I have a good friend, we lived in Santa Cruz for many years. And it’s right on, you know that song? [Sings] “Down by the boardwalk,” come on with me, “down by the sea.”
Anyway, the boardwalk, I’m having a lot of fun this morning. That song comes from there. There is this huge boardwalk. And then the big roller coaster and all this. Well, I have a friend who, his family owns all the concessions. So they’ve got a zillion jobs.
And every summer, Campus Crusade would come to do ministry. Like, a hundred and fifty students from all over America. And what he learned is, and what a testimony to Campus Crusade, these young college students were very committed Christians. Their work ethic and commitment was of such, every summer, after about three summers, he said, “Send all of them to my place. Okay, what do you like to do? Good.” And he would hire them all, all summer.
And he said, “Our profits went up, the attitudes went up, they did ministry while we were there.” He said, “It was the greatest win-win in the world.” Why? Because they understood they were called by God to be there.
“Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as unto the Lord.” A little application here and I want to ask you, it says, “I” and then in my notes I have, “Your name.” So, do not write, “I, Chip Ingram, commit to discover God’s calling for my life, so I can impact my world and beyond.” That will not work for your notes.
You would probably go with your name. Right? You tracking with me? Because if this isn’t happening, again, if it’s not happening in you, you won’t pass it on. You can take these notes and these concepts and you can get in a Bible study or you can go out for a Coke or a coffee with a son or a disciple, grandchild, and tell them this. And if it’s not in you, you won’t pass it on.
And I don’t care. You know what? Your work never ends. Don’t say, “Well, I’m retired.” Well, okay. From some vocation for a season, but if you’re breathing, you’re working! You’re doing things that are making, creating, modifying, developing, bringing beauty to life. And so you do that unto the Lord.
Now, let me give you four specific ways that are real practical and general, to develop this in those that you love, to pass it on. And then what I want to do is I want to take this very specifically in the second half of our time, about, how do you help those you love discover God’s calling for their lives?
But before we do, let me give you four quick things that, especially for those of you that might have kids that are still at home, or you’re in those earlier years.
Number one, give them a lot of jobs growing up. We have too many parents working too hard, too long, that are very tired, with children in front of television sets and video games going, “Mom, when is supper ready?”
Your kids need to learn to cook and help out at eleven and twelve, everyone needs to be able to make their own bed by age five or six. Everyone needs to be able to handle and do their own laundry by the early-teen or pre-teen years. Oh, well, that’s my job. Look, your job is to impart and impact and develop your child to be responsible and learn to do work with a good [attitude]…
And the only way you do that is you’ve got to give them jobs. And guess what? It’s a fallen world and they have flesh. They don’t like to do it. Right? They don’t want to feed the dog, they don’t want to take out the garbage, they don’t want to clean up the room.
You start from young, you give them jobs. And, by the way, it takes more time and it is a hassle. That’s why you’re the mature one and they are the non-mature one. Of course it’s easier to tuck them in bed and clean up the whole thing yourself. You want them to learn to work at an early age.
Second, feed them responsibility, responsibility, responsibility. Maturity has very little to do with age, and everything to do with responsibility. I can show you thirty-five year old guys, living in the back bedroom, paying thirty-three dollars a month rent, asking Mommy what’s for supper.
And I can show you seventeen, eighteen year olds or a couple of guys at twenty-three, twenty-four that were at Stanford and said, “You want to try starting this little company?” “I don’t know, do you think this Google thing will work?” “I don’t know.” So they are twenty-nine and billionaires.
Maturity is not about how old you are. Maturity is the ability to handle more and more responsibility. And so you give your kids or your disciples, that’s why even when you do small groups and when you do Bible studies, don’t fix everything. Don’t take care of everything.
Ask people to bring stuff, ask people to start leading, ask people to share something. All the time, feed those people you love the most responsibility, responsibility, responsibility. By the way, they won’t do it as well as you. So OCD, perfectionistic, fellow saints in the kingdom, lighten up! Be able to live with some messes because, could I go back to, like, how did you learn to do stuff?
That bricklayer, you know the greatest gift he gave to me? I came to Christ and then I went mostly to school to play basketball and baseball, but I did get an education.
And I think God put me with that bricklayer and we saw this ministry grow. And then I graduated from school, and before I could find a coaching job, I worked with him. And then I was there, like, three months. We are going to launch this new ministry.
And as he started with some couples, he went a year earlier than me. And I’ll never forget the day I came up to his house, because we would have a little Bible study Saturday morning. And he goes, “Chip, you know something? I’m getting too old for this student stuff. And I’m going to just focus on couples. The whole campus ministry.” I mean, we had, like, five people. “The whole campus ministry is yours.”
I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “It’s yours.” I go, “Well, what does that mean?” “It’s yours. Lead it, direct it, come up with a strategy, make it happen.” I said, “Dave, I moved here to learn all this stuff. I had a good teaching job and I came to learn from you and do all this stuff. And I’m living in this tiny, little apartment that’s a box, and the campus is up there, and we do it in your living room. What do you mean?” He said, “Look, just lead it!”
And I said, “Well, I don’t know enough.” He goes, “Well, there is my file cabinet. Everything I’ve learned, all the messages I’ve learned from other people, they are topical. You can just open them up and get whatever you need.”
And I remember, because his house was up on this hill and mine was down at the bottom. And I remember trudging down. I said, Man, I can’t believe this guy. I can’t believe that, I can’t believe that, I can’t believe that. Man, I mean, are you kidding me? He just dumped this whole thing on me.
And by the time I got to the door, it was like, Alright. Hey, I’m going to lead it, I’m going to do it my way, then. And I was listening to some tapes. Actually, it was interesting, I met someone here, by a guy named Jim Peterson, who is doing evangelistic Bible studies in Brazil. And I thought, That’s how I’m going to do it.
So I started these gospel of John Bible studies in dorm rooms and guys are smoking dope and there are all these pictures on the wall and it’s crazy and I’m getting in the Bible and all of a sudden they start coming to Christ.
And here’s what he understood. He could have me help him for yet another season and I would be a little helper. Or he could dump the truck of responsibility on me and I would have to figure it out. You know how I learned how to lead? Leading. And you know how you learn how to lead when you don’t know how to lead? It’s called “overwhelmist.”
And then, guess what? I prayed a lot because I didn’t know what I was doing. Now, I’m sure he was watching and he was not going to let me go over a cliff. But he let me get right to the edge. That’s what you want to do. Feed them responsibility. Give them jobs, feed them responsibility.
Number three, require, I almost said demand because I really mean demand, demand excellence and develop a work ethic. We have just got into this, our little kids’ psyche, we don’t want them to feel bad. My kids will tell you, and maybe I was a little over the top.
I had one son that had a struggle in school. And he had the gift of sloppiness. And so he would do his homework and he would, I couldn’t even read it. And it was half-baked.
And so every night for almost two years, every night, not exaggerating, so maybe I missed a night. Not many. And I would look at it and I said, “Well, Eric, I can’t read this.” He said, “Well, Dad, it’s the best I can do.” I said, “Well, the best you can do, I guess, is not quite good enough, because that’s…” and then I would give him the little dad sermon and, “I really love you son. Now do it again.” [Unintelligible crying] “That’s as good as I can write, I’m not a very good writer.”
“Hey, Eric, I’ve got bad news. You can cry as long as you want but when you start writing it again, it’ll get quicker, okay? So I’ll be out here. When you get done, bring it out to me.”
“And that’s how you learn to clean out the garage, that’s not bad, now try it again. The reason the vacuum cleaner, you pick up the rug and you actually vacuum under the rug, okay?”
Now, I’m not talking about being perfectionistic, over the top, whacko. Although, my kids, at times, would say I had small moments of that. It was, If they don’t learn to work well and work with excellence and work to an audience of One, where do you think they are going to pick that up?
One of the greatest gifts I think I saw my wife and I give our children is they know how to think and they know how to work. And they have all been very successful in jobs because, right now, how many of you are either a business owner, supervisor, employer, or a manager in any way? What is your number one problem? You can’t find people who can work, right? You can’t find people that can come on time, do what they are told, fulfill a job, and do it well.
You give that to those you love, and they will be successful in whatever they do. And so you have to demand that. By the way, the reason, for those of you that still have some small kids, or, by the way, it gets harder when they are older, “Well, I’m eighteen years old. I can do anything I want.” “That’s right. You can also pay your own rent, you can buy your own food.”
Give them responsibility! Your goal is not to make them dependent and like you and have warm, fuzzy feelings all the time. You want to launch them. They are an arrow of God out of your quiver and you want to launch them into the world with a trajectory of impact. So they need to understand, “I’m called to do this. God made me to do this. I do it for an audience of One. You know what? I can lay brick or be a nuclear physicist and you know what? They are equal in God’s eyes. I just need to figure out what that is.”
And the final thing I would say is, teach them, and I alluded to this, to work for an audience of One. And when they are young, like I told them, I said, “I understand no one can see behind here that’s really dirty and all the cobwebs and the spiders that are coming out of the corner and stuff, that is upsetting your mother. But the reason you clean here is because we are not doing this for me or for your mom. You do your best because this is your, work is an offering to God.” Do you see it?
This was really one of the core reformation principles. The priesthood of the believer was one. This other was, Living life before the face of God. All that we do, all that we are, as an offering.
And so those are four little things. Jobs, responsibility, excellence, audience of One. Now, let’s get real practical. Help them discover God’s calling for their lives and to do this, you need to ask the following questions. And, by the way, this isn’t original, this: What is your SHAPE?
Actually, there was a pastor from Saddleback who wrote a book that has this word, “SHAPE.” But it was such a good acronym, I stole it. And so I don’t want any credit for it. But I think all truth is God’s truth. If you give credit, if people have done better stuff than you, you just grab it and modify it, give credit, and use it.
So this acronym of a SHAPE, I think, is very, very helpful. And here is your role with your disciples, with the people that you love, with your kids, with your grandkids, with the people in your Bible study: You want to be a student of them. See, your role, you’ve got three hundred and sixty-five days to live, if you’re going to die three hundred and sixty-five days from now, and at the end of that three hundred and sixty-five days, let’s say they live another twenty or thirty years.
Let’s just round it, seventy percent of their waking hours, they are going to work. How valuable would it be if you could help them discover what they were made by God to do? And spend seventy percent of their waking hours doing what God made them to do with joy and fruit and impact.
And they woke up and said, Thank God it’s Monday! Can you imagine the gift that would be? Not only to them, but to the kingdom.
And my suggestion is you’ll have to become a student. Your role changes. We have unconsciously bought, How do I help the people I love be successful? And how do I help them be happy? That takes you down, probably, very negative paths.
What I can tell you is, if you help them discover who God made them to be, and fulfill their calling, this side thing will happen. They will probably be pretty successful and they will probably be very happy. But that’s a side benefit, that’s not the goal.
So what is your SHAPE? So, number one, ask them, what are their spiritual gifts? Help them discover their spiritual gifts. You have the core passages in the New Testament: Romans 12, I Corinthians 12 and 14, Ephesians 4. I went over those quickly.
But there are lots of excellent resources to help people discover their spiritual gifts. Because of what I was doing in my five years of Walk Thru the Bible, I was going all around the world with about fifty different denominations. We needed to create something that helped people do that only from Scripture. No tests. Because there couldn’t be any outside type stuff.
So we put together a thing called, Your Divine Design, and it’s an audio series and a DVD series that walks people through a process of discovering their primary spiritual gift. What did God make them [to do]? What is their passion, spiritually? What did He create them to do, in terms of spiritual gifts?
My son, Ryan, I’ll give a number of real practical illustrations, was not a student. He would have six weeks where he would get As and Bs and he was a smart kid, but very lazy. And he doesn’t mind me saying this, because it’s very true.
And so from sixth grade to twelfth grade, he didn’t put two six weeks together, ever. And his joke is, “I was grounded, I think, from seventh grade on.” It’s not really true but he made me nuts! He just wouldn’t do his work.
So I started, I said, Okay, I’m responsible for his education. “Here’s a book by C.S. Lewis. I want you to write me a book report.” And he did. And then, “Here’s, Major Bible Themes, by Chafer and Walvoord.” And it’s like this. And this is during the summer. “You’re not going to work at school? That’s okay. I’m going to be responsible. You’re going to learn to read, write, and think.”
And so you read a chapter and there are twenty questions at the end. You have to go into the Bible and answer all of them. Well, he did.
Here’s what I learned about my son. He led four of the six volleyball players in high school to Christ, he had a Bible study in our home, when he was supposed to be studying, he went and learned how to play the guitar very well. And when he got bored playing the guitar, he went out and played the drums. He loved God, he had a passion for God’s Word, and he hated school.
Now, part of the discipline was, I just was on him, on him, on him, on him, on him. And then when he got done with school, he said, “Well, I think I’d like to go to college.” I said, “Well, I have a stewardship issue, here. Because I don’t have a lot of money and so we are going to have to both pay as much as we can. But you need to work for a year and save eight to ten thousand dollars, because you’ve never put two six weeks together. Why should I put ten thousand of God’s money down and you go off to college and blow ten thousand dollars? So you need to work for a year and then you pay for your first year and if you’re consistent and do it well, then by then, I think I’ll be able to handle the next three years. I’ll pay at least your tuition and you can work.”
And he looked at me like, “Dad?” I said, “Yes, son?” Now, do you understand? Now, some of you are looking at me like, You must be the harshest, meanest, baddest father I have ever heard. Now, think about this. Again, am I not being consistent? It’s not my money, it’s God’s money.
He has blown the last [few years], why would his behavior change because he goes off to college and has more freedom and can do more? Well, I will tell you what, he did a couple jobs that he thought, I don’t think I want to do this the rest of my life. He saved about seven or eight thousand dollars. I charged him rent in his bedroom from day one.
The goal is to, what? Help them to become responsible. Now, we had fun, we played hoop, I loved him, we had a great relationship. But what I saw was his motivation and spiritual gifts were in this area of teaching and discipling. And I praise God for Joe Stowell who is the president of Moody Bible. He and I were on the phone and I described my son. He said, “I knew a guy just like him once.” He said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll let him in Moody Bible. I would rather have a guy who is not as studious, who loves God, and has a proven track record.”
And I said, “Well, who is this person you know that was like this?” He said, “It was me.” He said, “I hated high school.” He said, “I never started studying until I started Greek and the Bible and all the rest.” I said, “Joe, you’ve got a doctorate.” He goes, “Man, Chip, it’s not about brains. It’s about calling and motivation.”
Well, my son ended up at Moody. He graduated from Moody, he CLEPed out of courses, he got through, he loved Greek, he’s a pastor, and he is in a ministry that God is blessing.
But part of it was, What is his spiritual gift? That is going to be a big part of what God…
When you come to Christ, God is going to give a primary, I believe, motivation and a ministry cluster for you to fulfill. In other words, if this is your good work you are to walk in, doesn’t it make sense He is going to put something in you, a power, supernaturally, for you to do it?
The second is, What is their heart? Where is their passion? Ask them, “What is your desire? What do you dream about? What would you love to see happen?” That question, “If you couldn’t fail, what would you like to do?” I mistakenly asked one of my sons that once, and he says, “I want to be a musician.” And I thought, Oh my gosh. “Tell me you’re joking, son.” “No, Dad, I think God has put this music in my heart,” and I’m thinking, There’s a zillion musicians, bands everywhere. You have to get a real job. There’s no security in this. I’m preaching on the weekends this, but now this is my kid who is not going to get a real job, right?
And so he goes to a little community college, “Dad, I’m bored with this. I want to go full-time in music.” And I’m going…
And so, I can still tell you where I was. I was here in the kitchen, the table is here, Jason was right there. And I’m giving him the logical, parental, “Well, after you get done with school and you need to have enough security,” and I’m giving him all this, basically, “Money! You have to take care of yourself over here,” and the fear of a dad thinking, You’ll never be happy because you’re going to end up a has-been, a little musician that has traveled around and wasted your early years.
So I am, in my flesh, I’m worried about his happiness and money. And so he is in the kitchen and I am giving him the opposite of what I am preaching, which is not good as a pastor or a father.
And he looked at me and goes, “Hey, Dad, who is that guy who said, ‘Dream great dreams and follow the passions of your heart; think outside the box and make a difference for Jesus?’”
I said, “Give me a minute. Let me see if I can remember who that guy was.” And we had this exchange and I had to say, “Son, I’m sorry, I give, you’re right. Give me a day to process it and then just tell me how can I help you.” And it’s a long story and he is writing music and doing what God made him to do.
Anybody here in this room have that struggle with those you really care about? Sort of the practical versus what God might really want them to do?
A is for “Aptitude.” What are you good at? The fourth is personality. You need to look at how your kids are wired. And whether that is the aptitude, whether it’s the Strengths Finder test that you can get at any bookstore and go online in thirty minutes and see what people’s strengths are.
Or the personality test. There are lots of them. The MMPI or the easiest one is that DISC test. You know? High “D;” “I.” My point is, it doesn’t take long to give someone that you are discipling or one of your kids or a grandkid a little test and begin to talk about, “You are high dominant and a high ‘I.’ You’re a leader. Or, you like details.” “But, Dad, I want to be a ballerina.” “Well, I know, but…” Sort of in a nice way, “You’re awkward, honey. And you fall down a lot. And we will get you one of those tutus for Halloween and you can run around the neighborhood, you’re only seven.”
My point is, you want to direct them toward what they’re good at. That’s how God made them.
And then here you want to encourage them to get honest, wise counsel about who they are and where they fit and how to move, because you may have an influence on them, especially if they are children or grandchildren. But you want them to get wise counsel from people you really trust and they trust to get some outside, objective view of, Where are they at? Where are they coming from? What are they good at? How do they come off?
You want to just create these mirrors of objectivity to help this person understand, What has God made you to do? What is your “Ephesians 2:10,” good work to walk in? What are you called to do? When you do it, you come alive and God blesses it and you are fulfilled?
By the way, when you are doing what God made you to do and when the people that you are helping are doing what God made them to do, they often miss it, because it doesn’t seem like work.
Do you understand? We all have glasses. If you had glasses and there was a blue tint so that everything you saw was blue, you would think everyone sees blue. I meet people who see a situation and organizing it, “Well that can’t be God’s call. I mean, it’s so easy to organize stuff. All you do is this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this goes over here, this goes over here. It only took me five minutes.” And I’m thinking, How did you do that?
Or I watched my son at nine years old read the Bible and ask questions about it and teach his friends at nine. I’m thinking, He thinks everyone does that. Or I have seen people who look at something technical and they click, click, click, click, click, “Click here, this is over here, well, this thing here. These are cookies over here.” I don’t even know what cookies are. [Unintelligible computer noises]
You could give me that computer until Jesus comes. “Send.” You know? So what you have to help people with, is that when it seems like it’s not work, because it comes so easy, you have to develop the gift and you have to cultivate it. But often, that is their sweet spot. That’s what they are great at.
I remember when I first started teaching, I thought, Well, no one can do this for a living! You get to study, you get up in front of people, then you get to apply it? You get to see what happens? Is this for real? Like, this is a real job?
Now, I spent hours and hours and hours intensely working. But I would say about ninety-five percent of it, I think, Are you kidding me? Someone actually gets to do this? Because when I open the text and when I study, it breaks apart for me. I sense what God wants to say. This is what you need to do.
It’s hard in terms of intense and time and energy, but it’s not hard as in, Oh, brother, I’ve got one more sermon to write. Or, Oh, boy, I’ve got together in a group and we’ve got to dream what we are going to do with this church and we have all these problems and, boy, what a bummer. I love it! I just love it. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas. I have to hold myself down. You know? Like, Quit trying to do too much.
Encourage them – after the honest, wise feedback – help them be willing to move out of their comfort zone to fulfill their divine purpose. You need to understand that the people that you love the most, the people that you want to help, the most common command in all of Scripture is a very short sentence: “Do not be afraid.” That’s the most repeated command in all of the Bible.
“Joshua, don’t be afraid.” “Moses, don’t be afraid.” “Disciples, don’t be afraid.” Why? As one ancient Greek philosopher said, “Safety is the greatest hindrance to all human endeavor.” All of us tend to want to be safe and secure. I had to literally say to one of my sons, “Son, you’re in this community college and you can’t go back there next year. We will look at different schools, but you have this dream.”
But he just didn’t want to get away from home. This is the same son I put roller skates on him, and I said, “You can’t come back inside until noon.” “I don’t want to learn! It’s hard!” “I know it’s hard,” and I pushed him and did all this stuff.
When he got his first bike, it was like, “I don’t want to learn to ride!” We could never get him out of his comfort zone. Last year, he started his own business. But, man, every step of the way has been pushing him where he didn’t think he could go. Lovingly, gently, but you have to help people understand.
A lot of people, that’s why you’re where you’re at. It’s called “coaching.” Most of us can never fulfill what God made us to fulfill unless there is someone who does two things. There is an arm around us that says, “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,” and there is a foot that, “I love you so much that I am not going to let you stay in this little spiritual, emotional, geographical cul-de-sac of safety. Okay?”
And so the life message is: You were created to work. Would that change you? I was made for this. The lie is that you are what you do. You have been fed it. You are a housewife. You are a doctor. You are a scientist. You are a builder. You are a bricklayer. You are a plumber. That is a lie from the pit of hell.
The truth is, do what you are. You are not what you do. Do what you are. You are created in the image of God with a spiritual gift, with a personality, with a passion, with aptitude, with skills, with experience to do this designed, Ephesians 2:10 good work. Discover it. And then help others discover theirs.
And when you do, work becomes a gift from God, instead of drudgery to get out of, so you can go play on the weekends.