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.


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 –
4L – Matthew 28.19 –
4L – Spiral –
4L – Vision –
4L – Mission –
4L – Strategy –
4L – Steps –
4L – Learn –
4L – Live –
4L – Love –
4L – Lead –
4L – BackUptheSpiral –
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Love) –
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Exercise) –
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Action) –
4L – HelpMeLEARN (Read) –

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