Thursday, February 2, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 2 – The Vision

In last week’s post, I shared the idea of how a spiral effect could be used to formulate a plan to use the 4L Model of Discipleship. The ultimate goal is to understand our individual purpose within the context of others. In other words, how does what I do fit God’s purpose for my life – not only for myself, but as I live around, and serve, others. (Christianity is never meant to be lived in isolation.)

But the 4L Model, as I have developed it, is not the goal for us. Rather, it is a way to lead us towards the goal. This must be true because discipleship should not be the goal for us – becoming like Jesus should be, and discipleship is the approach to do that. Given that understanding, the 4L Model should help us reach our goal, while the goal should drive how we adapt the model for our purposes. Again, that is the very essence of the spiral effect.

So, this week, I want to begin with a look down on the 4L Model from 20,000 feet. To do that, I am going to start with the idea of vision and how the vision I have for my life is shaped by, and shapes the way I use the 4L Model.

First, I need to define my understanding of vision. For me, vision is a goal I have for my life that is something I see in the distance. It is something I desire to be true of myself, but is something I will never perfectly attain. What I see before me should affect what I do, where I go, how I live, etc. In other words, my vision should affect my mission (I separate Vision and Mission), it should impact how I work to fulfill my vision (Strategy) which should direct the individual steps (the 4L Model) of my strategy. So, again, the vision ultimately impacts how the 4L Model is used by me, and the 4L Model determines how successful I am in achieving my vision.

My personal vision is this: To become the man God wants me to be.

My vision statement is based upon Ephesians 5.1 which says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (I recommend all Christians choose a verse for their vision to serve as a reminder that it is not about us and our goal, but about God and His purpose for each of us – individually and collectively.) As a follower of Christ, I am a child of God. While our earthly fathers are imperfect and, for many people, are a source of frustration and consternation, God is the perfect Father – even when we cannot understand what is happening in our lives. If I am to follow Jesus, and Jesus and the Father are one (John 10.30), then I should seek to imitate God, just as small children often imitate the actions of their parents. (All Christians should do this whether or not this verse speaks of their ultimate goal).

My vision statement begins with “to become.” This is important because I am not yet that person. Nor will I be in this life. For some people setting a goal that is unattainable is problematic and I understand that. For me, in this instance, it is a reminder that no matter how much my pride might want to convince me that I have achieved something, I am nowhere near where God would have me be. Thus, I need to continue “to become” for the rest of this life. Only in eternity will I truly be all that God has for me to be, but in the meantime, I must partner with the Holy Spirit to do my part in growing into the person He has called me to be.

And that leads to the 4L’s. For the moment, I am stepping through my mission (next week) and my strategy (two weeks), and leaving out details of the steps (the 4Ls in three weeks), but let me briefly provide a small statement about the 4Ls as they relate from this level, looking down 20,000 feet. If I am to become the man God wants me to be, then I must do what He has revealed in His Word. To do so, I must LEARN what He has said. I must LIVE according to what He has said. I must LOVE (God and others) because He taught us that is the greatest of commands. And I must LEAD others to do the same because that is what the Great Commission is all about – making disciples (Lead) by teaching others (Learn) to observe (Live) all that I have commanded (including the Great and the New Commandments (Love, Mark 12.30-31, John 13.34-35).

As I take each of these steps – often two steps forward and 1 1/2 steps back, I am making slight progress towards becoming more like God – imitating Him. The progress may be slow, but it can be steady. Over time, as I am more and more successful (I pray), then I will truly see that I am closer to becoming the man He desires me to be which means I am closer to fulfilling the vision He has given me for my life. And the 4L’s – Learn, Live, Love, and Lead have served their role in guiding me along my journey.

Next week, I will “drop down” to about 15,000 feet and show how my mission is impacted by my vision and how the 4L’s help me to fulfill my mission.

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