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