Thursday, February 16, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 4 – The Strategy

Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing about the 4L Discipleship Model and how it has helped me to clarify (strengthen) my vision and mission statements. This week, I “drop down” a little closer to the actual 4Ls and discuss my strategy.

While the vision and mission are critical to remember our long-term goals and objectives, it is the strategy that is a part of the day to day to move us closer to reaching those goals. That is, the strategy provides the focus to keep us moving. It is still not the ground level however. In various types of organizations, the ground level ideas are the policies and procedures that lead to the execution of a strategy. For me, the ground level is represented by the 4Ls, which I will again discuss at a practical level (for me) next week. But first, my strategy, which is represented by the acrostic LEARN.

Why LEARN? Well, education is important to me. It has not always been, but once I began my master’s degree, the idea of education became more important. Having since completed a masters (Christian Ed) and a doctorate (Educational Ministry) with education being the emphasis, it is safe to say that education is, indeed, important to me. Furthermore, once learning became the key (rather than a focus on grades) during the early stages of completing my master’s, my overall attitude towards life-long learning shifted greatly. Thus, the acrostic LEARN fits well. So, what do the letters represent?

  • Love – God and others, beginning with my family. (Mark 12.29-31)
  • Exercise – discipline in my life spiritually, physically (diet/exercise), and financially. (1 Timothy 4.7-8)
  • Action – is the evidence of faith. (James 1.22)
  • Read – God’s Word and quality resources for continued spiritual growth. (Proverbs 1.5-6)
  • Nurture – others around me to find God’s purpose for their lives. (Ephesians 4.12-13)

Of course, at times I succeed and fail at each of these. However, these ideas fit who I am currently as well as providing a strategy for me to fulfill my mission and achieve my vision over time. Specifically, the greatest commandment is to love. I must start there, allowing God’s love to fill me that I might learn to love more fully. As I exercise discipline in my life, I will be better able to respond when, where, and how God asks me to. My actions should supplement my teachings and allow others to follow me as I am following Christ (1 Corinthians 11.1). Reading is the source of (usually) well-constructed thought. People may espouse many things off the cuff (such as traditional or social media), a good book can provide clear insight into any number of categories. Finally, as every person who follows Christ is called to make Christians, my nurturing of others (not just in caring for them, but in equipping and challenging them) will help others to realize all that God has for them.

Again, I admit I fail at each of these areas often. But what makes this strategy so effective for me, is not the acrostic itself, but the idea of learning. As I learn, I will better exercise. As I read, I will learn, which will allow me to better nurture. Truly, this strategy has a synergistic effect – each letter contributing to the eventual success of the others as well. So as I truly LEARN, I should do so with incremental advantages over time – each letter becoming stronger individually and the collective process being strengthened as well.

With the strategy ready, it is time to put our feet on the ground and see how the 4L Discipleship Model fits in the scope of the strategy. That will be the post for next week. In the meantime, now that you see how these pieces begin to fit together, I encourage you to consider a vision, mission, and strategy which can guide you to become all that you are intended to be.

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