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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
Let’s walk through. How do you do it? His four fold 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. 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 12, 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. I saw this just in awe, with only a high school education, self taught, now knows the bible better than I do. He was not cool. I mean, he wasn’t hip. He didn’t wear the neatest clothes. He wore these kind of moccasins with white sock, 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. You know? And I was arrogant.
But, you know, 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 7:00, 6:30. 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 I was sitting around the table with his family. And I can still, in my mind, remember coming down the stairs of his house and I could smell – remember the old days, Brute was the big thing, you know? And here’s a bricklayer. This is not a cologne wearing guy.
And he’s coming down. He’s got a tie on. I’m thinking what in the world are you doing? ‘Cause, you know, I’m very cool and very hip. And you’re not. And Brute’s out, man. Didn’t anybody tell you? And I said, Dave, what are you doing? He goes; I’m going on a date with my wife. I said, Dave, I thought you’re married. He said, of course I’m married but every Thursday night we go on a date. I said, why? He said, ‘because I love my wife and I want the romance to stay alive. And I ended up being around Dave for about seven years. He modeled the message.
That’s how he brought me in. And then he didn’t engage me in some program. He engaged me in the action. And then after a little while – you know, we would go down the hall and he was sharing Christ with a few people. And we’d be talking with a guy, and I was an R.A. and so we were talking a little bit. And he says, Chip, why don’t you tell him how you came to Christ? I said, no, Dave. I like your story better. He says, no Chip. Why don’t you go ahead? And I didn’t know what he was doing.
He was teaching me to share my faith. And little by little, he just brought me in by modeling the message. And then he invited me. I didn’t feel pressured. He invited me into the action. And then he engaged me in a very, very authentic relationship. We had those heart to heart talks that you have. He understood me. He cared. And I struggled as a freshman and on the basketball team. And I struggled with girls. And, you know, I struggled with everything. I mean, you’re 18 years old. What do you do? You struggle. But he was kind of like that surrogate dad, older brother that cared, that listened. And he just brought me in.
You know, so 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 involved in activity. And here are five booklets you can read. And here are two books that I read. And listen to these seven tapes. 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-that they’d just be with him. You eat with him. You talk with him. You play with him. You share with him. You just open your life and then you invite them in and you engage with them. And you get 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 did not open a Bible until I was 18. 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. Then we dug out the basement of his house because we went from about six kids to about 250 in personal bible study on a secular campus. And he had all of these little bible studies going. And he would be the teacher. And he would tell you, you know, he’s not like charismatic, but very steady, at times, a little bit boring. I remember listening to tapes and falling asleep. And three years later listening to it like, Dave, this is awesome. He said, “You heard that three years ago but you slept through most of it.”
But when he saw this little light, then pretty soon, he let me teach. It was 50 and then 80 and then a hundred and some students. And he let me teach. He affirmed. And then afterwards, everyone would leave. You know, Chip, you want to have a hot cup of tea? And we’d sit at the little linoleum floor. And he would just list. Boy, you did this really well. That was a great insight about that. I think they really – and he would probably tell me five or six or seven things that were really good about how I taught. And then he would slip in maybe one or two, you know, I think you could even make this better if you. And you know, I, ooh boy, I can’t wait ‘til the next time. But he affirmed my strengths.
You need people – then you inspire their dreams. I was a young pastor. I’ll never forget. And I had these thoughts coming into my head. And I started a little church, about 35 people, and it began to grow. Then we transplanted it to this metropolitan huge area of 4,000 people with no stoplights. That was this big town in Texas. And little by little, I had this picture in my mind that, Lord, I’d like to be the pastor of a large church. And, you know, I didn’t even say that out loud because that sounded so arrogant. Gosh, only the people who’d want to be the pastor of a large church must be just ego centered.
I had this desire in me. And there was a pastor named Don Geiger, who – it was a church called Reinhart Bible Church. He became a mentor during my time in seminary. And I taught the little college group. I’ll never forget, we built a relationship. And as I was in his church, you know, we saw that little church go from about 35 people to about 500 in about seven or eight years, and grow and impact and team up with other churches. But there was this gnawing. And finally, I got honest. I said, Don, you know, there’s a town of 4,000 people. And there are 16 or 18 churches within two miles. If people want to hear the gospel here, they can. I came to seminary to be a missionary. And I’m not a missionary. I’m in rural Texas. And I love these people but they think things are going so great. They want me to retire here. And I’m feeling like, I’m not scratching the surface. I want to be in a cutting edge place. And I want to pastor a large church. Is that wrong? And I remember him just looking at me and going, Chip, you know, pastors of large churches aren’t any better than pastors of small churches. He said, it’s a gift issue. In large churches, you just need to have a combination of communication and leadership gift and God just gives it to you. And you know what? It’s really hard. He has lots of ways to keep you humble. He said, it’s not a bad thing. People call me all the time. There are vacancies all over America. It’s really hard to find that gift mix. And so, he said, if God’s put that on your heart, of course, pray about your motives, but you ought to be open to that.
Within a year, I kind of said, okay, Lord, Santa Cruz Bible Church. See, in this stage, I needed someone to tell me it was okay to dream a dream. That’s what someone needs from you. Someone needs to hear, it’s okay to think outside the box. You want to affirm their strengths. You want to inspire their dreams. And then you want to confront their flaws. I wish I could give you the number but I think of Dave and I think of Don. And I think of a guy named Jerry, and the circles that I was in early in my Christian life. And I look back now because I thought it was normal because it’s all I knew. But I’m realizing many Christians never get this.
The code word in our little ministry was, hey, do you think we can have breakfast at McDonald’s tomorrow? That meant we need to talk about something pretty heavy. So I would meet with Dave or Jerry or someone in the ministry. And I’m about halfway through my little egg mcmuffin. And when they open their Bible to Proverbs 27, you know it’s going to be one of those meetings. And in Proverbs 27, about verse 5 or 6, it says – you know they would read it out loud. That’s how we were all taught to do it. So we did it. You know, “More blessed or better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy.”
In other words, I love you so much. And I mean, how many people have sat across the table from you and looked you in the eye and said, “You are arrogant. You know what? Your mouth gets you in trouble. There’s all kind of – do you understand that what comes out of your mouth is that which fills your heart, Chip? And by the way, you know what, you are self-focused. And do you realize that in situations like this that you always are finding yourself, putting yourself in the center or attention? Chip, you know, I was driving with you the other day and do you think that you’re the most important person on the highway and that these laws are just for other people?” And I mean, bam, bam, bam.
My first reaction wasn’t, oh, thank you, brother. You really love me. My first reaction was, (Laughter), you’re not cool. I’m cool. Right? But I learned. And I look back and they shared what few people – I cherish those people more than all the other people combined in my journey. ‘Cause guess what? I still struggle, but I was arrogant. And I did have a big mouth. And what comes out of your mouth is what fills your heart. And I was, I mean, everything they said – do you realize how you want to please people all the time. Don’t you understand that God can never use you? Don’t you see what Jesus said, how can you glorify God? How can you believe if you’re seeking to please people? And they went to the jugular.
I mean, they went to the heart of the heart of the issues in my character. And they loved me enough to tell me. And you know what that’s produced? I’ve been doing that for the last 25 years with other people. I’ve been doing it with my marriage. I’ve been doing it with my kids. In fact, my kids – the joke in my family – you know, when they get older and they tell you all the funny stuff? You know, it’s funny now but it wasn’t then. You know? All my boys especially, because we had a pretty rowdy good group of guys. And they all love God and walk with Him now. And when you hear them joking with each other they’ll go, oh yeah, dad wants to talk.
And the big line was, guys this is a spiritual issue. My one son will say, how does cleaning your room and school end up a spiritual issue? Well, it’s a character issue. It’s about discipline. Yah, yah, yah, yah, yah, I can hear dad. And you know what’s neat? I pass that on to them because it got passed to me. Jesus four-fold 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 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.
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. Howard Hendricks, spent time with me three of four years in seminary, and after that I traveled with him, and then the next 25 years by phone and tape and book. He has been mentoring my head and my heart and my hands. And he’s a professor and we all just call him Prof. And I mean, 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 I think biblically about relationships, about money, about discipleship, about preaching, about life, about confrontation. He’s just been imprinted as a mentor. He was in my 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 pastor’s 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. You know, he’d have all the people and I’d be walking behind him. You know? 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 – 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 lights are out. And then you realize it’s like 2:30 in the morning?
I had one of those times with Prof. I shared stuff with Prof I’ve never shared with anyone. I shared some struggles I’ve never shared with anyone. 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 direction. Why? 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. 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 of 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. 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. 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.
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 15, writing out the transitions, illustrations. Real life change happened in small groups. So I’m running all these small groups. You know, spending the least amount of time as I can in preaching. Working 70 or 80 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 know, you’ve got gift, man.
And he said, I’ll tell you this. God’s not going to ask you – here’s the thing. You 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? Yeah, pretty good. He said, well, I got news for you. You’re not near as good as you think. And he said, the difference is that – 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 15 percent of a good message is hard work. And you’re not doing it. And God’s given you significant gift. And you’re going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, Chip. And you better figure that out and you 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 ‘cause he does work a lot. But he doesn’t believe in preaching. And you know, 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, work on messages. And I began on the last 15 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 I put it in and watched it and thought, that guy, 20 years ago changed my life. That’s what – you want to be that guy. You want to be that gal, 20 years from now, if the Lord doesn’t come back. And they’ll say, you know what? You know, it was at this restaurant or 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. With structure. And then finally, you send them out. What’d he say? What’d he do? “Therefore, he says to his disciples, go in 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 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. You know, 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? I mean, 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. I mean, 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 not senior pastors. And they are growing churches. I just visited and got to preach at one. There were about 400 when he got there and there are about 1,600 to 2,000 now. And the worship service and the quality, literally, there is 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, and 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 18 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, 8 or 10 of them, every year. And he takes them through a full year. And he says, you know, of all the things I’ve done, Chip, I gotta tell you the real difference in this church isn’t the preaching, the music, the this or that. I think I’ve got about 80 guys that I’ve taken through this systematic time. And you know what he’s doing? Amazing. He’s bringing ‘em 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 a Prof Hendricks, who is my mentor. 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 is a lack of discipline. “We can not impart what we do not possess.” And when you look at 1 Corinthians 4:16, 17, what’s Paul say? Imitate me. You can’t – 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 kind of 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. You know? 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 or getting up a half hour earlier is required. Deciding this really matters. It’s amazing how disciplined people can be in our world then 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 hinderance. I love that. You know, Prof, I made a list of – this is probably half of the guys Prof mentored: Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Joe Sole, Tony Evans, Dennis Rainey, Andy Stanley, Michael Easley, Bruce Wilkerson, John Trent. And those are the only ones I could think 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 whom? Why? He understood. He saw beyond his own lifespan. When Howard Hendricks goes to be with the Lord, 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 20 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, and then you want to send them out. You do that by modeling it, with 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.