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About this series
Leaving a Legacy that Lasts Forever
How to Give Your Kids and Grandkids What Money Can't Buy
How do you leave a legacy that stands the test of time? How do you give others what money can't buy? We all desire to leave an inheritance of significant value to those around us. So, just what does that include? We can leave money and possessions, but what can we leave that really matters and will echo throughout time?More from this series
Sixty to eighty percent of a person’s waking hours on this planet is consumed with an activity called “work.” Now, that work can be at home, but it’s work. Now, think of that. If you’re not sleeping or eating, sixty to eighty percent of your waking hours your entire life, you’re doing this thing called “work.”
And so, I want to ask you to ponder three questions with me before we talk about what we want to pass on to those we love the most. And whether that’s who we are discipling or our men’s group, our women’s group, our kids, our grandkids – three questions to really think about when we begin to talk about this area of work.
Question number one is: How can you help those you love the most live above the daily grind? Let’s go back to our little analogy where we say, If you knew, from this moment right now, three hundred and sixty five days, you are going to die, and you had three hundred and sixty-five days and you knew people that you love, one of your kids, one of your grandkids, your best friend, someone you led to the Lord, some guys that you’re in a Bible study with, these gals that you love and care for. And you know that sixty to eighty percent of their entire lives are they are going to keep working after you die.
How could you deliver them from the daily grind of: get up, go to work, grab a cup of coffee, come in, go down, eat some supper, do a drive-thru, watch a couple of hours of TV, go to bed, get up, go to…
And then wait for the weekend. That’s how most people are living their lives. Can you imagine the gift it would be if you could pass something on where that would not be their experience?
Question number two is: Why are the majority of Americans dissatisfied with their jobs? And I would say probably maybe well beyond America. But all the research is they are bored, they are unfulfilled, it’s basically almost a paycheck or a necessary evil.
Now, there are great exceptions. You meet people and they say, “I would do this if they didn’t pay me. I love what I do. I was made to do this.” But by and large, the research tells us, most people go to their job, it’s a paycheck, I need the money, but I’m not waking up, there are not a lot of people going, Thank God it’s Monday. It’s Monday! I love it! Monday! Hoo-hoo! Right? Most people are saying, Thank God it’s Friday.
Question number three: How can the place where we spend the majority of our waking hours be transformed from drudgery to delight? Can you imagine being able to pass that on to people?
Now, I’m not saying that every moment of every day, as people are working, it’s just high-fiving each other in the halls or on the job site. But where they would sense a genuine, I can’t believe I get to do this. I was made to do this. I love to do this.
Now, there are pressures with any job, there are demands of any job, we feel overwhelmed at times. But where you could pass on some truth to those you love the most that they would, from this point, to the day they die, actually do what God designed them to do and it would produce a joy in them that is not reserved for the weekends, but would be what they do 24/7, what they look forward to, and it would produce a fruit and an impact in the lives of other people that they would go, Well, I can’t believe, you mean other people are positively impacted by me like this?
And here is the second core value, the transferrable concept, is: teach them to work unto the Lord. And so, to do this, I want to jump in and I want to go over a theology of work, because I don’t think we think very clearly or biblically about work.
And it might surprise you. It is not a necessary evil, it’s not bad, God instituted work before sin ever entered the world.
And so, what I want to do is talk about a theology of work and then I want to get real practical again and say, “How could you pass on this truth in a way to those that you love the most?”
First of all, then, work is a calling, not a job. That word calling is kind of interesting. You might hear someone say, “Well, what is your vocation?” The Latin word for vocation is calling. Years ago, a hundred years ago or more, when people talked about your vocation, it wasn’t what you do to make money. It was, “What have you been called by God to do?”
It was Martin Luther who said that a shoemaker making a shoe for the glory of God, using his skill, is just as holy as a pastor preaching a sermon. And he used that illustration with many trade jobs. But his point was: we all have a calling. God made us and gifted us differently and when you do that for the glory of God, it is just as holy as “spiritual activity.”
In our culture today, there tend to be two motives for a job or for work. And I will play this out. Let’s say you have a nephew or a friend or someone that you are discipling or one of your kids or a grandchild that is ready to go to college.
And they are trying to figure out what should they major in, right? This is really big. What should I major in? I feel like I’m…
Or, I’m either out of high school and they are, What should I do? Should I go to college or should I get a trade job? Or should I go into business with the family? What should I do?
And here is a parental response that we have learned from our culture. “Well, honey, I don’t know, but we just want you to be happy. It doesn’t really matter to me, I just want you to be happy in whatever you do. Because, see, life is really all about you. You see, we live in a narcissistic society and we want you to know that you are the center of the universe and the only thing that really matters, not how much money or you change your major seven times. Or if you figure out how to squeeze that four-year education into six, we just want you to have fun in that dorm room, to make lots of friends and grow up and be a wonderful, happy little… because that’s how life will be later. Everyone is just going to be coming at the doorstep of your life, trying to make your life work out for you.”
I want to tell you that the answer to the question, though very sincere and in earlier days, I have said it myself, saying to our kids, when they say, “What should I do with my life?” the answer, “I only want you to be happy,” is not biblical, is not smart, is not wise, and will not get them in a good direction.
How much does an eighteen or seventeen-year-old know or nineteen-year-old know about what is really “going to make them happy,” or what is best?
The other extreme we have, and Christians are more sophisticated in how we communicate this, so on the one extreme it’s we want them to be happy. On the other extreme it’s like in the real roll-up-your-sleeves, pagan world, it’s, “Well, what pays best? Son, you have to make a living. You want to get ahead? Get a good education.”
Or, forget that, I’ll tell you, here’s where the job market is. Here’s where you can make money! The goal of a job is money! Make lots of money! Why? Because you need lots of money! Well, why do you need lots of money? So you can be successful. Well, why do you need to be successful? So you can have a big house! Why do you need a big house? So people will know you’re successful! And then you can have another house and you can buy these kinds of cars and have a purse that has this design and wear a watch that says certain things. Well, you have to have money. Well, why? So you can be fulfilled and you can be powerful and you can have it together and then you can take vacations. Where? Wherever you want! Because money is the key. You have to make a lot of money!
“Well, gosh, Dad, I see a lot of people and they have a lot of money and they don’t seem like they are very happy.” “Hey, just don’t give me all that. Quit talking back. You need to get a good job, a good education, make a lot of money, because you’re a reflection of me. Don’t you understand? I’m vicariously living my life in subtle ways through you. And your SAT scores are a reflection on me. And what college you go to is a reflection on me. And because it’s not really all about you, it’s all about me, I am going to package this in a different way so you think it’s really about you.”
And so, we have communicated that work is about either making a lot of money or really being happy. And I want to suggest that God would say it’s about a calling. Those people that you love the most: kids, disciples, best friends, grandkids, Bible study partners – God has a call of what they should do. And when they do what He made them to do, they will have incredible internal joy and incredible external impact.
And with that, then we have to begin to teach again that all work is sacred. All work is sacred. Jot down 1 Corinthians 10:31. He says, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” All work is sacred.
Early, when I came to Christ, just right after high school, I went to a college campus and there was a bricklayer with a high school education who was trained by the Navigators. And he had his own business and he would lay brick by day and he opened his home and had a discipleship ministry on this campus by night.
And after two or three years, he began to help me and I was sort of slow, spiritually, and it took me a while to get going. And once I started to grow, then I spent a summer there once and I needed a job. He said, “Well, why don’t you work with me?”
And then later, he started at another campus. His work was a tent-making ministry. And so this campus grew from three of us in the living room to two hundred and fifty students on that campus.
Then he went to another campus and said, “Chip, why don’t you come with me and we will see if God will do this again?” And I said, “Okay.” So I want to learn.
So I didn’t have a job so I am a hod carrier. And that means you mix the mud and he liked to do it by hand for reasons I never did experience, because I’m the guy doing it by hand. And then he had fourteen bricks or twelve bricks and then we did a lot of foundations. And so, it was really, really hard work.
And he had a line of people because he was so good. People wanted him to do their work.
And I remember we worked on a foundation and we would work for about a day and a half. And one day he said, “Chip, grab that line.” And I grabbed the line. And he took the line down and snapped it. And he looked this way and took the line down this way. And we had it up about this high, three quarters of the way around on three walls.
And he looked and just, with his foot, he just started kicking the walls down. And I go, “Dave, what are you doing, man?” He said, “It’s out,” and I can’t remember the exact. It was like out a half inch. And I said, “Dave, you’re the expert, but a half inch is like, that is not making a…”
He said, “That’s not good enough for my work.” He said, “Chip, you need to understand. I’m not building this house for these people. I build houses for an audience of One. And when I do my work, it’s not about what other people think. I do my work because this is my offering today to Jesus Christ, and I will not give Him less than my best. I’m not sure how I did it, and I’ve done a lot of foundations. I blew it on this one.”
And he kicked them over and he says, “Clean this stuff away, we’re starting over.” That was worth ten thousand sermons. I learned all work is sacred. And for some of us, especially in that sort of middle to upper class, we have bought a lie that if our kids don’t go to college, somehow they are not successful.
Some of the best, wealthiest, and most successful people that are in my world right now, none of them went to college. They got bored with college. They didn’t like school.
And so they just figured out how to start their own businesses and do what God made them to do and have a lot of fun and be very successful at it.
We have this white-collar, blue-collar, mundane, tell you what: everyone is made to do something different. And the issue is not this little pecking order of status and money. The issue is helping those you love the most discover: what did God make them to do?
And what we understand as we get older, we really care about what our kids do when we are in our thirties and forties. You get into your sixties and seventies, you don’t care what vocation your kids or grandkids have. You care that they love God, they have marriages they stay in, they really care for one another, and they still want to talk to you.
Right? It’s all about character. But you know how character grows is we need to make sure they do and we help them and coach them, not to fulfill our vicarious, “make me look good,” but we want to help them fulfill what God made them to do.
The third theology of work is that our work is to flow from God’s unique design and purpose for our lives. Purpose is they key word there.
The work I am called to do, that you are called to do, that those that you want to pass things on to are called to do, God has a unique design. Jot in your notes: Ephesians 2:10. God has a unique design.
Your job, we are going to learn a little bit later and we will talk about how, is to help them discover the unique design or purpose God has for their lives.
Now, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, many of you have memorized, right? “For by grace we are saved through faith. And that’s not of yourselves. It’s the gift of God, not as a result of works, lest any man should boast.”
Can I highly suggest that you go the next step and memorize verse 10? “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God ordained beforehand, from the foundations of the earth, that we should walk in them.”
We are not saved from our sin by our good works. We are saved by grace as we put our faith in the work of Christ on the cross. But we are saved for good works.
And we are His workmanship. That word workmanship – that word workmanship – we get our English word, poem. It’s the picture of craftsmanship, of a tapestry coming together. It’s a picture of a cabinetmaker doing his finest work, or a sculptor.
You are, if you will, and those you love, they are on this little platform of God creating a beautiful work. You are His workmanship. But now you are created in Christ Jesus, unto a good work.
There is a good work that you are made for, you are gifted for, you are prepared for, you came out of this family for, you have the right height for, you have the right personality for, you have the right spiritual gift deposited in you for, you have some baggage and hurts and pains that you have had to overcome that will fit you for this good work.
God is going to use all things working together to fulfill you doing this good work He has prepared for you.
Well, guess what – that’s what He has for those we love. That what He has for that young guy coming over, that group on Monday nights where we did a Bible study of that twenty-something people. God has that for my sons, God has that for my grandchildren, God has that for a group of women that you are meeting with and maybe going through a Kay Arthur or a Beth Moore study. God has that for the people that you care about at work that you find out they are a Christian and they are starting to ask you questions.
How do you pass on the things that matter most? Work is a calling, all work is sacred, and our work is to flow from our unique purpose.
We are to co-labor with God in this vocation. And you know what? Jot down, if you would, under this, I love Paul’s testimony. It’s 1 Corinthians 15:10. He really had this one down.
He says, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” He wasn’t trying to be anybody else. “I am what I am by the grace of God and His grace did not prove vain toward me, but I labored more than all of them.” There is responsibility. “Yet not I, but the grace of God in me.”
In other words, Paul understood that, “All my training under Gamaliel, all my baggage, even as a Pharisee, all my legalism, all the blindness I had, even my persecuting of the Church. You know what? God is lovingly redeeming, taking the worst of all my past, realigning it,” and many secular scholars think he was the brightest, really the brightest brain of his century.
“I am what I am by the grace of God.” That’s my dream for those I care about most. I want my kids to look in the mirror and say, You know what? Now, I’ve got a lot of struggles, but I am what I am by the grace of God. And His grace did not prove vain toward me.
The Old Testament roots are Genesis 2:15. You have that in your notes where you see this picture of God placing Adam in the garden and there is no sin and He says, “Look, I want you to cultivate.” Ooh. “I want you to rule. I want you to work. I want you to be a co-regent. I want you to be a co-creator. I want you to partner with Me. I am a Creator.”
You know what? Didn’t God do some work for six days and He got a lot done.
So work is not a dirty word. He says, “I want you to get to experience, because you are made in My image. Look, here is this perfect environment. Now, you work. I want you to name things, I want you to build things, I want you to create things, I want you to dream things.”
That’s how we need to see work. It’s to express our creativity, to subdue, to rule, to develop, to make beautiful.
And the two pictures, biblical profiles are Adam that we have talked about, and again Paul. And if you don’t mind, I would love to read. I love the way Paul says this. It’s Acts 20, verse 24. And this is one of those modern translations. But I just love the way he says this.
He says, “But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus.” Isn’t that great? And then he understood his. “The work of telling others the good news about God’s wonderful kindness and love.”
Now, ultimately, if you’re called to be a plumber or a builder or a software engineer or a stay-at-home mom; if you’re called to be a professional athlete or an artist or a musician or a businessman or a business woman, then you will tell others about the love of God by actually how you do your work. And by what you say. But that calling is different. His was into full-time, vocational, he was an apostle.
The New Testament command is Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do,” now, let’s see, what do you think that would cover? I mean, ponder this. “Whatever.” Gosh, would that have to do with my hobbies? Yeah. Okay, would that have to do when I eat? Yeah. Would that have to do with just when I go to church? No. Is this just “spiritual stuff?” “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
This is revolutionary. Can you imagine what would happen if you were the president of a company and everyone who showed up said, “Hey, I really appreciate you. I know God put you in this place. I don’t work for you. I work for God. I’ll tell you what, I don’t leave early because I work for God. I do my best because I work for God. I submit to authority that I don’t agree with because I work for God. I want to keep improving. I go home and read books about my job because I work for God. I want to develop my gifts because I work for God.”
Can you imagine the difference that would make? Do you see the impact that has? We are all, we want to change the culture and we have tried it in lots of different ways. You want to change the culture? Show up for work and work for God and be an awesome boss, an awesome supervisor, an awesome employee who loves people and does excellent, excellent work and I will tell you what, you’ll change your world and change your culture.
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, 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…
Now, 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, 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?
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.” “I’m in the fourth grade! 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 I think 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, 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, Ephesians 4. And I went over those quickly.
But there are lots of excellent resources to help people discover their spiritual gifts. 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…? 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…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 was 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’ve got 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, now, 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. I mean…
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.
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.