Thursday, June 22, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 21 – How the Ls Help Fulfill My Mission

This week I come to the fourth and final sentence of my Mission Statement. As I mentioned last week, each of the four sentences corresponds to one of the Ls, although this fact was unexpected because I developed the 4L Model over a decade after crafting my Mission. The fourth part of my Mission is the longest and encompasses two of my spiritual gifts (with teaching being primary) and my New Testament life verse. The statement is as follows:

I will externalize my faith by reaching out to others, teaching them God’s truths, and encouraging others to grow in their own relationship with Christ, so they may disciple others as well (Col. 1.28-29).

If you have followed this entire series (this is post 21 as the title indicates, see below for titles and address), you have read several times that the Love component is the most difficult for me. Lead, which is what this sentence represents, is more natural but no less difficult because we can choose to lead, but without followers, are we really leading? For me, leading begins with teaching which is a part of what Jesus said we must do to make disciples. But Jesus’ statement was more than just teaching, it was to “teach others to observe” which, in essence, is a form of leadership.

Of course, many leaders force others to observe, but my ideal is to encourage others to do so. This is done by showing others what needs to be done, encouraging them to do it, and yes, holding them accountable as well. But holding others accountable can be done with complete negativity (which often makes people wilt) or with a mindset to help others grow. I choose the latter.

As for my life verse, I wish I could say that I have the same zeal as Paul. I don’t, but this verse provides a goal for me to help others grow as God intended. I do realize that it is God’s strength and work within me that provides me the opportunity to teach and lead others. But I am still learning to allow God’s power to have full control.

Intersecting Steps and Mission

LEARN – I just mentioned that I am still learning to let God fully lead me. However, in the course of the statement for this week, I must continue to Learn if I am going to effectively Lead others. Learning will require new information, but it also requires new methodologies, new people, new cultures, etc. Ultimately, my learning is not for my own purposes, but so that others may know Jesus and then help others to know Him as well.

LIVE – As I mentioned above, teaching to observe is more than just the passing of information. It is living what is being taught. Externalizing my faith represents this aspect –as actions are the evidence of faith (James 1.22). Obviously, teaching is being active and encouraging should be as well. So, this aspect of leading others requires me to live out my faith.

LOVE – Many leaders do so for a sense of power and control. A Christian leader should never have this attitude, but as humans, we can slip into this mindset if we are not diligent. Colossians 1.28 serves as the what, but verse 29 is a reminder of the how – by the power of God. And, as always, the why for a Christian should always be characterized by love in fulfilling the Great Commandment – to love God and love others.

LEAD – The full intent of the fourth sentence in my Mission Statement is to Lead others to grow in Christ so they can then go for Christ. We are all called to make disciples – not of ourselves, but for Christ. If I Lead properly, Christ will be glorified.

CONCLUSION

This conclusion not only serves as the end of this post, but concludes a more detailed look at my Mission Statement as well. Over these past four weeks, I have briefly shared how the Ls feed into my Mission and now I will take one last look at my Mission with relation to Strategy and Steps as we then move back up to the final piece – my Vision. The series still has a few weeks to go, but hopefully, my efforts to explain my use of the Ls can help you clarify how you might use them as well. More importantly, I hope this exercise has encouraged you to develop your own set of goals and statements to guide you through your life, and particularly, as you serve the Lord.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-419.html
4L – Matthew 28.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-2819.html
4L – Spiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-4ls-part-1-spiral.html
4L – Vision – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-2-vision.html
4L – Mission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-3-mission.html
4L – Strategy – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-4-strategy.html
4L – Steps – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-5-steps.html
4L – Learn – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-6-learn.html
4L – Live – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-7-live.html
4L – Love – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part8-love.html
4L – Lead – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part9-lead.html
4L – BackUptheSpiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-10-back-up-spiral.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-11-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-12-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-13-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Read) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-14-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Nurture) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-15-how-ls-help-me-to.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Summary) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-16-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-17-how-ls-help-fulfill.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission (Item 1) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-18-how-ls-help-fulfill.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission (Item 2) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/06/using-4ls-part-19-how-4ls-help-fulfill.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission (Item 3) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/06/using-4ls-part-20-how-4ls-help-fulfill.html

Friday, June 16, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 20 – How the Ls Help Fulfill My Mission

Over the past two weeks, I have been examining my mission statement one sentence at a time. I created the statement long before I conceived of the 4L Model of Discipleship. However, each sentence corresponds to one of the Ls although the order is a bit different with Love shifting to the front. So, the first sentence related to my need to Love. Last week was about my need to Learn. The third sentence is very short, but is quite important, and relates to Live.


I will trust in His provision (Ps. 73.25-26).

Each part of my mission is challenging at times. This one is especially so, in some ways, and yet I routinely see God providing in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. One of the biggest challenges for this area stems from my past. My undergrad was in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. I remember one particular assignment in a class related to the monetary principles of banking. I broke the system – in a favorable way for me. I did not cheat in any way, I was just able to ensure that all of the bonds to be purchased would end up with me at the most favorable of prices. Because of this instance, I determined that I understood the principles fairly well and thought I could beat the banks at their business. Wrong! Let’s just say that banks have much bigger buildings than that singular house in which I live. So, because of my arrogance, I put my wife and I in a terrible hole early in our marriage – a hole from which we are still trying to remove ourselves (in part because of some other issues over the past several years).

But during these past 20 years, I have seen God step in many time to provide when I did not know what might happen. In all honesty, apart from His grace, we would have been crippled financially. Instead, we have hope and a plan to pay off the remaining debt rather quickly, Lord willing.

Because of my past challenges and my need to trust God, Psalm 73.25-26 represent my life verses from the Old Testament. The verses serve as a reminder that, ultimately, I do only want God despite the earthly temptations. Psalm 73, on the whole, is a good reminder that the things we want and the envy we may have ultimately matters to nothing in the end, so we should let our heart’s desire be for God. At times, this desire is much easier said than done, and sometimes that type of desire is not even said so easily. But the idea is included in my Mission because it is important to me and if I do keep my priorities straight, I will be taking the proper steps towards the realization of my Vision – to be the man God wants me to be.

So, how does this sentence in my Mission Statement relate to the 4Ls?

Intersecting Steps and Mission

LEARN – I shared a bit of my history related to financial matters above. As I mentioned my arrogance created many financial challenges for me (and my wife and soon after, our children) over the years. I had to learn that I could not beat a financial institution at their own business and that my arrogance was foolish. While I have learned much over the years, I am still learning to rely on God as He leads me to consider new ideas and ventures for which I am not overly equipped. Yet, He continues to provide. And I continue to learn. And the cycle continues.


LIVE – While I still make mistakes, learning to trust God for His provision has allowed us to pay off a tremendous amount of debt over the past few years. But the real blessing for me has been to see how God provided for my schooling. Frankly, I am not certain how I could have afforded a masters or doctoral degree except that God literally used the hands of others to provide. I can think of a few very timely and generous donations received during my masters. I recall how He provided insight to fund my doctoral work. I did not incur any debt for either of those degrees, and the money that paid for them would not be available to me now had I not been enrolled. That is truly God at work. And that is why I must continue to Live by trusting Him for provision in all things – and particularly where I know He is leading.


LOVE – Love requires trust. And trust is the primary verb in the sentence shared above. As I trust Him more I can love Him better. As I learn to love Him better, I can trust Him more. The equation is simple – if I want all “these things” then I must 
seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6.33).


LEAD – The Lead aspect is quite difficult in this sentence. While I may be able to Learn, Live, and Love as I trust God for His provision, helping others to Live and Love is difficult. Like the Israelites with the manna, we all want more (or different) over time. Paul was able to say “I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me” with relation to being able to live in plenty and in want. To make such a claim may help people see it is possible too trust God for His provision, but to make the claim oneself requires a measure of personal experience. Nonetheless, I must share my experience of God’s providence to help others begin to see Him working in their lives as well.


CONCLUSION


The third sentence of my Mission Statement may be short, but it is important. As I truly Live by relying on God’s provision, I realize more and more that I am at His mercy for everything I desire, have, everything I am, and everything I will become. In a culture that says we can make our own future, this six word sentence reminds me of a deeper truth. Certainly, we can (and must) plan our way, but it is God who directs our steps (Proverbs 16.9). As I take the proper Steps to Learn, Live, Love, and Lead based upon His provision, I will hopefully help others to sense His provision in their lives too. This last Step of leading others will be the focus of next week’s blog – the final sentence of my Mission Statement.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-419.html
4L – Matthew 28.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-2819.html
4L – Spiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-4ls-part-1-spiral.html
4L – Vision – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-2-vision.html
4L – Mission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-3-mission.html
4L – Strategy – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-4-strategy.html
4L – Steps – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-5-steps.html
4L – Learn – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-6-learn.html
4L – Live – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-7-live.html
4L – Love – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part8-love.html
4L – Lead – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part9-lead.html
4L – BackUptheSpiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-10-back-up-spiral.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-11-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-12-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-13-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Read) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-14-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Nurture) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-15-how-ls-help-me-to.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Summary) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-16-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-17-how-ls-help-fulfill.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission (Item 1) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-18-how-ls-help-fulfill.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission (Item 2)  http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/06/using-4ls-part-19-how-4ls-help-fulfill.html

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 19 – How the 4Ls Help Fulfill My Mission – Item 2

Last week, I began to break down my Mission Statement by reviewing the first sentence and the fact that it all starts with my love for Christ. (Again, all posts for the series can be found at the end of the the post.) This week, I will cover the second sentence of the statement, which I have labeled as Item 2. Notice that this item contains the first of my spiritual gifts as well (in bold).

I will seek to grow in my knowledge and understanding of God’s truths, and His will for my life.

While the first sentence (last week) focused on the idea of LOVE, this sentence reflects my desire to LEARN.  The word grow, as used here, is obviously meant from a mental, not physical perspective as evidence by the words knowledge, understanding, and truth. Then that knowledge should impact how I live (influencing the will).

Although teaching is my primary spiritual gift, knowledge is the first of the three gifts included in my mission statement.* By knowledge, I do not mean, or pretend, that I know it all. While I do have a doctorate, I know I am rarely, if ever, the smartest person in any room. I do not wish to present a false humility because I do realize God has given me a great capacity to know and understand His Word (and a couple of other areas). So what I know, I tend to know very well, but I am continually amazed at the overall vastness of information that can be known, and realize some individuals (including without formal education) know a great deal about a great many matters. That said, what separates many from continuing to grow in their knowledge is a lack of desire to learn more. Therefore, the sentence above begins with my desire to “seek to grow” – continuously. As I have written elsewhere, my number one mantra in life is “When you stop learning, you start dying.”

* I am fully aware of the various challenges with the various gift inventories that are used, but these inventories can help us to gain an understanding of what God may be doing in and through us. As we apply our gifts, others should confirm our giftedness accordingly.

So, how does this sentence in my Mission Statement relate to the 4Ls?


Intersecting Steps and Mission

LEARN – As I mentioned in the blog two weeks ago (Part 17, see list below), each sentence relates to one of the Steps. This week’s Step is LEARN (I discussed the reason for the changed order last week – Part 18). LOVE for Jesus is what compels me to serve, but unless I LEARN, how can I serve? I will not know who He is, what He wants, etc. In a practical sense, I will not even know what to do. Thus, the Step of LEARN is critical for me to apply His will to my life.

LIVE – The second sentence of my Mission is all about intake – knowing and understanding God's truth and will. But as image-bearers of God (Genesis 1.26-27), we are made to give, to serve, to love. Thus, what we intake is meant to prepare us to be better able to give and to serve and to love. If we simply continue to take in information without an outlet to dispense what we know, we become like a battery that is left charging for months and years – eventually we will corrode because the casing is too full. A rechargeable battery must be used then recharged regularly to be effective – and so must we.

LOVE – A few times in this series I have alluded to the fact I love to LEARN. As I better understand God and what He has done for me and as I better understand His will and what He wants from me, then I will (super) naturally follow His lead and love not only what I do, but who I serve while doing it.

LEAD – The idea of LEAD has already been implied in the three previous Steps. What I LEARN should not be just for my benefit, but rather should help me to help others. As I am better prepared to serve God, I must equip others to do the same. Ultimately, this Step is fulfilled through the spiritual gift of teaching, but I cannot teach what I do not know.

CONCLUSION

My Mission Statement began with the idea of my need to LOVE Jesus. However, in a very real sense, the basis for that love began with some aspect of knowledge. Until I knew of Jesus, I could not truly know Jesus. Until I knew Jesus I could not truly love Jesus. Thus, I had a need to LEARN about Jesus in order to grow to love Him, and I still do. The more I know of who He is and what He has done, the more I should love Him. Thus, I must seek to continue to grow in my knowledge of God and His Word. I must continue to seek to grow in my understanding of His truths. I must continue to seek to grow in understanding His will. He is an infinite God and I am a finite man and, therefore, I will barely scratch the surface of all that could be learned. But as I do, my prayer is that my living will reflect my learning and that I can help others to do the same.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-419.html
4L – Matthew 28.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-2819.html
4L – Spiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-4ls-part-1-spiral.html
4L – Vision – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-2-vision.html
4L – Mission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-3-mission.html
4L – Strategy – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-4-strategy.html
4L – Steps – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-5-steps.html
4L – Learn – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-6-learn.html
4L – Live – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-7-live.html
4L – Love – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part8-love.html
4L – Lead – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part9-lead.html
4L – BackUptheSpiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-10-back-up-spiral.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-11-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-12-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-13-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Read) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-14-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Nurture) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-15-how-ls-help-me-to.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Summary) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-16-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-17-how-ls-help-fulfill.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission (Item 1) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-18-how-ls-help-fulfill.html

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 18 – How Ls Help Fulfill My Mission – Item 1

This week, I continue my look at my Mission statement by beginning with the first sentence.


I will love my Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ, submit to His authority in my life, and rely on His power to use my God-given abilities to serve others – beginning with my family (Philippians 2:3-4).

As I mentioned last week, each of the items related to my Mission correspond to one of the four “Ls” – purposefully. This item relates to Love. If you have been following this series, I hope you see how integrated these Ls are in my life. The reason that they are is that they are so apparent throughout the Bible (not to mention Matthew 4.19 and Matthew 28.19, see those posts for details). Jesus had disciples (the word means learner), lives so we might live, commanded us to love, and commissioned us to lead. So, it is hard for me to distance myself from these ideas – and thus from the 4Ls. So how do the Ls relate to the first portion of my Mission Statement?

Intersecting Steps and Mission

LEARN – First, I am a sinner. Thus, my instincts are not to love anyone but myself. Frankly, when I allow myself to do so, I am quite good at loving myself. Thus, I need to be constantly reminded of what Jesus has done for me. As I am reminded, I find it easier to love Him and to serve others. Reminders are necessary, but learning also requires me to know where He is leading me (for proper submission), what He wants to do through me (rely on His power), and how He wants me to do it (God-given abilities).

LIVE – Notice the verbs in my Mission. Of course, love is first, but how will I prove my love for Him? I will submit, rely, and serve. Admittedly, these verbs may be considered rather subjective, but they do not need to be considered passive. Regardless, by looking back, I can discern how well I have submitted, where I have relied on my strength instead of His, and whether or not I have served others (or if I was selfish – only appearing to serve others while doing so for myself). Evaluation is an important part of living. To truly live means we cannot live in the past, but we must reflect so we can learn from it. As Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

LOVE – This Step is likely self-explanatory given that Love is in the statement. But Jesus said that we show we love Him by doing what He has commanded (John 14.15, 21). That is why the previous Step of Live is important here. By submitting, relying (trusting), and serving I am keeping three commands that Jesus gave which, in turn, allow me to keep the greatest commandment(s) mentioned in Mark 12.29-31. In truth, I submit to Him and rely on Him while serving Him. But I serve Him by serving others which fully encompasses His command to love.

LEAD – Many people serve others in incredible ways. Many organizations do the same. Ultimately, whether the people or organizations share Christian ideals or not, the diversity of help available is God’s grace being manifest through others. However, for those persons or organizations that are decidedly Christian, the service rendered is to be done in Jesus name for the glory of God (Matthew 5.16; Colossians 3.17). Thus, my loving Jesus for who He is and what He has done causes me to serve in His name that others might know Him as their Lord and Savior as well.

CONCLUSION

My Mission is filled with Scripture to guide me, verbs to help me focus, gifts that I must use, and goals to which I aspire. But whatever I do for God it must begin with an appreciation for what He has done for me. Thus, my Mission begins with an expression to LOVE Him. I am not perfect at this by any means, and so I go on learning, seeking His forgiveness, while allowing Him to mold me. It is through learning and molding (and re-molding) that I am able to move to the remaining items of my mission statement. But moving forward will always require me to look back – not only to evaluate myself, but to remember His sacrifice for me as well.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-419.html
4L – Matthew 28.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-2819.html
4L – Spiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-4ls-part-1-spiral.html
4L – Vision – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-2-vision.html
4L – Mission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-3-mission.html
4L – Strategy – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-4-strategy.html
4L – Steps – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-5-steps.html
4L – Learn – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-6-learn.html
4L – Live – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-7-live.html
4L – Love – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part8-love.html
4L – Lead – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part9-lead.html
4L – BackUptheSpiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-10-back-up-spiral.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-11-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-12-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-13-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Read) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-14-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Nurture) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-15-how-ls-help-me-to.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Summary) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-16-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpFulfillMission –http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-17-how-ls-help-fulfill.html

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 17 – How the Ls Help Fulfill My Mission

This week, I move up another level to my mission. Many people do not make a distinction between vision and mission, but I think a distinction is helpful. To me, Vision is what you see when the Mission is accomplished. An example I use for this relates to travelling. Let me state the goal of going to the Grand Canyon. The Vision is to “see” the Grand Canyon. The Mission is getting there to see it. The Strategy is how you will get there. The Steps are the individual pieces of the how. To briefly clarify, let me present it this way.

Vision:  See the Grand Canyon
Mission:  I want to go to the Grand Canyon.
Strategy:  I will drive to the Grand Canyon with my wife while we are on vacation.
Steps:  I will take vacation on certain dates, rent a vehicle, plan a route to drive, determine where to say along the way, find grocery stores to buy food, save money for the trip, etc.

Of course, this example is limited, but it shows how I view the overall process. So, with that, let me provide a reminder of my Mission:

I will love my Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ, submit to His authority in my life, and rely on His power to use my God-given abilities to serve others – beginning with my family (Phil. 2:3-4).  I will seek to grow in my knowledge and understanding of God’s truths, and His will for my life.  I will trust in His provision (Ps. 73.25-26).  I will externalize my faith by reaching out to others, teaching them God’s truths, and encouraging others to grow in their own relationship with Christ, so they may disciple others as well (Col. 1.28-29).

This statement contains many different pieces. It has four different action components, three different gifts, and three parts of Scripture to guide me. Over the next several weeks, I will break down the action items and gifts as they relate to the steps. For now, let me list them here and provide a brief rationale for the Scripture references.

Item 1 – Love Jesus (including submitting to Him and relying on Him while serving others)
Item 2 – Learn about God (His truth and His will)
Item 3 – Live by His grace (Trust in his provision)
Item 4 – Lead others so they may lead others (Externalize my faith)

A quick look at these four items reveals the 4Ls although in a different order. I developed this Mission Statement many years ago (15-20) although it has been tweaked some in recent years (e.g. the last phrase was added a couple of years ago). When I developed it I had not considered the 4Ls yet, but I do not see any reason to alter the order of the Mission Statement to match (and think the 4Ls are ordered appropriately).

Gift 1 – Knowledge (along with wisdom knowledge is among my top Spiritual gifts)
Gift 2 – Teaching (primary Spiritual gift)
Gift 3 – Encouraging (another top gift of mine as given by the Holy Spirit)

As my Mission states, these items and gifts must be used in tandem with any abilities I have (talents, skills, etc. – also given by God, but these items I consider to be natural or developed through human means) to complete the task God has for me. As I fulfill my Mission, then I will ultimately achieve my Vision of being the man God wants me to be. But, as I have mentioned throughout this series, each level of my overall plan (Vision, Mission, Strategy, Steps) is interdependent on the other levels to be properly executed. 

Next week, I will begin to break down how each L fits within the context of the Mission. Again, this may already be somewhat apparent (especially with Items 1-4 above), but having come this far in this series, I want to see it through to completion. Therefore, I will begin this breakdown next week.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-419.html
4L – Matthew 28.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-2819.html
4L – Spiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-4ls-part-1-spiral.html
4L – Vision – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-2-vision.html
4L – Mission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-3-mission.html
4L – Strategy – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-4-strategy.html
4L – Steps – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-5-steps.html
4L – Learn – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-6-learn.html
4L – Live – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-7-live.html
4L – Love – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part8-love.html
4L – Lead – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part9-lead.html
4L – BackUptheSpiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-10-back-up-spiral.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-11-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-12-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-13-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Read) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-14-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Nurture) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-15-how-ls-help-me-to.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Summary) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-16-how-ls-help-me-learn.html

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 16 – How the Ls Help Me Learn (Summary)

I have stated a few times in the previous posts that my Strategy (LEARN) cannot be broken into pieces as easily as I seem to have written about each aspect. While each letter has its own meaning and purpose, if I focus on the A (Act) without the L (Love), then I am not truly E (Exercising) discipline and will be unable to N (Nurture) in a way that I may have R (Read) to be helpful or necessary. (That was a strange sentence!)

My point is that each of the five elements (L-E-A-R-N) that constitute my Strategy must all work together if I am truly to accomplish my goals (Mission). To over-focus on any one aspect will cause complications. For instance, if I only focus on Nurturing others, then eventually I will have nothing else to give because I am not building myself along the way (i.e. Exercise, Read) – like a battery that is never recharged. But if I only Exercise or Read for my own purposes (i.e. not Act, Nurture), then I will be like a rechargeable battery that is never unplugged from a power source and eventually corrodes from a lack of use.

The last several posts have covered how each element of my Strategy is aided by the 4L Model of Discipleship. Each of the Ls contributes to each element individually, but the true benefit is when each L and each portion of my Strategy are reviewed over time to see how they blend together to help me grow personally, but also to serve others which fulfills my Mission. Let me provide an example.

Last year, I took my first trip to Kenya (of many, Lord willing). The Lord laid Kenya on my heart many years ago, but due to a variety of reasons (some valid, some just excuses), I had not gone. Thus, I had taken some time to LEARN about Kenya over the past 15 years or so. I had come to Love some of what I knew. I had to Exercise discipline (spiritual, financial, and physical) to go. I had to Act to actually make it there. I Read to prepare myself, and while I was there I Nurtured pastors (primarily) through training. In doing so, I made progress in fulfilling my Mission statement on which I will begin to focus next week. But, for now, let me apply the Steps to the trip.

Learn – I went with a team whose leader (Scott) had been a few times previously. I was “along for the ride” so to speak. I had my responsibilities when we arrived at our destination, but for the first day or so I felt like I was completely at the mercy of our leader because I did not know where to go, what to do, etc. On the other hand, when we arrived at our final destination, many people came up to Scott and greeted him warmly because of his return. I trusted that the proper preparations were made (lodging, food, etc.) – and they were. I learned a great deal on the trip – about logistics, about the people, and about myself. But I had to learn as we went along.

Live – On our first day of training, I watched as Scott began to train the pastors. We had been asked to teach some specific content and Scott trained for 1 1/2 days, I trained for another 1 1/2 days, and we team-taught for part of a fourth day. When we were not training, we took turns going with the rest of our team to share Bible stores in the bush (desert). Thus, for me, the primary objective was to teach (pastors) and share stories with the people of the desert. I did that. That is the step of Live – to do what is asked or, in a biblical sense, commanded. In a most literal way, I was making disciples of a nation by going, baptizing (we baptized several while there), and teaching them to observe the words of Jesus (Matthew 28.19-20). But, to do (Live) needs to move to care (Love) or else it is just going through the motions.

Love – This past week, Scott reminded me of when the “love” portion began for me. It was our second morning in Kenya and our first training pastors. Scott began the day training and after observing him while watching the response and attentiveness of the pastors in the room (about 35), I told him, “I am coming back.” Over the course of the rest of the week, I developed three very close friendships (we still communicate very regularly) and established good connections with many who were there for the training. I also connected with a pastor in the bush who had a need that our church was able to meet after I returned. Not a day goes by that I do not think about my brothers and sisters in Kenya and I eagerly await my chance to return there early next year. Why? Because I Love what I do (teach), and who I am teaching, and for Whom I do it.

Lead – Having been to Kenya now, and desiring to go back, I am now preparing to lead my own team. Currently, I have 4 or 5 others who will be joining me early next year. Scott is leading another team a few months prior, so now we are able to expand our ministry opportunities. It will be different to go without Scott and the others that went last year (the rest of that group and a couple of others are going back together), but the timing did not work for me. Plus, it is my turn to lead. I hope to lead as effectively as Scott did. The process may not be as smooth since this is only my second trip, but a few years ago, he led a team there without any experience in Kenya. And leading others is what we, as Christ followers, are to do. We learn from others, so that we can lead others. That is the essence of discipleship. Thus, now that I have learned and lived a little, and started to love a great deal, I must lead others to do the same.

(I will soon announce a different way in which I will Lead which developed from my time in Kenya. This announcement will likely be in line with a new blog as well.)

Thus, to move back to my Strategy, I will need to focus on each aspect of L-E-A-R-N while collectively processing the aspects as well to prepare the team to go in 2018. As I do, I will take another step towards fulfilling my Mission in serving God as He has not only called me to do, but in a way that He has designed me as well.

Next week, I will begin to share how my Mission Statement relates to this entire process, specifically relating it to each Step of the 4L Model of Discipleship.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-419.html
4L – Matthew 28.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-2819.html
4L – Spiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-4ls-part-1-spiral.html
4L – Vision – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-2-vision.html
4L – Mission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-3-mission.html
4L – Strategy – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-4-strategy.html
4L – Steps – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-5-steps.html
4L – Learn – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-6-learn.html
4L – Live – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-7-live.html
4L – Love – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part8-love.html
4L – Lead – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part9-lead.html
4L – BackUptheSpiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-10-back-up-spiral.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-11-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-12-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-13-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Read) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-14-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Nurture) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/05/using-4ls-part-15-how-ls-help-me-to.html

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 15 – How the Ls Help Me to LEARN (Nurture)

This week, we come to the last of the letters related to my Strategy. That letter is N, and it stands for Nurture. My use of the word nurture is in the sense of training, including through support and encouragement. In a biblical sense, it is the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4.12). Specifically, my clarifying statement for Nurture is:

Nurture others around me to find God’s purpose for their lives. (Ephesians 4.12-13)

Providing care (one aspect of nurture) is not always easy for me, but desiring to see people grow is. As such, this element of my Strategy is the culmination of the other elements – Love, Exercise, Action, and Read.

The Essence of My Strategy

As I have said elsewhere (again, the entire series is listed at the conclusion of this post), none of the five elements of my Strategy can stand alone. They are interconnected – woven together in ways that still astound me even though I developed the strategy! But Nurture is the foundation from whence the others grew. That is, for the last couple of decades seeing others grow in their faith and living it out has been of utmost importance to me. The truth is that I fail at properly nurturing others often, but that is a part of why LEARN is the Strategy. If I continue to learn from my mistakes, changing my approach to give everyone involved a better opportunity to succeed the next time, then I am doing my part.

The focus of my Nurture has changed over this past year. Over the past many years, I believed my purpose was “to serve a church and in an institution to train the next generation of ministers.” The former was why I pursued my masters degree, the latter made a doctorate necessary. I remember clearly when and where I was when each of these aspects was made clear to me. But late last summer the call changed. My purpose is now “to serve the church by training the next generation of ministers.” The idea of nurturing has not changed, but instead of “a” church, my focus is extending to “the” church, at large. Furthermore, instead of just within an institution, I have been called beyond formal education to seek new avenues to train ministers. While I still plan to serve as pastor of my current church and teach in the seminary where I serve as an adjunct professor, I am now partnering with others to explore some new opportunities that God has made apparent (more on this in an upcoming post – probably late May).

So, the idea of Nurture is still very prevalent – probably moreso. However, a part of that focus is now changing as I continue to apply my Strategy by taking the Steps God has for me – all in seeking to live out my Mission and fulfill my Vision of becoming the man God wants me to be.

Intersecting Strategy and Steps

I mentioned above that each of the elements of the Strategy are well connected. Likewise, the Steps must relate to each element as well. The following is an expression of that relationship.

LEARN – To properly Nurture (equip) others, I must have knowledge of what I am training or know where the person can get the equipping they need. I do not pretend to know much about most subjects, but what I know I tend to know very well. That said, I must continue to learn myself, but in the areas I do not have expertise, I can allow others (who do have expertise) to provide training and guidance for those being equipped. Thus, a part of nurturing others is to know what they need, what I know, and where to find resources to fill in the gaps.

LIVE – Education and training is not simply about head knowledge. Educational theory has continually expanded this thought, but many churches have (for far too long) focused only on knowing, forsaking the doing. To make disciples, to equip, and to nurture requires doing alongside those who are learning. Thus, it is imperative to LIVE while nurturing others to grow in their understanding.

LOVE – Again, the love of others cannot be overlooked, but neither can we simply LIVE without LOVE. As I Nurture others, it must be because I love them, but it also must be because I love what I am doing. Certainly, fatigue and frustration set in at times, but when we LOVE what we do, we want to share it with others. When we are able to also share our lives with people we love and, especially, those who are learning to love what we love, then the nurturing is a great deal of fun!

LEAD – This step should be evident. While leaders often learn from those they are leading, nurturing others through training and education requires both a leader and a follower (or many followers). And, the leader who practices what s/he preaches (LIVE) and does so with (LOVE) will be most effective. That is what I want to be.

Conclusion

Next week, I will tie the Strategy together in summary form before we increase our altitude once again to look at how the Steps (and Strategy) impact my Mission.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-419.html
4L – Matthew 28.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-2819.html
4L – Spiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-4ls-part-1-spiral.html
4L – Vision – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-2-vision.html
4L – Mission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-3-mission.html
4L – Strategy – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-4-strategy.html
4L – Steps – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-5-steps.html
4L – Learn – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-6-learn.html
4L – Live – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-7-live.html
4L – Love – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part8-love.html
4L – Lead – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part9-lead.html
4L – BackUptheSpiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-10-back-up-spiral.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-11-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-12-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-13-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Read) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-14-how-ls-help-me-learn.html

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 14 – How the Ls Help Me LEARN (Read)

The next letter to cover regarding my Strategy is R for Read. For those that knew me well when I was young (e.g. my mother), to consider that I might one day be a reader would have been wasted time. I did not like to read as a teenager, and did not take the time to read in my early twenties. In my late twenties and early thirties I began to read more (especially when I began seminary), and now I have a hard time thinking what a life without books would mean. Thus, the inclusion of reading as a part of my Strategy is a no-brainer.

A Time for Clichés

Leaders are Readers

As a leader of a church, a teacher of seminary students, a trainer of pastors, and a student of life, I must read. I have been blessed to receive a good education and have many in my life that have supported me in many ways. However, the world changes fast and the amount of information I do not know far exceeds the small bit that I do know. The way to bridge the gap is to read. By reading, I not only learn, but I am then better prepared to equip others to follow God’s calling on their lives.


Read  for Information and  for Inspiration


While I enjoy reading many types of books, I have not found time to read much fiction for man years. That may happen again soon, but while finishing two degrees and reading (mostly) what was assigned, I am now focused on reading books that I wanted to read, but didn’t have the time. But different types of reading require different sources. In general, newspapers, magazines, and journals are great sources of information. Books are better for inspiration. Again, I realize it depends on what is being read, but, in a general sense, this statement is true. My current focus is on books, but I am (mostly) keeping up with the periodicals that come as well.

READ-eem the Time


Ephesians 5.16 challenges us to “make the best use of time” (ESV). The Greek literally means to “buy back the time” which is the same as saying “redeem.” Although I do not wish to misuse Scripture, one way I apply this verse to my life is to remind myself of this verse by the cliché above. When I read, I am buying back time that I might have spent doing something poorly. Consider, for instance, something related to church leadership. I can continue to do what I have been doing (and perhaps incorrectly) or I can change my approach because of something I have read which might save (or “buy-back”) time I might have lost later.

Intersecting Strategy and Steps

To truly apply this part of my Strategy the reading I do must be quality. Many quality resources will never be read by me, however, I must be selective so as not to waste my time either. Currently, I am focusing on certain types of books (with a goal of one book per week this year), but in future years, I plan to include many genres. The intersection this week is very straightforward, so I will add a little bonus at the end.

LEARN – I stated above that reading can be informational and inspirational. It can also be recreational. For me, I read to be informed and inspired, and the two need not be mutually exclusive.

LIVE – Being better informed allows me to know how to function better as a person (in a variety of roles), but also to know how my worldview impacts my living within the constructs of today’s society.

LOVE – Being inspired as I read, provides the courage I need to live according to my worldview, which includes loving others as I live.

LEAD – I have stated elsewhere that all Christians are leaders (I believe it was Oswald Sanders who wrote that) as we are to make disciples which requires leading. But apart from that idea, in a group, someone will lead. I do not have to be the leader, but I have to be ready to lead which requires knowing a few details like the who, the what, the when, the where, the why, and the how. Reading can prepare leaders to be ready to engage when the moment comes – or to make the moment when it is needed. Thus, leaders must be readers, and I have been called to lead.

CONCLUSION

Reading is critical to me. Again, that has not always been the case, but now it is a part of who I am. Of course, the book that should be on the top of my reading list is the Bible. However, many other good books exist and I want to share just a few here for anyone to consider for their reading list. If I could only take a handful of book with me if I moved, in addition to the Bible, these would be the books.

Books by Step:

  • Learn – Knowing God (JI Packer) – a theology book that is readable by anyone
  • Live – Good to Great in God’s Eyes (Chip Ingram) – personal discipleship
  • Live – Choose the Life (Bill Hull) – personal discipleship
  • Love – The Master Plan of Evangelism (Robert Coleman) – Jesus’ model for ministry
  • Love – Surprised by Hope (NT Wright) – living in light of the resurrection
  • Lead – Spiritual Leadership (Oswald Sanders) – Biblically-based leadership principles
  • Lead – Simple Church (Rainer and Geiger) – corporate discipleship
Honorable Mention:
What’s Best Next (Matthew Perman) – how to organize life for effectiveness


Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-419.html
4L – Matthew 28.19 – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/4l-discipleship-matthew-2819.html
4L – Spiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/01/using-4ls-part-1-spiral.html
4L – Vision – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-2-vision.html
4L – Mission – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-3-mission.html
4L – Strategy – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-4-strategy.html
4L – Steps – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-4ls-part-5-steps.html
4L – Learn – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-6-learn.html
4L – Live – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-7-live.html
4L – Love – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part8-love.html
4L – Lead – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part9-lead.html
4L – BackUptheSpiral – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/03/using-4ls-part-10-back-up-spiral.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-11-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-12-how-ls-help-me-learn.html
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) – http://fotonni.blogspot.com/2017/04/using-4ls-part-13-how-ls-help-me-learn.html