Why money is important for true heart change?

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Heart

 

It is no secret that most people live beyond their means. I read an article a couple of weeks ago that cited just two out of five Americans spent less than their incomes in 2015. That means 60% of Americans spent all or more of what they made. “There was more month at the end of their money” as Dave Ramsey says.

Consider the mood and vibe inside those households. The stress of any unexpected repairs gets magnified. The freedom to give and help someone else is limited. The option for planning and dreaming about the future is removed. It is about survival.

Jesus made a direct connection between a person’s money and their heart. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21). If a person does not have margin in their money, what does that do to their heart? Having margin with money changes everything.

Addressing the relationship a person has with their treasure, is crucial to dealing with a person’s heart. If we avoid dealing with the issue of money, all other efforts will fail at prompting true heart-change in people. Unfortunately, we are not adept at approaching finances from the vantage of the heart.

There are good and bad ways of approaching the subject of how a person should relate to treasure. You have probably experienced both. The subject is avoided because of all the bad ways. If this issue is a key to seeing heart-change, it is worth figuring out good ways of approaching the subject.

I heard one of the best conversations on this subject on The Bible Project podcast. If this topic intrigues you, start by listening to that conversation.

What is the most significant question you are asking yourself currently about money?

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Are You Using the Most Powerful Tool You Have?

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If what you are doing is not becoming easier, you need to evaluate how well you are utilizing your most important tool.

If what you are doing is not becoming easier, you need to evaluate how well you are utilizing your most important tool.

Thrilled to share

Moses was told the in-laws were coming in town. Moses must have been thrilled to share with his father-in-law, Jethro, everything that had happened. The last time Jethro had been with his son-in-law, he was a fugitive. Now, he was the head-honcho of an entire tribe. Moses must have been beaming when Jethro delighted in the turn of events (Exodus 18:9). Jethro must have been relieved his daughter and grand-kids would finally be provided for.

This isn’t good

But then Jethro saw his son-in-law on the job. He knew the way Moses was going about it, he wasn’t going to be around for his family very long. Moses was working daybreak to nightfall. Jethro’s question was, “What is this you are doing for the people?” (Exodus 18:14) I don’t think that question says everything that Jethro was thinking. He was not impressed with Moses’ new occupation. Exodus 18:17 sums up Jethro’s opinion: “What you are doing is not good.”

A lighter load

Is your load heavy? Is the strain of ministry weighing you down? Maybe you need to hear the advice Jethro gave his son-in-law. He told Moses, “Make your load lighter by sharing the work.” The term we typically use is delegation. Could it be that God wants your load lighter?

First is priority

I would submit two reasons this is precisely what God wants. The first is priority. God wants you focusing on what is most important. This is what Jethro told Moses. He recognized Moses didn’t have time for his most important work. “You must be the people’s representatives before God and…teach them” (Exodus 18:19-20). Moses didn’t have time to pray for the people or teach them God’s ways, so they could avoid the problems they were bringing to Moses in the first place! These were to be Moses’ priority.

Second is opportunity

The second reason I see why God would want Moses to share the load is opportunity. Moses was a bottleneck. One channel only provides so much capacity. Sharing the work gave other capable people the opportunity to be a channel for solutions, so the people would “go home satisfied” (Exodus 18:23). It’s a win-win-win situation. The leader is happy, other leaders are being raised up, and the people are being served better.

Dust off your delegation

If you want to give priority to what God has asked you to do, learn to delegate. If you want to develop leaders, learn to delegate. The most beneficial and least used tools in a leader’s tool bag is delegation. I know it isn’t easy. I am as big of a control freak as anyone. We will have to take a deep breath in at least three areas, as we reach for delegation and pull it out of the tool bag.

  1. Responsibility. This often has to be given, at first, even before a person has proven themselves. Do you give others freedom, once you have given them the job?
  2. Authority. You have to give permission to make decisions. Can you relinquish control?
  3. Pulse. You have to figure out how they are hard wired and then tell them. Are you getting to know them, not just monitoring what they do?

If ministry is a strain and endurance is low, chances are you are poorly delegating. If you want to regain focus and see ministry opportunities surge, reach into your tool bag and dust off your delegation.

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What Is the State of the Mission?

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State of the Mission

You are privileged. You have been granted access to information not everyone has. You have heard the story of the creator God coming into his creation and giving himself to those he created. That’s the gospel of Jesus reconciling the world to himself. You have been granted access to that story.

Privileged

Not everyone is so privileged. There are over 4,000 peoples, with unique languages, ethnicities, and cultures, (over 1/4 of world population) who have no access to the gospel. Through the hundreds of missionaries of The Alliance, we have access to around 100 of those peoples. So there’s a lot of work do be done.

Access

There is an access divide. There are those who have access to the gospel message and those who have no access. The mission is to make disciples of each and every unique people group on the earth. Compared to all the resources available (both people and money,) for this mission, from those who have the privilege of having the gospel, only a sliver goes to those who have no access (3% of all missionaries and 1% of all the money).

Response

I am proud that The Alliance family has allocated over 80% of our international workers to those who have no or low access to the gospel. Jesus said, “Everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). We have been given much. I trust the emphasis of our mission strategy to go to the least reached is the right response to the demands of the need. May we never take for granted the privilege of what we have been given.

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Draw It Out

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HandWaterPump

What if developing leaders isn’t about what you put within them?

The best question ever

What is the best question you have ever been asked? I asked a friend to give me some personal coaching several years ago. He started by listening to where I thought I was in my personal development. I rehearsed the list of things I felt I was called to do. In addition, was a longer list of things I felt I should be doing or doing more of.

How would you answer?

He reminded me of the story of Blind Bart in Mark 10. You remember, he was the beggar on the roadside, shouting at Jesus for help. Jesus called him over and asked this question ”What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51) My friend then asked this powerful question: “How would you answer Jesus if he asked you that question?”

Asking good questions

It may sound simplistic, but leadership development starts with being a good listener. Being able to listen means getting the other person to communicate with you. The way to get a person to communicate, meaningfully communicate, is by asking good questions.

Impact of a powerful question

He went on to say, “Chad, you have this long list of all the things you should be doing for God. Also, you admitted the guilt you feel for not doing all of them. You need to stop should-ing all over yourself! Have you ever stop to ask what God wants to do for you? I hadn’t. It was a marker in my life. I began to see there was more I was to receive from God than accomplish for God. That is the impact of a powerful question.

Draw it out

You can’t develop someone until you know what you have to work with. You will not know what you have to work with until you know what is in them. You will not know what is in them until you draw it out of them. You can draw it out of them by asking good, appropriate, timely, purposeful, questions.

Get leaders talking

I have seven questions that I work from in all my interactions with leaders. I don’t know if anyone has caught on yet. I hope some have and I hope they have started the practice with others. I found these to be effective questions to get leaders talking.

Then listen

Then I listen. If something surfaces in which I feel I can contribute, I step in and offer my advice, make a connection, or bring someone else into the conversation who is needed. There is an input piece to development, but you will not know what is needed until you know what is already there.

Investment of listening

I don’t think you can play a part in developing a leader without this initial investment of listening. You have to become a world-class question asker and then actually listen to the answers the other gives you.

Not counseling

Development is not a counseling situation, in that, there isn’t a lot of dipping into the past. Development is about the future and moving forward toward the good works God has prepared beforehand for a person to walk into.

Not mentoring

As well, development is not a mentoring relationship, in that, it’s not largely about how a person is supposed to do things. Development is about coming along side to draw out what God has already been placing within him or her.

What is Jesus doing in them?

I am convinced the most effective way of drawing out of a person what Jesus is doing in them, is getting really (I mean really) good at asking questions.

Last week

Last week I began this conversation on leadership development by addressing why leaders have reluctance in developing leaders. You can read that article here.

Next week

Next week I will talk about the role delegation plays in developing other leaders. In the mean time, explore the SUMS Remix below on the question: How does developing someone else actually develop my leadership? There are some great exercises to further engage in this idea.

Question to consider:

What is one of the best questions someone has ever asked you?

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Stop Trying to Reach the World

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Deep Impact

Making an impact

There was a time when I thought God’s desire for my life was to make the biggest impact in the world I possibly could. I remember preaching a sermon about that idea, where I used the scene in the movie Deep Impact when the asteroid hits the earth to illustrate making an impact in the world. I now see how stupid that illustration was, since the impact of the asteroid only created destruction and devastation. But I digress.

Making disciples

I am beginning to receive the Great Commission as a great relief. God has not called me (or you) to save the world. Jesus did not say, “Go and make disciples of the whole world.” He said, “Go and make disciples of every people [ethne or people group].” (Matt 28:19) I am not denying God loves the whole world. We all know John 3:16. But we are not God. His mandate is more personal and specific. Let me try to explain.

Mission as project

It is easy for me to approach the mission as a project. Jesus was clear that the mission was to real people, in real places (Acts 1:8). Andy Crouch recently wrote how mission gets put in faceless, impersonal terms of “engaging culture”. He says, “Our mission is not primarily to ‘engage the culture’ but to ‘love our neighbor.’” (CT July/August 2016 page 34). Mission as a project to engage the culture becomes so murky. How do we really know if we are making a difference?

Let God make a difference

We are not called to make a difference. We are called to make disciples. Real, flesh-and-blood people, in real places, at this particular time in history. That is why I am glad the mission of The Alliance says nothing about reaching the world. We have agreed to work at the mission Jesus gave us: to make disciples. As Stephen Freeman wrote, “Let God make all the difference in the world.” The part of the mission God has invited us into is with people. He will work out the cosmic redemption himself.

Fostering inaction

This is where we as mission mobilizers have to be so careful. If we communicate mission as a global project, I believe they can become overwhelmed and paralyzed about what to do. Presenting a vision of reaching the world can actually foster inaction. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ words about global, impersonal worry becoming an escape from personal charity. This is why partnerships with the international workers who are present in the places we are not, become so important. We are to do the work we can and support those (real people) doing what we can’t.

Fulfilled together

Be encouraged that God does not expect you to impact the world. You are fulfilling his mandate as you are faithful in making disciples of real people in real places. None of us can accomplish the mission alone. By God’s design, it can only be fulfilled together.

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3 Reasons You Do Not Have More Leaders

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Leadership development

The best way to add leaders

What difference would it make in what you are trying to accomplish to have an additional, talented leader on the team? I would guess you would say, “It could only help! Send them my way!” Well, not so fast. Talented, contributing team members, do not typically just arrive on our doorstep. We all want fully-formed, mature people to join. They usually don’t come that way. The best way for you to add leaders to your team is to develop them.

What is your game plan?

What is your game plan for developing those around you? I have observed that most leaders are reluctant to spend their time and resources on developing leaders. I see three reasons for this.

  1. Producing, not reproducing
  2. Valuing things over people
  3. Fear

Who is a leader?

To be clear, I am speaking of developing leaders, not growing followers. A leader is someone who takes initiative for the benefit of others. A follower is a participant, but is not an initiator. A leader is willing to take on a level of responsibility and ownership that a follower is not required to carry.

A producer mindset

The first reason development does not happen is most leaders are content to be thought of as a producer. We get stuff done. Granted, there are certain things we must get done. We have to show results. But I would submit our main calling is not to produce. We should only be satisfied once we have become reproducers.

Intentional reproducing

When all our time is spent producing, there is no time left for developing others. Organizations do not drift into being an environment that develops people. If development is to happen it must be done with intentionality. If you are driven, however, by a need to show what you can get done, you will never have time to reproduce other leaders.

Our main job

This idea of reproducing is of vital importance to those of us leading in the church. Our main job description is developing people! You have been given to the church in order to equip others to serve (Ephesians 4:12). As I’m sure you know, this idea of equipping is about making a person complete. Our main job is to help others be who they are meant to be, so they can do what they are meant to do.

Investing in tools

The second reason development does not happen is we are reluctant to give the proper resources to it. We are happy to invest in systems, programs, buildings, and equipment. I can hear people say, “We need the right tools to do ministry.” But none of these matter without leaders using them. Another argument I can hear people say is “People leave, but resources stay.” What would you rather have: to not train them and have them stay; or to give them all the training you can and maybe they leave?

People appreciate, tools don’t

We should always prioritize investing in people over resources. People are the only assets that can continually appreciate. Systems become dated, buildings deteriorate, machinery wears down, and programs run their course. But a person can grow and grow and grow if another leader is intentional about that person’s development.

To illustrate:

Consider the way we view spending money on technology versus people. Most of us will gladly drop a thousand dollars on a computer that we know will be obsolete in a few years. But we hesitate to spend a hundred dollars to send someone to a conference or ten dollars on a book, that will further develop that person. The value we add to people, only appreciates, unlike the so-called investment made in office equipment.

We are scared

The third reason the development of leaders is not happening is fear. Some leaders are scared to develop other leaders. There are many factors why this is so. Tying into the reasons above, it is safer to produce and develop tools. It is safer to simply continue to do what you can do and spend money on hard assets. There is a sense of control maintaining your own work and acquiring things, the tools of ministry. The only problem is it is not what we are called to do. We are to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).

Leaders multiply the work

If you aren’t developing leaders, at best, you are only gathering followers. I say at best, because many people aren’t content to remain followers, so they will leave to look for someone who will develop them. Scared leaders drastically minimize what can be accomplished. You want others on your team who are taking initiative for the benefit of others. That is what leaders to. Followers are focused on benefiting themselves. Far less gets done with a group of followers.

Get a game plan for developing leaders

If you aren’t going to develop leaders, why would God bring you leaders in the first place? God wants people to grow, so he puts them where they will be developed. If you are bemoaning your lack of talented leaders, perhaps it is a result of your own lack of intentionality to develop leaders. Get a game plan in place and ask God to entrust you with leaders.

Next week:

Next week I will talk about how to start developing other leaders.

Question to consider:

Who are you intentionally developing around you?

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What Are You Telling People to Aim for?

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How do you explain discipleship to others?

How do you explain discipleship to others?

What should we be aiming for?

If a person asked you what she should be aiming for as a disciple, what would you tell her? If a guy came up to you and wanted to know what is expected of him as a follower of Jesus, what would you say? Do you have a grid or template for your discipleship process?
I was thinking recently of an email sent to me by a woman who started attending the church. She wanted to grow as a follower and commit herself to the church community. She asked how she could get more involved. The church was in the first year of getting established, so there were not a lot of programs to direct her to. I basically told her to pray about what Jesus wants her to do and let me know. It was a tad more involved than that, but not much. At the time, I thought I was giving her sage, pastoral advise. I realize now that I failed her.

A lot of Christians simply want to know what is expected of them. Discipleship is confusing to them. When they hear the phrase “follow Jesus” it is pretty nebulous. I am not saying they want to know what is the bare minimum. I am submitting they aren’t clear what they are to aim for in general.

We started a series a couple of weeks ago on what I think is one of the most simple, yet comprehensive discipleship models. It is about balancing three relationships: up, in, and out. You can watch the first message by David Riemenschneider here (http://bloomingdalechurch.org/up-in-out/). It is represented by the triangle below.

As followers of Jesus we can look to his life as a model for our life. The most obvious thing about Jesus’ life was the prominence of relationships. Jesus’ relationships can be condensed to these three areas: up, in, and out.

  • UP – Jesus had an intimate relationship with God. It was evidenced by supernatural power from God and by intimacy with God. This relationship was so prominent and palpable to those around him, the only thing recorded his disciples asked him to teach them, was how to pray to God like he prayed, so they could have that same intimacy.
  • IN – Jesus developed friends. He had a close community of people who relied on him. His friends counted on him for spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. He also relied on these friends for those same needs. He wanted to be with people. He allowed people to provide for him. Jesus had a group of friends he knew well and that he allowed to know him well.
  • OUT – Jesus connected well with outsiders. He had a heart for those far from God. He didn’t spend all his time serving and teaching his friends. Jesus welcomed others, even if his friends were against them. His inclusivity made many uncomfortable and was often misunderstood, but he modeled that everyone mattered.

This becomes a valuable grid to communicate discipleship to others. There are two things I believe need constant emphasis. First, discipleship is about relationship. The “up” relationship with God is about a close, abiding relationship. The “in” relationship with other disciples is about friendship with other Christ followers. The “out” relationship with those outside the community of faith is about our mission in the world. It is possible to emphasize each of these directions, without relationship.

The second thing I believe needs constant emphasis is discipleship is about balance. Jesus modeled a perfect balance between each of these. It is common to be strong in or over-emphasize one or two of these relationships at the expense of the other or others. Jesus did not prioritize one over the other. In fact, if he would have done that, he would not have perfectly modeled the other two. He understood the necessity of engaging all three equally.

Much more could be said about ways this grid could be used. I have come across many ministries that have developed tools using this idea. Below are links to resources for further exploration.

  1. Upward, Outward, Inward by Mitsuo Fukuda
  2. Building a Discipleship Culture by Mike Breen
  3. Resonate Huddle Material Week #3: Triangle

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