John 12:24-25 “Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, but whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Jesus words are both compelling and convicting. His kingdom is an upside down kingdom to the popular voice of self-centeredness and self-absorption that we are saturated with in our culture. Jesus says that in order to truly live, you must love this temporary world less for the sake of others eternities. A life surrendered to Christ doesn’t exist for ones self but for the benefit of others. Following Jesus isn’t “me first” but “Christ first” and the application of that is in the way we relate to and treat others.
Proverbs 18:1 ‘Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment’
Proverbs 22:17 ‘Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise.’
Over the last month I have spent more time on the phone and in person chatting with key people in my world than I have for a long time. Why? Cause I need to hear the wisdom of others and so do you. I have always created space in my world for people I respect and admire to speak into my life but I think it’s specially important when navigating an important season in your life. I started my ministry running my own show and realised I needed to broaden the voices speaking into my life. Thank God for sending me godly men to speak into my world.
Studying the Scriptures and praying daily is hugely helpful and strongly recommended but is one key part of a holistic process of growing as a person. Without a community of people around us speaking into our lives, we can develop our theological ideas about life in a way that isn’t helpful to ourselves or even balanced. A disciple is a learner, a student who submits and commits to assume a posture of listening and learning. This includes from key coaches, mentors and peers around us.
I would suggest having a compass of relationships in your world that includes mentors (north); peers (east); protegé (south) and friends (west) that you have scheduled catch ups with regularly.
We live in a culture that promotes the independent autonomy of the individual. This is embraced at the individuals personal expense. Nothing can be gained in living by your own judgment alone. What you don’t know can actually hurt you. I prefer to learn from the mistakes and successes of others than learn the hard way through my own selfish isolation. Listen, if it’s good enough for Bill Gates to have someone speaking into his life, it’s good enough for you.
Can you actually name the person(s) who speak into your life regularly? Are they respected by others? Does their counsel ring true more often than not? Do you walk away from the conversation feeling better off for spending time with them? Do you enjoy their company or do you endure your time with them? Where can they best contribute to your personal growth and development? What have you learnt from them so far in your relationship?
These are all important questions to consider. It’s scary to think that some of us have no one speaking into our personal worlds at all. I encourage you to position yourself and make yourself available to spend time with that significant other person who will sharpen you up. We all need someone to speak into our lives!
There will be no surprise confessions today but simply a call to come out of the closet with the gifts that God has given to you. Stop hiding them away and use them.
The manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Your gifts and talents are not given to you for private admiration but public demonstration. The Greek word for manifestation is (phanerosis) and it means revelation or manifestation. When we use our gifts publicly to serve others, we are revealing or manifesting the presence and power of God to the world around us.
Spiritual gifts aren’t God giving something external to himself, like you would give a present to someone at Christmas time. Spiritual gifts are God himself manifesting an aspect of his presence through your life. God manifests himself through us in a variety of ways and we are to celebrate the unique way God has wired us up.
Unfortunately, the western church has privatized God. We have made faith in God a private matter. Rubbish… The gospel is meant to be heard and God’s power is meant to be witnessed to (Acts 1:8). Stop being a secret agent for God and start being the city on a hill God has called you to be. The church is the Spirit’s public. You are the mouth, hands and feet of the Holy Spirit sent to the world.
The BIG idea of why the church exists is found in Matthew 28:18-20. The church exists at the core to make disciples of Jesus. You must be convinced that disciple making is for everyone, and not just a few elite people who have the gifting and passion for it.
Why is making disciples so important? Jesus has commanded us to disciple and Jesus has modeled to us what disciple making looks like. The early church lived and breathed it and unless the church makes disciple making the main agenda, world evangelization won’t take place.
It’s not enough for the church to have an overseas mission program and neglect mission at home base. Weak mission at home weakens mission thrust in foreign lands. When the local church prioritizes disciple making, Christians become healthy and start to reproduce more disciples.
Technically, every Christian is a disciple of Jesus and called to make disciples. God expects every believer to be a mature, reproducing disciple. Disciple making isn’t an even, it’s a process and a lifestyle. Jesus Christ is our chief example of disciple making. Jesus wasn’t random in his ministry. He had a plan, priorities and goals. So important was the mission to Jesus that he made 5 Great Commission declarations throughout his ministry. If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying over and over again.
There were 4 key statements in the Gospels that help us focus in on the disciple making process in the life of the local church:
- Come and see = Invite people to activities that introduce them to Christ and the church.
- Come and follow me = Show people how to follow Christ and do it with them in a life group.
- Come and be with me = Train disciples to lead others and let them do it themselves
- Remain in me and Go and make disciples = Send disciples out to make more disciples
In order for this process to work every believer must shift their focus outward, rather than inward. The more we keep focused on our own little worlds, the more dysfunctional we become but the more outward focused we are, the more healthy we become.