for you. How are you doing right now at  

  • Living your most fulfilling life?
  • Making your greatest impact?
  • Building wealth for your family?

If you’re feeling a bit stuck, or you’re not making the progress you would have hoped to have made by now, I want to talk with you about something that could be the number one thing holding you back from truly living the life you want.

It’s something author Gay Hendricks, in his book “The Big Leap,” calls “The Upper Limit Problem.

Hendricks describes it this way:

“Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to experience and enjoy. This setting is our upper limit."

When we begin to exceed that inner thermostat setting, or upper limit,  and achieve a new level of success or love in our lives, Hendricks says we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure. With what’s familiar. And comfortable.

So we never really get to a place where  we’re truly living our best life, making our greatest impact, or enjoying maximum financial success. Hendricks calls THAT place our zone of genius.

So how does this play out in our lives? 

You have a dream for something new you want in your life - maybe a new position, or a new venture, or some change you’ve been wanting to make in your life…

And you start taking steps forward, maybe getting some success under your belt. But then you freeze. Stop. 

And this means you end up staying in your zone of “excellence.” Doing things you feel gifted at, in a safe and comfortable way. We’ll talk more about why that’s not necessarily a good thing in a minute.

But let’s first look at the other zones that we can find ourselves in:

Zone of incompetence - This is where you spend a lot of time doing things you’re not good at and others can do better than you. You want to get out of this zone so you can spend zero percent of your time here.

Zone of competence - This is where do spend time doing things you're competent in, but others can do them just as well. So you should decide to let others do these instead.

Zone of excellence - These are things you do especially well. The things you're gifted at...and can do better than many others. You may make a good living here. And feel pretty comfortable. 

Sounds good, right? But there's a problem with staying here in our Zone of excellence, Hendricks says:

“The temptation is strong to remain in the Zone of Excellence; it’s where your own addiction to comfort wants you to stay. It’s also where your family, friends, and organization (your church!) want you to stay. You’re reliable there, and you provide a steady supply of all the things that family, friends, and organizations thrive on. The problem is that a deep, sacred part of you will wither and die if you stay inside your Zone of Excellence.”

There is only one place where you will ultimately thrive and feel satisfied, and that’s...your zone of genius.

Zone of genius - Here you'll find the set of activities you’re uniquely gifted to do. Where your uniqueness shines. It draws upon your gifts and strengths. Your ultimate path to success and life satisfaction. Your zone of genius calls out to you, beckons you. Makes you come fully alive.

The problem is that we’re so comfortable in our zone of excellence that we don’t want to leave it behind for our zone of genius.

Most people settle for the zone of excellence...and it ends up sucking the life out of them. They feel stuck. Unfulfilled. And this is weird...because on the one hand, the stuff you do in the zone of excellence you do very well. But the problem is that those things don’t inspire you. 

So what we want to do, according to Hendricks, is begin to ease from our zone of excellence to our zone of genius. And when we do, two things will happen:

  1. Our abundance, success, and love will begin to expand beyond our wildest imagination.
  2. Our Upper Limit Problem will say we're not worthy of that kind of success...and that we're not really capable of achieving it.

So how can we solve our Upper Limit Problem, and make this transition from our zone of excellence to our zone of genius? Hendricks says we don't solve it, but we can begin to dissolve it, by asking ourselves these four questions:

  1. Am I willing to increase the amount of time every day that I feel good inside?
  2. Am I willing to increase the time that my whole life goes well?
  3. Am I willing to feel good and have my life go well all the time?
  4. Am I willing to take the big leap to my ultimate level of success in love, money, and creative contribution? In other words, am I willing to go for it and enjoy success in all the important areas of my life? 

His point is that when we argue for limitations in our lives we get to keep them. Why do that? Instead, why not go for success in all areas of our lives?

So, instead of wasting time on whether it’s possible to pursue your passions, goals, and dreams, focus your time and energy on making it possible for you. 

The magic in your life starts to happen when you start saying sincerely "Yes I want to go after that." I want my life to go well in all areas of my life all the time, and experience success in my relationships, career, finances, etc.

It's a mindset shift that begins to create a positive expectancy within us and opens us up to what God wants to do in and through us. Then we follow that up by taking the actions that reinforce that mindset and move us forward step by step toward the life, impact, and income we were made for.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Personal Clarity GPS Blueprint

Would you like help in creating clarity around the passions, goals, and dreams that are most important to you, and how to begin moving forward toward the life you were made for?

I want you to have a copy of my FREE download: The Personal Clarity GPS blueprint. 

You know what a GPS is on your phone right? You tell it where you are...and where you want to go...and it maps out the best options to get there.

Well, the Personal Clarity GPS does the same thing for your life. It helps you get crystal clear on where you’re at today in your life and work...what are your hopes and dreams for the future...what are your passions and past experiences...and then it helps point the way to something I call your greatest and most fulfilling calling.

How would it feel if you had that kind of clarity? And you could begin to move with confidence today toward the life you were made for?

>>Download Your FREE Copy Now: Personal Clarity GPS

Join My Private Online Community?

I've created a private Facebook group called the More Than a Pastor Online Community. I'd love for you to click the link to join and be one of the 1,000 pastors we're helping over the next five years to reimagine your calling and create the life, impact, and income you were made for! 

Coming Up on The Next Show

On the next episode of More Than a Pastor, I'll share Six Life and Leadership Lessons Pastors Can Learn From Children's Ministry. And how they can help you create more time, have more fun, and be more productive in your life and leadership.


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