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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
Who are the people in your Mt. Rushmore? Mine was a coach, another my sister, another Dave, and the fourth, over here, is Howard Hendricks. And you’ve heard lots of stories, but I learned, from Howard Hendricks, that you could take your gift, and you could dream a dream, and you could have clear…
I still can remember, on the board, him writing, “Objectives, Priorities, Schedule, Discipline.” “God will never love you more than He loves you right now, gentlemen,” he said, “but His blessing, His blessing is dependent upon your obedience.” You can never earn His favor. There are no brownie points, no gold stars on the refrigerators in Heaven, but every man needs to make up his mind, what do you want to do with your life.
So, you need to have an objective and a target. You want to be a man of God? Then determine, I want to be a man of God. And if you want to be a man of God, it has to be a priority, more important than anything or anyone else. And then, you have to put that in your schedule, and say, What does it look like? When will you get up, what will you read, what will you do? And then, you’ve got to discipline yourself to do it, not to earn anybody’s favor, but God’s. Those four things.
You know, Prof. taught me that you’re given gifts and life’s a stewardship, and God really does want to bless ordinary people.
Who’s on your Mt. Rushmore, mentally, right now? Who are those people? Because it’s going to tell you where the needs surface. It’s going to tell you what antennas, because those needs that those people met are going to be the needs also, probably, in the future.
Well, I’m going to give you my last one. Right in the center, where everyone else looks, is the person who has impacted my life, more than Howard Hendricks, or Punky, or Dave Marshall, or Coach, and that is my wife. My wife has had more impact on my life than anyone else, because she has more integrity, I live up close, she has more integrity than anyone I know. She has more devotion to God, evidenced by watching her get up for years, and get up in the wee hours of the morning, even when we had small kids. And I’ve seen her on her knees, and I’ve heard her cry out for God. And I’ve watched her pray, and I’ve watched her support me.
She is more mentally tough than any player, in any game, on any team I’ve ever played on, and it’s something I admire. There just ain’t no “give up” in Theresa. And those of you that know her story – she was a single mom for a while, and she had a tiny little boy on each hip, and no way to support herself, and trying to figure out what to do. And she clung to God, and came to Christ, and God supplied.
And I’ll tell you what, we’ve been through some really, we’ve been through times digging quarters out of the backseat – five, six, seven eight dollars in a co-op, and taking the fruit and vegetables to live on. And you know what? I’ve never heard her complain about our lifestyle. I’ve never, ever heard her. So far, every time we move, she knows for sure it’s God’s will, and she knows she doesn’t want to do it. It’s just a pattern. “Don’t take me out to that little place!” And she cried in the Chinese restaurant.
And then, when we went from Kaufman all the way out to California, she and all the kids cried, all the way to Amarillo. And then, when it was California back to Atlanta, she cried. And you know what? There are a lot of women who say, “Honey, if you want to go, you just go ahead. My family’s here. Things are here.” My wife submits to God, and does what He wants her to, when it feels good, and when it’s terribly painful.
And when you live up next to that kind of loyalty, and courage, and integrity, and devotion, I’ll tell you what. That exaggerating in messages? You can only do that so long with someone, after each time you do it, says, “Chip, why did you lie to those people today?” She looks really sweet and everything, and she is. But she’s a very, very tough sweet, and she has changed my life more than anyone else. She has filled the gaps, and the wounds, and the deficits more than anybody else.
If you want to pursue great people, start, first, with your rearview mirror. And I would encourage you, as just a little discipline – you can change the faces, you know? It’s okay. But go through and jot down the four or five people that have most impacted your life, and you will begin to see exactly who God has used, and, likely, the roles that He’ll want to use in the future.
Next, I encourage you to look out of the windshield of your life. And out of the windshield, we all need three kinds of people. And since Howard Hendricks was my mentor, I want to give credit here. This isn’t from me; this is from him. But see, I caught it more than it was taught.
And Prof. Hendricks would tell you, and tell me, we all need three kinds of people. Number one, we all need a Paul in our life. We need someone to learn from. Second, we all need a Barnabas: a friend, a peer, someone to share life with, someone with whom you’re just hand in hand, arm in arm. You’re on the same page, at the same level. And, third, we all need a Timothy. We need someone that we’re helping grow. A Barnabas, someone you share life with; a Timothy, someone that you give life to; and a Paul, someone who helps you.
So, let me ask you, you got a Paul in your life? Do you have a person in your life that is a go-to person that helps you grow, that you know they’re a few miles further down the road, spiritually, than you, and you can talk to him, and ask him, and pray with him? Do you have a Barnabas? Do you have a soul mate? Do you have someone that you can just, you’re in this life together. You can pick up the phone, and, instantly, you’re on the same page? And then, do you have a Timothy? Do you have someone that you are building into their life, and praying, by God’s grace, that what Dave did in my life, and what Prof. did in my life they’ll be in yours? I’ll give you three quick examples, because it’s very rare to have ones that are in your life for a long period of time. Right? We move. A lot of things happen. What I find is, that Paul may be this person this year, another person two years from now, another person – and different roles for different seasons of your life. And you know what? You might, but now and then, you get a Paul that sticks around, and a Barnabas that sticks around, and a Timothy that sticks around, that I think is both rare and precious.
But I went to a little country church, and, man, I needed a father figure. And there was a guy on the elder board there, named A.C. And he just took me under his wing. And we worked out together, and I shared struggles with him. My older boys were, like, in third grade then.
He’s counseled, rebuked, invested, painted bathrooms in the house with me, and just done life.
When I was coming out here, I’m going through issues like you’re going through issues. And he’s got issues, and my life. I came out a day early, and I came out a day early so we could meet with one other guy. But I wanted just to get with A.C., so there was one man I could unzip my heart and say, “Hey, man, here’s the hot ones in me. How are they going in your life? And we took some walks, we ate some meals, we got a couple workouts, and then, we just data dumped, heart dumped. I need that. I’ve got to have a Paul in my life. I don’t think you ever outgrow it.
And then, we were eating lunch – and this is what Pauls do, because they have the freedom. He had this little card. I couldn’t read it; it was really small. We’d been eating and talking – and we’re really close. And he pulls out this little, white card, and he has this goofy – he does a lot of goofy stuff, to tell you the truth – but he had this goofy look. And he said, and I could tell he’s reading off this card. “Have you viewed any sexually explicit material in the recent past?” And I’m thinking, like, What happened to “pass the hamburger” or something?
And you know what I knew? What I knew was, he was dead serious. I said, “No.” He said, “Have you, in any way, misused your finances, or used them in a way that wouldn’t honor God, in the past sixty, thirty, ninety days?” And he went through my thought life, my sex life, my integrity. And then, the last question, after he went through this list – he smiled, and he said, “Have you lied to me in your answers to any of the last five or six questions?” Got a Paul? You know how much that protects you? So, you’ve got to pursue great people, got to go after them.
You also need a Barnabas. I had a fellow that we just linked hearts, the first basketball trip out, a guy named Glen Miller. And Glen was a man of devotion, and heart, and love. And he went off later to be a missionary in Sri Lanka, later became a pastor. And for twenty years, Glen and I have stayed in touch, and he’s just been a peer. He’s a little bit older than me. He’s like that little bit older big brother. But I was a little farther ahead, early, spiritually.
And so, the first trip we went on, we memorized the book of Philippians together. The next trip we went on, we memorized the book of James together. This guy has got zeal that is over the top. He leaves me voice messages in Tagalog: [sings in Tagalog] “Hey, Ingram. How you doing buddy? Are you rejoicing in the Lord? Ay, ay, isn’t it sweet?” He talks about God like He’s just in the room. And he’s just winsome Barnabas. And what I know, and what he knows, is, no matter where we’re at in the world or the country, it’s just, we’re peers.
He’s got a dream, where he’s building orphanages now in Africa, along with pastoring a church. And someone who is just running at the same place on the track with you that you can bounce stuff off of.
The third area is a Timothy, someone you get to invest in. And there was a guy who was a football coach in that little town. And A.C. had me and him meet together, and we’d review and memorize these verses. See, you do life together. The thinking great thoughts and reading great books – I don’t know about you, but I’m not disciplined to do that. But you find a couple guys, or you find a couple gals, and you say, “Let’s do it on this morning, at this time.”
And we went to the feed store. And we’d eat a little breakfast, and we’d all go over our verses, and memorize a couple verses. And little by little by little by little, you grow. And pretty soon, he’s a football coach, defensive back – his name was Steve. And Steve came on staff at that little church, and it started to grow. And then, I went to California, and he came and did the college group. Then, he did the small groups. Then, he did this, and then, he ran the staff.
And then, he hit forty-five. And I’ll never forget the day – because we worked together for eighteen years. I got way more credit. I could kind of dream it, and he could make it happen. And he hit forty-five, and I hit it about a year or two before him. And he said, “You know something? You know that agreement we had? We’re going to work together, as long as we live, until God brings us to a point where we think we can do more good for the Kingdom apart.”
And since we’re both a couple old coaches, he said, “Hey, dude, I think the run has ended.” And I said, “I think you’re right.” And we were learning some things in leadership together, and he said, “I’ve done every job in this church, and there’s only one I really want to do, and you’re not retiring, are you?” I said, “No, I’m not.” He said, “Then I’ve got to do what you’re doing. I’ve got to be a senior pastor.”
Guess what he’s doing – you know what he’s doing? He’s doing what I got to teach him, and what I got to learn from Prof.
See, you pursue great people. And, now, you get on the phone, and sometimes those Timothys just turn into Barnabases. And I learned more from Steve than, I’m sure, he’s ever learned from me. Pursue great people.
And you’ll never have time in your schedule to do it. Busyness is the curse of our day, and I struggle with it as much as you. You will have to come up with a specific plan. But you’ve got to look out the windshield, and ask yourself, Who out there could be a Paul in my life right now? Who out there could be a Barnabas that I could share life – who could be a Timothy? And you know what? You only have to be a half a step ahead of someone to teach them what you know. You don’t have to have it all together.
The final thing I’d like to share here is, to get you started without getting you discouraged. And, so, I want to give a warning to heed, a warning to heed. And the warning is this, for Timothys looking for Pauls: Often, God will use a variety of people. Don’t believe there’s some person, who will have it all together, that’s going to be this person who is going to sustain and help you grow, for the rest of your life.
It’ll be more like a revolving door of different people, different seasons, to meet different needs as you grow. Now, sometimes you get that special person that you stay in touch with. I think that’s more rare than it is normal.
So, when you’re looking for that Paul, don’t get your expectations, like, they’re going to meet with you every week, and it’s going to be this way, or that way.
Secondly, a warning for Pauls looking for Timothys: You can’t get where all you do is give. Some of you are in a season of your life where you’re giving to people, you’re giving to people, you’re giving to people, but there’s no one giving into you.
You can’t figure out why you’re losing the joy, and you’re tired. Because you know what? You need some V.E.P. people in your life – very encouraging people.
When you’re a Paul, and people are looking to you, and you’ve hit a time of maturity, and you’re helping this guy over here, in a Bible study with these women over here, and then you’re teaching over here, and you’re trying to raise this – you can give, give, give, and Pauls – what’ll happen is, a lot of people really get burned out because no one’s giving to them.
You don’t give yourself permission to get renewed. You don’t give yourself permission to have fun. You don’t give yourself permission to let someone build into your life, or have a few relationships – this is hard for some of you guys, and some of you driven women. Have some relationships where you don’t have to get anything done, you just get to hang out.
Tonight, at supper, I got to eat with a couple real buddies, guys that I go way back with. And part of it – they have so built in my life, but one of the great things about them, we just hang. We laugh. We play golf. We play tennis. We just cut up. We share our hearts.
But just having some people in your life that, when I’m around them, I don’t have to be anybody but Chip. I don’t have to be a pastor. I don’t have to perform. I don’t worry about, they just love me. They just love me, and they like to be with me, and I like to be with them. And if you’re a Paul, you’ve got to have some of that in your life. And if you don’t, you’ll find yourself hurting.
Now, let me give you an action plan to go on. Number one, an action plan to follow. I gave you a perspective to consider – role players – and now, an action plan to follow. Number one: Pray earnestly.
Number two: Take initiative. I just, over the years, I just have an antennae. As soon as I got to Atlanta, I thought, Who, Lord? Who? I’ve got to find some guys that are walking with God. I’ve got to find some guys that really love You. I’ve got to find someone that is farther down the road than me.
I just started looking for – I know I need a cheerleader. I need a confidant. I need a sponsor. I need role players. I don’t know if they’re going to be my Paul. And I’m still going to call on the phone, and actually arrange my schedule, but I’ve got to find people who are going to be a Paul in my life.
And then, I’ve got to find some Barnabases. And then, I’ve got to ask myself, Okay, it’s a new world; it’s a new day. Are there some people that You want me to invest my life in? But you take initiative.
And three: Start in your relational network. The Paul, Timothys, and Barnabases are probably already in your relational network. Start there.
Four is: Ask for help.
And you can look for your Paul, and you can look for a soulmate Barnabas. And then, all the while, you find someone that you have a little bit more than they have, and you start giving it away, and I’m telling you, you’ll become great in God’s eyes.