How to build the tallest building in your city!

May 29, 2023

by Martijn van Tilborgh 

When you want to own the tallest building in the city there are two strategies to accomplish that vision.

The first is simply to tear down and demolish every building in town that is taller than yours. This is probably the easiest way to accomplish the desired outcome.

The second is to ... well ... actually build the tallest building.

For some reason, human nature tends to pick the first strategy over the second. We’ve seen this strategy a lot in political campaigns during election season. Whoever paints the most negative picture of his or her opponent usually wins the election.

The problem with this strategy is that making everybody look worse doesn’t make you any better.

You are still you, exactly the same way you were before you tore the other person apart.

Sure, you may end up with the “tallest building in town,” but only at the expense of others and not because your building ended up being any taller than before.

It’s a spirit of competition that leads us down this path. A spirit that shouldn’t be part of our thinking to begin with. In fact, it may be worth asking the question whether or not the desire to build the tallest building is actually rooted in the right mindset.

Could there be an alternative option that will allow you to be successful without having to “beat” someone else?

Throughout the entire New Testament, there is a recurring theme among the disciples. They talk about it a lot. They appear very concerned with the question of who is the greatest among them.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who, then, is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’” (Matthew 18:1).

This is just one reference that mentions the ongoing conversation on the same topic.

Isn’t that interesting?

Of all things they could have been concerned about, the question that seemed to occupy each of them the most was whether or not he was greater than the next disciple. We tend to read these stories and shake our heads, not realizing that often we’re guilty of that same narrative in our ministries and organizations.

“For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28, NIV).

This verse is fascinating to me. It speaks about two paradigms:

1. Those born of women
2. Those who are in the kingdom of God

Whenever Jesus compares and contrasts these two “worlds” and shows us the difference between them, I like to believe that He wants us to learn something.

In His first example, Jesus speaks about a world or system in which there can be only one who is the greatest. There can be only one winner in this “system.” The climate and culture in this environment is one of competition. Everyone is competing for that No. 1 spot. In this example, Jesus had already given that spot to someone called John the Baptist.

John was the greatest within that category. Nobody could take his spot. It belonged to John!

Imagine being in an environment like that. That really sucks, right?

You put effort and hard work into it, all the while knowing that it’s unlikely that you’ll ever become the greatest because that spot has already been taken by someone else. You either are going to have to settle for second (or third) place ... at best. Or you could discredit “John” to try to gain the upper hand.

How frustrating!

In this world, John becomes the role model for greatness. Everyone within that worldview strives to become a little bit more like John in order to compete. Yet all who do know they will likely never match up to his greatness. They will never even get close. Everyone in that “box” knows they will always be inferior to the one who has already been proclaimed the greatest.

In our ministries we tend to do exactly the same thing the disciples did. We find the greatest one, model our ministries accordingly and strive to be as much like the No. 1 as we can be.

We do ourselves (and God) injustice by thinking like this. This mentality or paradigm creates hierarchy and competition, and it keeps us mediocre.

We focus on how we can earn more points on the scoreboard, not realizing the scoreboard we’re looking at is referencing how we rank in a world of mediocrity. The best thing that can happen to us within that “paradigm” is that you and I become the best mediocre versions of ourselves that we can possibly become.

If that’s the game you want to play, then you should certainly keep doing what you are doing. Who knows, maybe you can do a little better than that person next door.

Personally, I would like to be part of the other world Jesus talks about. That world is much, much bigger. In that world, even the smallest person is bigger than the winner in the other “world.”

A businessman once told me, “If you can’t be No. 1 in your category, you need to create a new category for yourself to be number 1 in.”

Those are some great words!

They made me think about God’s “categories” for His people.

Ask yourself this question: How many designated categories do you think God has for His people? The answer is so simple, yet so hard for us to understand. His “portfolio” of available categories for us is endless.

There is no end to the diversity in the plans and purposes He has for us.

By unique, authentic, divine design we all are created different. We all are endowed with gifts that have been given only to us and nobody else. Therefore, I need to play a role in the earth that only I can play.

Only I can dominate my designated category because, by definition, nobody else “fits.”

I am one-of-a-kind!

Again, this is easy to understand and even talk about. It’s another thing to actually live it.

God’s kingdom is a world that is created to facilitate extreme diversification. Instead of it being a hierarchy organized vertically, it is horizontally organized through diversification.

It requires a different way of thinking!

Once we grasp it and become who we are supposed to be in His image, we automatically trump the greatest in the inferior carnal world.

Isn’t that amazing? I sure think so!

It’s actually super logical and simple. Yet, at the same time, we tend to default to modeling ourselves according to ministry templates delivered to us by “the greatest.” As long as we try to model ourselves after categories that are dictated by others, we miss the mark, compare ourselves to others and are temped into tearing down others who are “greater” than us.

Joseph’s dreams were a threat to his brothers.

Who did he think he was?

There was no way they would bow down to their little brother’s dream, so they decided to eliminate him. He had become a threat, so he had to be dealt with. Surely, they weren’t going to just stand by and watch their brother build the tallest building in their town.

Little did they know that the same God that gave Joseph a dream wanted to give them a dream as well.

You see, the fact that Joseph had big dreams didn’t mean that his brothers couldn’t have big dreams as well. Their perceived threat was rooted in the same exact wrong mindset that told them that there can only be one “greatest.”

In God’s kingdom everybody can be a winner. No, not in some weird way where “everybody gets a trophy,” but yes, God wants to give a BIG dream to all of us.

Let me explain.

I often ask the question, “What happens when God shows up in a place? What happens when His glory manifests?

When you ask a question like that, you get all kinds of answers.

You get answers like this:

  • When God shows up the blind will see!

  • When God shows up the lame will walk!

  • When God shows up people will get saved!

  • When God shows up bondage is broken!

  • When God shows up even the dead will be raised!

Even though all those things are true, there is something far more profound that happens when God shows up. Let’s read about it:

“And it shall come to pass afterward
. That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28, NKJV).

As ministry leaders we’ve often been told that somehow we are the ones that need to provide vision for our congregations.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and this verse proves it.

As leaders we merely have to facilitate an environment where God can manifest Himself in our midst.


Because when He does, that old man who had lost his dream a long time ago will dream again.

That younger generation that was going nowhere … fast ... will suddenly receive vision!

Dreams and visions belong to all people, not just a few select ones.

Collectively we can impact culture and influence change as we manifest our individual dreams in the earth.
When God’s vision and His dream manifests through someone’s lives it makes us bow down.


Because the manifestation of His dream is the manifestation of His presence. His presence will makes every knee bow. It’s the nature of God’s presence. Throughout the Bible you see men and women fall on her face when He shows up. Bowing to someone’s dream is bowing to God Himself.

Sure, Joseph’s manifested dream asked his brothers to bow. But I’m convinced that Joseph was prepared to do the same thing to his brothers’ dreams if they would have given God the opportunity to give them a dream as well.

They had a role to play too.

But because they were blinded by the wrong paradigm, all they could see was Joseph’s dream.

Maybe we shouldn’t try to build the tallest building in town.

Maybe we should stop comparing ourselves to others and simply build the dream that God wants to give us.

Let’s dream together so we can change the world together!