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About this series
Good to Great in God's Eyes
Ten Practices Great Christians have in Common
Are you tired of the status quo Christian life? Do you long for a spiritual breakthrough? Are you looking to go to the next level or get a fresh infusion of faith and spiritual passion? Great Christians live out their faith with purpose. In Mark 10:43, Jesus says, whoever wants to become great among you must - what? You'll explore the idea that there are certain practices available to every believer, at every maturity level, to move us from good to great, in God's Eyes. ACSI approvedMore from this series
We’ve got to understand Jesus’ fourfold process for empowering great people. Very, very clear.
The first thing He does is, He brings them in. The second thing He’s going to do is, after He brings them in, He’s going to build them up. And then, He’s going to train them, four; and then He’s going to send them out. I’m going to go through each one of those. But He starts out very, very clearly: He looks. He’s going to bring some people in. And then, He’s going to go through a phase where He builds them up. Then, He’s going to train them for doing something. And then, after He trains them – bang! – He sends them out, and they actually do it.
So, let’s talk about how you can do that. And by the way, this is how ordinary, regular – you don’t have to go to seminary. You don’t have to go to Bible school. You don’t have to be a genius. You don’t have to have a high IQ. Obviously, you don’t have to, because look at the guys He chose. You’ve got a couple executives, possibly, in the group, one religious revolutionary, mostly blue-collar guys. But what were they? They were faithful, weren’t they? They believed. They were available. And they were teachable. And He changed the world through them. So, let’s walk through. How do you do it? His fourfold process for empowering great people.
Number one, bring them in. Well, how do you bring them in? First, you model the message. Then, you invite them into the action, and you engage them in authentic relationships. And you say, “Well, where do you get that?”
Notice what it says in Mark 3:14. This is exactly how Jesus did it. “He appointed twelve – designating them apostles” – the word just means “a sent one,” or “a messenger” – “that they might be” – circle the phrase – with Him. “That they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” So, He gets messengers. His methodology is very simple: He just wants them around Him. And He has a mission: He does it purposefully, knowing He’s going to send them out.
A bricklayer did this for me. His name is Dave Marshall. And I say this just in awe – a high school education, self-taught – now, knows the bible better than I do. Was not cool. He wasn’t hip. He didn’t wear the neatest clothes. He wore these kind of moccasins, with white socks, back when white socks weren’t cool. He played the guitar pretty well, but he was not hip at all.
And I went to college, and I was a brand-new Christian of three months. And he asked if I wanted to learn how to study the Bible. And I thought, As a new Christian, I probably ought to. Although, when I looked at him, I thought, I don’t think I want to do it with you. Because you don’t understand – I’m Chip, and I’m really hip, and I’m really cool. And arrogant. But I was raised by good parents. And so, my better judgment said, You should respect people like this. And I said, “Yes, I would like to learn to study the Bible.”
So, every Tuesday, he would knock on my door, at seven o’clock, six-thirty, and he would open the Bible in the little cafeteria they have at the end of those halls. And then, he taught me how to memorize Scripture. And then, he would kind of take me some places.
Then, I found myself sitting around the table with his family. And he just brought me in.
The first phase, when you want to help people – it’s about exposure. Write that word in your notes. It’s about exposure. You bring them in through exposure. So often, we want to speed up the process, and we want to get them involved in activity, and “Here are five booklets you can read, and here are two books that I read. And by the way, I’m going to this conference; you need to go with me.” And people go, Whoa.
They just need to smell, and taste, and see the winsome life of Christ in you, first. Jesus appointed them that they would, do – what? They’d just be with Him. You eat with them. You talk with them. You play with them. You share with them. You just open your life, and then you invite them in, and you engage with them. And you let God at work in their heart.
The second thing is, after you bring them in, then you build them up. Notice what Jesus said, in Matthew 4:19: “Follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” So, the key to having impact with other people is not necessarily learning all these techniques. Jesus said, “I’ll tell you what: You just follow Me.” And as they followed Him, He built them up, so they became fishers of men. What did He do? He affirmed their strengths. He inspired their dreams. And there, in this phase, you confront their flaws.
I remember Dave affirming my strengths. I had no Bible training. I did not open a Bible until I was eighteen. But after a couple years, I think he saw, in Bible study, I had a little insight into the text. And pretty soon, he asked me to lead a Bible study.
And then, we dug out the basement of his house, because we went from about six kids to about two hundred and fifty in personal Bible study, on a secular campus. Jesus’ fourfold process begins, you bring them in. It’s about exposure. You build them up. Write the word nurture. It’s about nurture. Then, you need to train them for, and that’s about structure. You want to train them for the task. Notice Luke 6:40: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
You see, when you fully train them, whether you like it or not, it’s your kids or other people – they’re going to be a lot like you. And, so, in the structured time, you need to instruct their mind, their head. You need to develop their heart. And you need to equip their hands.
And this was the phase of my life where a guy named Howard Hendricks – and many of you may have heard of him – came into my life. And Howard Hendricks, in three or four years, in seminary, and then after that, I traveled with him, and then the next twenty-five years, by phone, and tape, and book. And he has been mentoring my head, and my heart, and my hands.
And he instructed. Every course Prof. Hendricks taught, I’ve taken. Almost anything he’s ever spoken on, I’ve listened to. God gave me a chemistry with this guy, and he has shaped how to think, biblically, about relationships, about money, about discipleship, about preaching, about life, about confrontation. He’s just been imprinted as a mentor. But it was in the training phase.
But he also went beyond that, to develop the heart. And I remember being in a hotel with Prof. He was teaching a big pastors’ conference. And I saved all my money up so I could travel with him. And I asked him questions on the plane, and – it was back in the days of overhead projectors. And he would be speaking, and I would be putting the little slides on in the back room. He’d have all the people, and I’d be walking behind him. And he was staying with his wife, and his wife had to go somewhere. So, I roomed with him for a couple nights.
And you know those times, like you do – I think everyone’s had this, whether it’s at camp, or with a guy you’re close to – girls do this even more – where you lay in bed and start talking, and the lights are out. And then, you realize it’s two-thirty in the morning. I had one of those times with Prof. I shared stuff with Prof. I’d never shared with anyone. I shared some struggles with Prof. I’d never shared with anyone.
And Prof. said, “You know what?” One, he helped me know I’m normal. And, number two, he gave me some wise council. And number three, then, he pointed me in some directions. Why? Because he was safe. But he understood he was training, he was investing in me. He trained my head. He developed my heart.
And finally, you have to equip people’s hands – there are certain skills. You begin to say, they need to learn how to study the Bible. They need to learn to manage their finances wisely. They need to learn to articulate their faith. There are certain skills, in the Christian life, that you need to train people if they’re going to go on. And Prof. did that for me.
And then, a fellow named Bill Lawrence – I’ll never forget. I was in a deal called “LEAD”: “Leadership Evaluation and Development.” And they had these modules. And they looked at your preaching, and they looked at your family, and they looked at your ministry, and they interviewed all these people. So, you sit with your wife, and he’d watch two videos of my preaching. This was like in 1988, ’89.
And he starts it off – now, I knew him, so he cared about me. So, there was some relationship. And he turned to me, and then he turned to Teresa. He goes, “Chip, I just can’t figure out what the real issue is here.” And I’m thinking, Oh, what? “I can’t figure out whether you’re just plain lazy, or you don’t believe in preaching.” And I’m thinking, My wife’s in the room here. Real men don’t do this to real men. Bill, give me a break!
And I’m growing this little church, and I have a discipleship mindset, and I studied the text. And once I studied the text – and obviously, I can get up in front of people, and kind of go with it. I wasn’t doing that last fifteen, writing out the transitions, illustrations. Real life change happened in small groups. So, I’m running all these small groups. Spending as minimal time as I can in preaching, working seventy or eighty hours, and he calls me lazy. And I’m hot.
He says, “Laziness isn’t being inactive. Laziness is not doing the right thing at the right time to fulfill the right assignment.” He said, “You’re lazy.” He said, “You’ve got gifts, man.”
And he said, “I’ll tell you this is that God is not going to ask you – here’s the thing. Your problem is, you’ve got enough gift – all those people in that little town, they think you’re pretty good, don’t they?” I said, “Yeah.” “And you think you’re pretty good, too?” “Well, yeah, pretty good.”
He said, “Well, I’ve got news for you: You’re not near as good as you think.” And he said, “The difference between your preaching is the difference between a flashlight and a laser beam. And a flashlight spreads light, and everybody gets a little touch, and it doesn’t do a whole lot. And a laser beam can cut through a door.” And he said, “It’s about focus.
And the last fifteen percent of a good message is hard work, and you’re not doing it. And God has given you a significant gift, and you’re going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, Chip, and you’d better figure that out, and you’d better give yourself to preaching.” And he opened the Bible and read, “‘God has chosen to change the world through the foolishness of preaching.’ And He’s given you gift.” And I thought, Ooh boy. And then, my wife piped up, in love, and goes, “Well, I don’t know if he’s lazy or not, because he does work a lot, but he doesn’t believe in preaching.”
And I’ll never forget, because I went, from that point, and I blocked off the first two hours of every day, and all of Wednesday, to noon, and did nothing but, after I spent time with God, but work on messages. And I began to work on the last fifteen percent, of what changes a message from a shotgun to a Teflon bullet. Why? How many people love you enough to climb in the car of your life, and look you eye to eye, and tackle something that everyone really kind of sees, but no one has the love or the guts to tell you?
And my question would be, if you want to be a good Christian, don’t have those conversations, and don’t receive them.
If you want to be a great Christian that leaves a legacy – now, do I think less of Bill Lawrence? Are you kidding? I just got a video from him and watched it, and thought, That guy, changed my life.
That’s what, you want to be that guy, you want to be that gal, twenty years from now – if the Lord doesn’t come back – and they’ll say, “You know what? It was at this restaurant, or in this room, or at this time, and you were the bearer of truth and love, at a level that changed my life.”
Jesus said, if you want to leave a legacy, you bring them in – exposure. You build them up – nurture. And then, you train them for, with structure. And then, finally, you send them out. What’d He say? What’d He do? “Therefore,” He says to His disciples, “go into all the world.” Right? And do what? “Make disciples.” It’s the only verb. “Make disciples.” The word disciple is “a follower.” How? “Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And do what? “Teach them all the things that I have taught you.” Teach them what? To hear? “Teach them to obey.” And then, what’s Jesus’ promise? “I’ll keep on mentoring you. I won’t be here physically – ‘And lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.’” And so, He sends them out.
And when you send them out, you have to clarify the mission: “This is what I want you to do.” You confirm their calling: “I’m for you. This is what you can do. This is where you’re gifted.” You help people understand how God made them. Because when people move out, they’re going to get a lot of opposition.
And then, finally, you continue to mentor them. You just continue along the way, where it’s their ministry. And what you want, you want them to grow. You want them. And I’m glad – I don’t understand it. And I appreciate I have a set of gifts. You have a set of gifts. I have a personal conviction that there are no superstars in the Kingdom of God, that we’re a body that is interdependent. Some are more visible. And they get some hassles that most people don’t know. And some are less visible. But it is in honoring and walking with God, and us working together, that makes the difference. But everyone has an opportunity to leave a legacy.
And I praise God for some messages going out on the radio, or going out on a DVD. But in my heart of hearts, when I look back on my life and say, Where’s the joy? It’s encouraging. But it’s like flashlight stuff. It’s great. I’m glad it’s a little help to someone here and there. My joy is my three boys, and my daughter, and how they walk with God. You know what? That’s the legacy.
My joy is the five guys that we developed as the teaching team in California. And four of the five guys are now senior pastors.
And they are growing churches. I just visited and got to preach at one. And I came to it and there were about four hundred when he got there, and there are about sixteen hundred to two thousand. And the worship service and the quality – literally, no false humility here: I walked into that area, and I watched what Steve was doing.
And then, I got to visit Fred, another senior pastor, another guy, and I just thought, Man, they are doing this better than I can do it. These guys are amazing pastors. If I lived in San Jose, I’d go to his church. And I wouldn’t preach. It’s awesome! And I think, For eighteen years, I got to be a part of being a little bit of a Paul. And he was a Timothy.
And guess what he’s doing? Every Monday morning, he has key men of the church, eight or ten of them, every year, and he takes them through a full year. And he says, “Of all the things I’ve done, Chip, I’ve got to tell you, the real difference in this church isn’t the preaching, the music, the this or that.” He said, “I think I’ve got about eighty guys, now, that I’ve taken through that systematic time.” And you know what he’s doing? Amazing. He’s bringing them in, and he builds them up. Then, he trains them for. And then, he sends them out. And they’re leading and running the ministries.
Let me close with Prof. Hendricks. And he gives us three reasons why most people do not leave a legacy. Why do so few Christians leave a legacy? I just want you to look at the potentiality of what’ll keep you from doing and being what you want to do, and I want to do.
Number one: Lack of discipline. This quote, “We cannot impart what we do not possess.” And when you look at 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 17, what’s Paul say? “Imitate me.” You’re going to get exactly who you are. It’s like with your kids. I tell parents, “You know what? You need to be what you want them to become.” And that’s challenging.
To sit and – mentally, I sit on my couch and say to my kids, or people that I’m trying to help spiritually, “Drive your car how you see me drive my car. Spend your money how you see me spend my money. Spend time with God the way you see me spend time with God. Love your wife the way I love my wife.” And when you start saying that you go, Oh, boy. Do you really want them to do that?
And if not, then change. Discipline yourself to godliness. Be the man, be the woman, you want them to become. What’s it require? Probably turning off the TV, getting up a half hour earlier, deciding, This really matters. It’s amazing how disciplined people can be in our world when the issue is money. This is leaving a legacy.
The second thing Prof. teaches us is lack of vision. “Our failure to see beyond our own lifespan is a real hindrance.” I love that. Prof. – I made a list of – this is probably half – here are the guys Prof. mentored: Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Joe Stowell, Tony Evans, Dennis Rainey, Andy Stanley, Michael Easley, Bruce Wilkinson, John Trent. And those are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. Every one of us go back to, “It was Prof.” Prof’s not on the radio. Prof. hadn’t written a bunch of books. Prof. just developed and created all the guys in the radio, writing all the books, blessing. But we all go back to who? Why? He understood. He saw beyond his own lifespan. His legacy is mammoth.
And the last, is because the last reason is focus, lack of focus. As Prof. would often say, “A life of impact is about this one thing I do, not these twenty things I dabble at.” And of course, in Philippians 3, we get Paul saying, “This one thing I do: pressing ahead, reaching forward.” And I would just say to you: discipline, vision, focus. To do what? Very simply, you want to bring them in, you want to build them up, you want to train them for, and then, you want to send them out. And you do that by modeling it – right? Discipline. By vision – seeing what really matters – and then, by focus. You can impact and touch a lot of people. You can only train a few. Start with those under your roof. Then, find faithful, available, teachable people. Because good Christians live the life; great Christians leave a legacy. I don’t know about you. I want to leave a legacy.