Monday, April 30, 2012

Driven By... (Goal Driven Strategy v. Vision Driven Strategy))

Before I start, just know this will be a departure from my normal writing style.  It seems more "textbook" as my lovely wife described it.  Just know, this isn't something God is working in my heart, just something I observed and wanted to share.

What drives you?  What is that specific thing that motivates you to achieve?  This is such a wide avenue to "drive", so let me focus it a little.  Last week I had the opportunity to talk with a friend who leads an amazing ministry.  He's a great leader and loves his flock.  I can see the glorious weight of that love for them every time we meet.  One of the topics we talked about is what drives the strategies we use to minister to the group we're called to.  What we came up with is two possibilities.  Either our strategy to reach people is motivated by specific goals, we'll call this Goal Driven Strategy (GDS) or we're motivated by a God given vision, we'll call this Vision Driven Strategy (VDS).

Obviously, goals are not a bad thing.  We all have goals.  Goals give us a point of focus to work toward and the ability to measure mission accomplishment.  Goals are important to accomplishing any mission.  But, when we start directing the strategy of our ministry (keeping in mind "ministry" is the way we serve and love others with the intent of introducing them to Jesus) in hopes of simply achieving specific goals, it becomes easy to lose sight of why we do what we do.  If our focus is goal accomplishment we can easily become content with the success of achieving those goals.  Our ambition and strategy to serve others will simply be task oriented and have little or no lasting impact.  Ultimately we can become so geared toward seeing goals accomplished, we trade it for seeing mission accomplished.

On the other hand, VDS stays focused on the vision that God gave in the beginning to see your mission accomplished.  That vision becomes the driving force behind the strategies we choose to use to serve others.  Of course, VDS includes goals, but isn't focused on them as the end.  In this, goals are simply stepping stones to seeing the vision fulfilled.  If  focused  on vision achievement, strategy has to look wholly different.  It allows for more flexibility in your strategy.  If you begin to work toward a goal you set and realize it is not helping to achieve the over all vision, it becomes easier to stop and refocus on what the ultimate vision is and redirect efforts to something that achieves that vision.  And, since seeing God's vision achieved is what everyone is focused on and desires, there are no hurt feelings when the idea is scrapped.  My mentor, Pastor Jeff Maness says, "Just because it's a good idea, doesn't make it a God idea."  Too right.  When teams realize what does and doesn't contribute to mission accomplishment and vision achievement, letting things go becomes easier. 

Our ultimate desire should be obedience to God.  We should desire to see the mission and vision of God accomplished.  When goals become our ultimate focus they become the strategy and mission and vision can suffer.  But when we're focused on vision and mission achievement, goals are simply part of our strategy.

Driven by vision,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Love = Obedience = Sacrifice

A couple months ago I had a conversation with a friend about what was more important, obedience or sacrifice. The point I was making was obedience to God’s voice leads to the surrender (sacrifice) and giving away of one’s self. It’s our sacrifice which reveals our obedience. He said obedience to God’s voice is far more important than our sacrifice, to which I 100% agree. Without obedience, there is no sacrifice that glorifies God. When I look back at the story of Jesus in the garden and recount His prayer before His crucifixion. Although He struggled and agonized in prayer over God’s plan for salvation, He ultimately submitted Himself and said “not My will, but Yours be done”. Then He obediently followed God's plan and willingly sacrificed all of Himself. His obedience HAD to result in sacrifice. I think we were essentially arguing different sides of the same coin. Regardless, that conversation has been stuck in my head (and the text history in my phone) for a couple months now.

Fast forward to my quiet time this morning and I read: But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

That’s all it took to spur a recounting of the above conversation and solidify how obedience and sacrifice fit together. Obedience is no doubt the measure of our maturity in Christ. You want to measure your "spiritual maturity"? Here's one question you can ask (this is not THE only measure): Do I obey God when He directs me? Obedience is no doubt how we measure our success in Christ. My church (Element Church in Cheyenne, WY) recently re-worded our core values. Our first core values reads: Obedience IS our success! - Our success will not be determined by outcome but by obedience to God. Obedience is the measure. Obedience is what matters to God.

Sacrifice should be a result of our obedience. That is not to say that people sacrifice things and think they are doing it to the glory of God. Sometimes we have our own preconceived notions as to what glorifies Him and we go to great lengths to do those things, regardless of whether they are disobedient to God (i.e. the case of Saul above). Those things are often our way of bolstering our ego making them the result of pride and intended to bring us recognition. This is far from obedience.

Jesus said, "If you love Me obey my commands." (John 14:15). Obedience is the result and evidence of our love. We obey because we love. Sometimes God will ask us to sacrifice something. Every time God will ask us to surrender ourselves and submit to Him. Our only response is obedience. In that regard, our sacrifice, our surrender, our submission should only be a result of our being obedient to God. Anything surrendered outside of obedience is chaff and doesn't matter because it doesn't glorify God.

Here's how it goes: Love = Obedience = Sacrifice.

Any other order doesn't add up the same.

Striving for obedience,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jesus' Greatest Miracle

While He walked the earth, Jesus did some amazing miracles.  He healed the blind (John 9:1-6 & Mark 10:46-52).  He healed the deaf (Mark 7:31-37)  He healed the lame (John 5:1-18).  He healed the leper (Mark 1:40-45).  He forgave sin (Luke 7:36-50).  He freed the captive (Mark 9:14-29).  He even raised a dead man to life (John 11:1-44).  While He was on earth, as a man, He healed many of those He came in contact with.  Sadly however, some went unhealed.  Some remained captive.  Some, though they still walked on earth, remained dead in their hearts.  Many showed up too late and missed Jesus by mere seconds.  John the Baptist (Jesus' cousin) would be beheaded in prison, hoping for Jesus to save him, without Jesus coming to his aid.  Jesus' humanity limited Him to the same time and space as the humans He came to save.  But His ultimate purpose wasn't to be seen in His walking the earth.  His ultimate purpose was not to heal only those He would come in contact with during His brief walk on earth as a man.  His ultimate purpose is seen in the miracle of this weekend we celebrate.

It was this weekend, some 2000 years ago, He accomplished His greatest miracle.  It was on this weekend He healed ALL the blind, He healed ALL the deaf, He healed ALL the lame, He healed ALL the unclean, He forgave ALL the sin, He released ALL the captives and He raised ALL the dead to life.  When Jesus was crucified on Friday, all the beatings and ridicule healed us from our afflictions (Isaiah 53:4-5).  His death on the cross paid for our sins (Isaiah 53:6).  But it was what happened on Sunday in which we find our hope.  On Sunday, oh that glorious day, He resurrected (raised) from the dead.  It was in His resurrection He gave ALL life (John 11:25).  In those three days, Jesus accomplished every miracle ever needed.

I know there are people who have been praying for physical healing and haven't received it.  To them I say this, keep praying.  Whether He heals you physically on this side of eternity is up to Him alone, but know this, you have life everlasting on the other side of eternity.  THIS healing is our wholeness in Christ.  We are reconciled to our loving and gloriously Holy God.  THAT is our healing.  THAT is our life.

The miracle of this weekend is this: Jesus healed ALL of us, once and for all, and gave ALL of us life everlasting.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Driven By Difficulty - Guest Post @ Crash Leadership

I was recently given the opportunity to guest post on one of my best friend, Curtis Marshall's, blog.  I've had the pleasure of serving in ministry with and living life with Curt and his family and in both areas, Curt has been a huge blessing and contiues to be.  Curt is putting out some amazing stuff over at Crash Leadership, so to be able to guest blog on his site was so cool.  If you've not read his stuff, head over there now and read on.  You can find Curt on Twitter and Facebook.

Here's the link to my guest post...

Driven By Difficulty