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Darfur Emanuel mit Sheikhs in Cafeteria 2007_edited.jpg
Darfur Emanuel mit Sheikhs in Cafeteria 2007.jpg

When I studied the qualities of effective movement catalysts, one trait that came as a total surprise to me was conscientiousness. Expectant faith, sure. Inspiring vision, certainly. Empowering, certainly. But conscientiousness? I hadn’t expected that to be a trait characterizing catalysts. 

In this blog you will read how conscientiousness manifests itself in the life of effective catalysts and the reason it is an essential building block in a catalyst’s character. I will also show you practical steps to develop your own conscientiousness.  

When the Father says, “You have been faithful” 

Soon after we had seen a movement break through among a Muslim people group in North Sudan, I was resting on my bed on a day off, exhausted. (Our very simple house did not have a comfy couch or armchair.) I was reflecting on what just had happened. Within less than two weeks we had witnessed several hundred Muslims come into the kingdom. More than 50 tribal chiefs had opened their heart to the Good News and invited us into their villages to share more about Jesus. I asked out loud: “Why? Why us, Father? Why are you entrusting this movement to us?” Within seconds after my third “Why,” I heard in my spirit the Father say, as clearly as an audible voice: “You have been faithful.”  

I was blown away. There was a human reason? We had faithfully taken any step He had shown us. And now, by God’s sovereign choice, we were in the right place, at the right time, to invite a receptive people group into the kingdom. 

I want to make sure I am not misunderstood. The Father did not say, “Because you are faithful, there is a movement.” But He wanted to draw my attention to the fact that the faithfulness of my team was a reason He had given us the privilege to partner with Him in catalyzing a movement. 


What conscientiousness looks like in catalysts 

Our research definition of conscientiousness was: The tendency to display self-discipline, act dutifully, and strive for achievement towards measures or expectations, related to the way in which one controls and directs their impulses.


Let us unpack the key elements. Conscientiousness involves: 

Tendency to display self-discipline: This involves controlling and directing one’s impulses. We humans are a bundle of impulses and desires. So, if we want to stay focused on what matters most, we need to control or direct them. Why? That leads us to the second element: 

Act dutifully: this means to do the right thing that is most essential right now, in light of our duty, our responsibility, or our assignment. 

Strive for achievement: Catalysts have a strong drive to get things done, to achieve significant outcomes (see my blog “Four Practices to Hone Your Drive for a Movement”). 

I love David Garrison’s phrase “whatever it’s going to take” (Garrion, 2004). Simply put,

conscientiousness means effective catalysts faithfully do 

whatever it’s gonna take to achieve the goal. 

Conscientiousness does not equal faithfulness, but it certainly leads to faithfulness.


Effective catalysts strongly exhibit conscientiousness. On a 1-5 Likert scale, their self-rating is 4.69 – a very high rating. It constitutes the fourth-highest rating of all catalytic qualities for effective catalysts. They also exhibit this quality more strongly than non-catalysts (even though it marks the third-highest rating quality of non-catalysts). See the table for a comparison. 

Table: Conscientiousness in Catalysts and Non-Catalysts









Average of all 22 qualities




The Kenyan catalyst Aila Tasse illustrates this quality in his life. After Aila had embraced a movement paradigm, he wanted to faithfully apply it himself at a small scale. In his recently published book, Cabbages in the Desert, Aila reports: “Before going out to start the work, I felt it important to personally apply what I had been teaching. So I followed the principles of Church Planting Movements, step by step. I began with prayer, wanting God to show me the way. I wanted to avoid following human understanding. I sought the Lord concerning this for about four months.” (Tasse & Coles, 2024: 59) 


Movement catalysts all started small, with little responsibility, little influence, and often little fruit. But they were faithful


Why would the trait of conscientiousness be so important in a catalyst? To find an answer, we turn to Scripture. 


The kingdom principle –  faithful over little, entrusted more 

Jesus devoted one entire parable to bringing this principle home to us – the Parable of the Talents (Mat. 25:14-30). Two of the servants steward faithfully what their master entrusted to them: the one who had been entrusted five talents gained five more, and the one who had been entrusted ten talents gained ten more. The master gives both the same assessment: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Mat. 25:21.23)


Faithful over little, entrusted more. 

At the end of the parable, so we don’t miss it, Jesus states the kingdom principle a third time: “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance… …” (Mat. 25:29, NLT). 


Faithful over little, entrusted more, entrusted an abundance.  

This is a kingdom principle Jesus establishes. The kingdom principle of faithful stewardship. 


In the parallel Parable of the Ten Minas in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes that the master praises his servant who stewarded the ten minas well. “Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.” (Luke 19:17, ESV) 

Faithful in a very little. In less than a little. But faithful. 


When I listen to the stories of those who today are effective movement catalysts, with hundreds of churches and thousands of disciples, they all had humble beginnings. They all started small, had little responsibility, little influence, and often little fruit. But they were faithful over little!  


Lots of “little” in the build-up to a movement 

I can testify to that principle from my own experience as a movement catalyst. Before movement breakthrough, we had plenty of “little” in our ministry. 

  • First, behind the scenes in my family’s study, in endless hours acquiring the difficult Arabic language 

  • Then, sharing the Good News one-on-one with our neighbors, most of whom were ordinary citizens without power or influence 

  • Starting a little house church with just a handful people 

  • Doing all the behind-the-scenes work of starting up an NGO, overcoming all the impediments the government threw at us  

  • Running an initially-small compassion ministry 

  • Doing all the tedious “little” things necessary just to live life in one of the most under-developed parts of the world 

  • Having “little” chats with tribal leaders to build trust 

  • Throwing in little Jesus references to spark spiritual conversations 

All this hard work took four years. All of it was “little,” behind the scenes, not at all grandiose. Apparently, our Master was watching how faithful we would be. 


All the “little” behind the scenes work you do - apparently our Master is watching how faithful you are. 


Conscientiousness characterizes effective leaders 

Empirical studies have identified conscientiousness as a trait of effective leaders. Conscientiousness is one of the five dimensions of the Big Five of personality, widely accepted among personality researchers (Goldberg, 1981; McCrae & Costa, 1985).  Robert Hogan and colleagues (Hogan, Curphy, and Hogan, 1994) conducted a meta-analysis of studies on leadership emergence in leaderless group discussions. They identified conscientiousness as a trait predictive of leader emergence. Timothy Judge and colleagues (Judge et al., 2002) who conducted the most comprehensive meta-analysis of trait studies, found that extraversion positively correlates with leadership (correlation of 0.31). 


Gang Wang and colleagues examined the contribution of CEOs in their companies’ performance (Wang et al., 2016) in a meta-analysis of 308 studies, looking in particular at the role leader traits play with current strategic action and future performance of the companies. The study verifies conscientiousness as one of the leader traits that correlate with current strategic actions of the entire company, and that is associated with future performance. 

Benefits of conscientiousness 

When looking at the benefits of conscientiousness and faithfulness, we immediately see why it is such an essential character trait in a leader. It brings these benefits: 

  • Enables steering steadily toward a great yet distant vision: A vision for a movement is often in the distant future, therefore steady progress over the long haul is required. Conscientiousness enables you to be faithful today with the one next step forward. And one step forward at a time makes us go a million miles eventually.  

  • Encourages a focus on what’s most essential: Constantly asking, “what is it gonna take to get to our vision?” brings focus to what is most essential right now so you can pursue that. 

  • Helps fight against the tyranny of the urgent: Such focus on the most essential strengthens the resolve to go against the many urgent things clamoring for our attention in the whirlwind of ministry. 

  • Builds perseverance amidst challenges: Persistence in the “small” matters builds perseverance for the bigger challenges, and it does so over the long haul  

  • Strengthens self-leadership: All of the above develops and strengthens our self-leadership. 

  • Strengthens leadership: Strengthened self-leadership strengthens our leadership. 


A Growth Path to develop conscientiousness 

Here are specific steps you can take, gleaned from the lives of effective movement catalysts and my own experience: 

  • Reflecting, in Father’s gracious presence, “What are the little (but important) things in my life? How faithful am I in each of them?” 

  • If your current ministry responsibility and influence feels comparatively little: reflecting on whether this affects how conscientious and faithful you are. 

  • Asking the Father, “In what area of my life would you like me to grow in my conscientiousness and faithfulness?” 

  • Growing yourself in self-discipline by deliberately acting dutifully in small matters to build the self-discipline muscle for bigger matters. 

  • Whenever you have given in to an impulse or desire rather than practicing self-discipline and act dutifully, identifying the breaking point; asking yourself: “What have been the factors that led me to give in?” 

  • Strengthening any breaking point you have identified. In your overall building of self-discipline, identify areas where your self-discipline is not yet strong enough to meet a certain challenge. Strengthening these areas is the most effective way to further strengthen your overall self-discipline muscles. 

  • Frequently asking (yourself, God, and your team), “What is it going to take for us to see a movement? And what is most essential right now?”  

  • Prioritizing what you have discerned as most essential, letting nothing distract you from carrying it out.  

  • Tracking your progress in that highest priority and sharing progress reports with a team member or accountability partner. 

How faithful will you be TODAY? 


What are your thoughts? 

I would love to hear from you. What are YOUR thoughts? Please leave a comment below. If you prefer to private message me, you can use the contact form.


You can learn more about the other Catalytic Qualities besides conscientiousness in my book Movement Catalysts. Order your copy here


If you found this blog helpful, I’d love for you to share it with others. Who in your network might benefit from it? 

Emanuel Prinz – Father’s Beloved & Movement Activist 



Garrison, David. Church Planting Movements: How God is Redeeming a Lost World. Midlothian: WIGTake Resources. 

Goldberg, Lewis R. 1981. Language and individual differences: The search for universals in personality lexicons, in Wheeler (ed.) Review of Personality and social psychology Vol. 1, Beverly Hills: Sage, 141–165. 

Hogan, Robert, Curphy, Gordon J., & Hogan, Joyce 1994. What we know about leadership: Effectiveness and personality. American Psychologist 49, 493-504.


Judge, Timothy A., Bono, Joyce E., Ilies, Remus, & Gerhardt, Megan W. 2002. Personality and leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review. The Journal of Applied Psychology 87, 765-780. 

 McCrae, Robert R. & Costa, Paul T. Jr. 1985. Comparison of EPI and psychoticism scales with measures of the five-factor model of personality. Personality and Individual Differences 6, 587-597. 

Tasse, Aila, & Coles, Dave. 2024. Cabbages in the Desert: How God Transformed a Devout Muslim and Catalyzed Disciple Making Movements among Unreached Peoples. Plano: Beyond.  

Wang, G., Holmes, R. M., Jr., Oh, I., & Zhu, W. 2016. Do CEOs matter to firm strategic actions and firm performance? A meta-analytic investigation based on upper echelons theory. Personnel Psychology, 69, 775–862.  

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