After doing a lot of research on an area, I often create a document that synthesizes the most significant principles I’ve learned on the subject. A few years ago I did this on the subject of organizational health. I thought it might be useful to share them with you. In this case, I focused mostly on one book, Patrick Lencioni’s excellent The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. So these are essentially my notes from his book, organized for the purpose of making them as easy to follow as possible.
Organizational Health Principles
Notes from Patrick Lencioni’s The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, and a few other things.
- It is the appreciation for simplicity and discipline that makes one an extraordinary executive.
- Success is not so much a function of intelligence or natural ability, but rather of commitment to the right disciplines.
- We can become poor leaders if we let ourselves become distracted by overly tactical and political matters.
- Organizational health is one competitive advantage that is available to any company that wants it, yet it is largely ignored. And, it is highly sustainable because it is not based on information or intellectual property. It should occupy a lot of time and attention of extraordinary executives (139).
- “A healthy organization is one that has less politics and confusion, higher morale and productivity, lower unwanted turnover, and lower recruiting costs than an unhealthy one” (140).
- The core idea of organizational health is to create, communicate, and reinforce organizational clarity.
- There are four components to creating a healthy organization: create a cohesive leadership team, create organizational clarity, over-communicate organizational clarity, and reinforce organizational clarity through human systems.
I recently received a helpful question from a reader who was looking for a framework to help him think through his business in a comprehensive way. I thought it might be good to make this more broadly available as well, so here’s the main part of what I shared (less the actual links and, of course, the book images!).
Great question regarding frameworks. I agree that discovering the framework behind anything helps you understand it much better. For business and management, I follow the framework Tom Peters gives in one of the first three chapters or so of his book In Search of Excellence, which I find to be super helpful and without holes:
- Guiding concepts (mission, values, standards; should be unchanging)
- Strategy (how to get from here to there; changes with environment but must be consistent with guiding concepts)
- Structure (how everyone is organized to get from here to there; so must align with the strategy and, again, must reflect the guiding concepts)
- Systems (mechanisms that make things work and keep them running that are woven throughout the structure–things like hiring practices, firing practices, performance management, the systems for executing the specific work of the organization, and so forth)
- Skills and style (people’s abilities and strengths harnessed in the service of the organization’s purpose)
- People (the actual people)
An excellent article at the 99% on how ”non-cognitive traits like optimism, zest, gratitude, and grit make children (and adults) more likely to succeed.”
This article discusses scientific research backing this. What’s interesting is that this is an excellent statement of the character ethic, which states that success is most fundamentally a function of your character rather than your technique (I talk about this a bit in my book). Here we have scientific confirmation.
Not that scientific confirmation is essential, or that success is first about what you achieve in life, but it is interesting nonetheless.
Individualize. Understand our uniqueness so that they treat us according to how God has made us, not how they wish he had made us.
This is why those who say “The Golden Rule is off-based — when I treat others how I prefer to be treated, they don’t like it.”
The problem with that statement is that it misses the crucial step. Each of us want to be treated individually and understood accurately. Do that for others first, then do unto them as you would have done unto you if those things were true of you.
The reason is that the work God enables you to do for him is a gift. A gift to you, first of all.
This is why it makes no sense to compare. Why would we begrudge that God did not give us a gift intended for another? It wouldn’t fit. It would be like giving size 8 shoes to someone who needs size 10.
It is not that one size is better than another, but that one size fits one person rather than another, so that the full spectrum of God’s varied grace may be displayed.
(Note: If you truly want to excel, pursue love and seek to “outdo one another in showing honor” [Romans 12]. Love is the competition no one loses.)
I’m not sure that the essence of repentance is being able to list of all your sins to the Lord.
Obviously, it is crucial to recognize our specific sins, confess, and repent.
But it seems to me that we also have to recognize before the Lord our sin of not being able to see all our sins.
We need to cast ourselves on his sheer mercy. Yes, confessing what we know, but also asking forgiveness and mercy — and then sanctification — for the sins we are not aware of.
(Which may be the most substantial arena of sin!)
Peter Drucker: “The greatest need in underdeveloped countries is people who build … an effective organization of skilled and trained people exercising judgment and making responsible decisions.”
It’s because voting is an intrinsic good, not merely an instrumental good.
In other words, even independent of your vote’s affect on the outcome of the election, voting is a good thing that matters in itself.
This is because when you vote, you are exercising your rights, and doing so for the good of the nation. Exercising your rights, when done for the good of others, is a reflection of the image of God and his plan for human government.
Therefore, voting is good in itself and there is much more going on here than simply determining the outcome of the election. In one sense, voting is an expression of what it means to be human — namely, the fact that we are all equal before God and the law and that God put us on earth not to be tyrannized over by government, but rather for government to be the servant of the people.
So, if you haven’t yet, go vote! And do so even if you think the outcome for your state is already set.
Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well governed?
Not even sure how to categorize that, but it has a thousand ramifications. Great insight.
- Opportunity recognition
- Resource acquisition
- Venture creation
- Organization expansion and growth
The most important reason is that letting your organization be a miserable place to work is just plain wrong. Employee satisfaction and engagement is an intrinsic good that everyone ought to care about — especially Christian ministries — because it is the right thing to do.
For those still not convinced (though if doing the right thing isn’t important to you, maybe you shouldn’t be in the workforce…), here’s a great combination of the ethical case and the business case in one paragraph (from the article I linked to yesterday, Entrepreneurs Must Save America):
People say that America will beat China because the U.S. is full of innovators and China isn’t. What do you think?
Clifton: For one thing, that’s not true. China can innovate. But they don’t have a culture that understands the power of engaged workers. Right now, they just out-low-cost-manufacture the world. But that won’t last forever. Their wages will keep going up, and jobs will go to other places — to Southeast Asia, to India, probably some to Africa, maybe some to parts of the Middle East.
But for now, it’s safe to say they’re winning the jobs war?
Clifton: Definitely. Yes, they’ve got the momentum right now.
Then why does it matter if China has engaged workers?
Clifton: Because engagement is a precondition for the state of mind that creates entrepreneurs. Miserable workgroups chase customers away. Miserable workforces don’t create any economic energy, so those companies are always cutting jobs. America will not come back and win the world unless we have the most spirited workforce. Spirited workforces create new customers. New customers create new jobs.
That’s the point of a helpful interview in the Gallup Management journal with Jim Clifton, author of the The Coming Jobs War. Here’s an excerpt:
The United States has no shortage of great ideas and innovations. What the country most needs right now are highly motivated entrepreneurs who can turn those ideas into great businesses — and thus create millions of new jobs.
China fills needs; Steve Jobs created needs. Nobody knew they needed an iPhone.
So says Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton in his book, The Coming Jobs War. Clifton is worried because America and much of the rest of the world are trying to boost innovation while entrepreneurs — living, breathing, job-creating engines — are neglected.
Clifton’s book draws from Gallup’s extensive analysis of U.S. and worldwide poll data, macroeconomic data on job creation, and trends in world economics. That analysis has uncovered astonishing and sometimes discomfiting facts. But a central finding of the book is that the will of the world has changed.
People used to desire love, money, food, shelter, safety, peace, and freedom more than anything else. Now, however, what everyone in the world wants is a good job. And as Clifton discusses below, by concentrating on innovators and neglecting entrepreneurs, we may be making it harder to create the jobs the world wants and needs.
An excellent point: innovation is critical, but not enough. More than innovation, we need entrepreneurs who create the businesses, non-profits, and ministries of tomorrow.
For entrepreneurs — which I think is most helpfully defined as those who start things – and those interested in improving their entrepreneurial skills, few resources are more helpful than Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything.
Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
“Buy truth” = you can know truth. It’s obtainable.
“Buy truth” = it’s worth getting. That is, it is valuable.
“Do not sell it” = states the same thing from another angle: it’s valuable. Hold on to it. It’s worth keeping.
(From Jon Rittenhouse, A Biblical View of Truth.)
The 3 things are:
- Personal management: how to get things done and know what the right things are to get done
- Career management
As a result, most of us need to learn these on our own, on the job. If you really try to figure them out and do them well, it’s a painful process — especially if most of the people you are working with are in the same boat (which, since these things aren’t taught well in school, is usually the case).
There are good seminars and courses and training workshops on each of these areas for those in the workforce, especially if you work at a large corporation. The leadership teaching that is out there is often pretty good, because it emphasizes that leadership is about building people up just as much as making things happen. But even that is less effective without a broad set of foundational knowledge already in place that you can relate it to. If you start learning about leadership, for example, at 28, when you are put in a leadership position in your organization, you are still 14 years behind where you could have been (or 20 years behind). This makes the journey that much harder. Same with learning how to manage your career and manage yourself, even if you encounter the need to learn these much earlier (toward the end of college or shortly after).
I’m not saying that there aren’t excellent leadership opportunities available in the educational system; there are. And, that does a lot of good. (So things aren’t nearly as bad as they could be!) But I’m talking about explicit teaching on what leadership is, how to do it, and so forth, in addition to actual leadership experiences.
This has large costs to us as a society, as so many people end up spinning their wheels trying to figure out what direction to go long-term with their career, trying to figure out how to manage themselves, and learning how to lead that they could have spent actually leading and, in terms of their career management, avoiding some wrong turns.
And it’s not just the education system that has dropped the ball here. Churches have too. Churches are mandated by God to be led well and to develop leaders (that’s the meaning of Isaiah 32:1-8, if you understand it correctly, among other passages). Because of the priesthood of all believers, this means teaching all believers how to lead well, not just those in ministry. Yet, strangely, much of the time the church opposes leadership development because of the notion that it is somehow worldly or unspiritual.
This is a long-term problem. Obviously I have lots of thoughts on how this could be fixed, but this is enough for now.
Actually, schools tend to teach almost nothing on how to do knowledge work — that is, on the actual process for high performance workflow management (as opposed to the specific skill sets for various jobs, such as creating financial statements, etc., etc., which is taught in abundance).
Here are three things that you especially never hear, but are true:
- You will have to spend more time than expected doing seemingly strange and mundane tasks like organizing your computer files (or trying to figure out how you want them organized!) and figuring out where to capture and store all the various ideas you have.
- If people make fun of you for this (like my pastor has!; good-naturedly), ignore them. These are essential components for knowledge work, and your actual ideas, plans, and work products are better if you can keep yourself organized.
- This is because, somehow, in the process of organizing your ideas and knowledge work inputs and outputs, real work gets done beyond just the organizing (though that is important in itself).
A Christian View of Working in Your Strengths (Especially in Relation to Thinking About Our Weaknesses)
People often ask me “if we are supposed to seek to work within our strengths most of the time, what about our weaknesses?” The question is about more than simply “how do we manage our weaknesses.” Rather, the question stems from the (very good) observation that God especially uses weakness in his kingdom. Does this change anything about the way we should go about our work? Should we, for example, conclude that we should not seek to focus on our strengths most of the time?
I have many thoughts on this, and actually have written a short book (unpublished, and not yet fully polished) on a Christian view of strengths where I also deal with this question in some detail. (That book was originally a very, very long chapter I originally wrote for What’s Best Next.) I hope to publish that book at some point, once What’s Best Next is taken care of.
But for now, here’s a chief part of the answer: There are plenty of weaknesses within your strengths themselves. You don’t need to worry about making yourself weaker than you already truly are.
And, if God has a special weakness he has ordained for your life to make you more fruitful as you have to rely on his power to live in light of it and overcome it, he’ll see to that, as he did with Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Further, what’s interesting from Paul’s experience is that he was actually quite diligent in asking the Lord to take away his weakness (see verse 8). That is the Christian response. It is not Christian to try to make ourselves weaker than we already are. That’s presumption, not Christianity. The Christian response to suffering is to first ask the Lord to take it away. But then in instances where he doesn’t, then the Christian response is to accept it and, indeed, glory in it, as Paul did, as a (forced!) invitation to rely on a greater strength — namely, the strength of Christ (vv. 9-10).
Let me just say one more thing. I would suggest that, perhaps, the notion that we ought to avoid focusing on our strengths is actually somewhat prideful. For it assumes that your strengths are stronger than they really are. You focus on your weaknesses when you are forced to. That’s what makes them weaknesses. A weakness that is “chosen” is not, typically, a true weakness.
Use your strengths. God has given them to you, and you in fact have an obligation to use them for the good of others — that’s what justice is: the strong using their strength on behalf of others (note also the biblical exhortations to do this in 2 Corinthians 8 – 10; also the command in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 as it applies to money and the Parable of the Talents). Please don’t worry about being “too strong.” You’re not. And when God does bring (even greater) weakness your way, first seek to remove it and ask him to remove it and, if he doesn’t, recognize it as an opportunity to rely on God in a different way, and rejoice in that.
I love and fully affirm the centrality of the biblical call to meet the full range of people’s needs, not just spiritual needs. When people are hungry, we need to feed them (Matthew 25:35). When they are mistreated, we need to stand up for them (Isaiah 1:17; Job 29:12-17). When they are sick, we need to visit them (Matthew 25:36). It is noteworthy that the false believers Christ rejects in Matthew 7:21-23 were apparently great at preaching (so-called), but neglected to meet people’s real, concrete needs as Christ instructs in Matthew 25:35-46.
We need to do better at this, and I think it is exciting to dream dreams of taking radical action for the good of others, and actually following through on those dreams. Further, we need to do this on a large scale, not just a small scale.
As we seek to correct our oversight as a church on the social action side of the last 90 years or so, it can be easy to emphasize the importance of social action in a way that downplays or minimizes the equal importance of evangelism. It is not uncommon to hear stories, for example, of short term missions teams going over to build houses for those in need, and yet never once mentioning the way of salvation through Christ. Further, we can feel that when we do make evangelism a chief aim, we almost need to apologize for it as though social action is what really “counts,” since it meets people’s concrete and directly felt needs.
This dichotomy is completely unnecessary. The reason is that the call to meet physical needs and the call to preach the gospel stem from the same motive and the same place in God’s heart.
Notice, for example, Matthew 9:13. Jesus chides the Pharisees here for not understanding the Scripture that “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). The Pharisees consistently put their strange and odd rules over the welfare of people, and this Scripture stands squarely against that. This Scripture teaches us that what God requires of us is not following made-up rules, or even rules that seem justified on the basis of “self-protection” or keeping ourselves from sin, but actually serving people and meeting their needs (cf. also the related instance in Matthew 12:1-8).
God’s statement that he desires mercy and not sacrifice is a great passage, in other words, on the importance of social action and meeting physical needs. This is especially clear from the tie with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where the Samaritan’s actions to meet the man’s physical needs are called “compassion” (Luke 10:33) and “mercy” (Luke 10:37). Jesus also often had compassion on the crowds, resulting in meeting their physical needs (Matthew 14:14; 9:35-36). To be a merciful person necessarily includes being on the lookout to meet physical needs.
But there is something even deeper in Matthew 9:13. When Jesus says “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” there, he gives it as the reason and foundation for why he is interacting with sinners. For he immediately adds: “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
At the heart of what Jesus is saying is this: True compassion involves not just taking action to meet people’s needs, but doing this even for the unworthy. “I desire mercy” does not simply mean “do good to those who do good to you.” Jesus is defining true compassion as having love for sinful, unworthy people at its very essence. What the Pharisees didn’t get is that when God calls us to have compassion on people, he doesn’t restrict it to apparently “worthy” people. Love that does not love the unworthy is actually not true love at all. That’s why the call to love one’s enemies is central, not an aside, to the biblical ethic of love (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:19-21). True compassion has compassion even on sinners, those who have failed, and even one’s enemies.
Which is, of course, all of us (something else the Pharisees didn’t get).
This is why Jesus came to earth. He came because he is a loving, compassionate God, which means not simply that he does good for those who do good, but that he also seeks to rescue those who have done evil. That’s the true meaning of love. That’s Jesus’ point here. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came to call not the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).
This is also the meaning of John 3:16. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” That is, God’s love is the kind of love that gives utterly sacrificially even for the welfare of sinners–those who, as John puts it here, are in danger of perishing.
Seeking the welfare of unworthy — demonstrated in action — is part of the very definition of God’s love.
This is why social action is not enough. Love for others will and must manifest itself in meeting people’s concrete, tangible needs for food, shelter, companionship, and purpose in life. But beyond all of these things, we have a more fundamental, even deeper need: we are estranged from God because of our sin. True compassion does not stop at meeting people’s physical and social needs, therefore. It goes all the way and seeks to meet their spiritual need for reconciliation with God as well.
That’s how Jesus ultimately describes for us the meaning of “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” He demonstrates the meaning of that verse ultimately in his own ministry, coming into the world not simply to meet physical needs but also proclaim the gospel and thereby rescue us from our ultimate misery. “For I came … to call … sinners” (Matthew 9:13).
The same love that compels us to meet people’s concrete, physical needs also compels us to truly care for the full range of their needs — including their spiritual need to receive the forgiveness of sins and come to know God.
Romans 5:1 in many translations, including the ESV, reads: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There is a variant reading with this passage, however, and some manuscripts say instead “since we have been justified by faith, let us have peace with God.” In the first reading, peace with God is an absolute reality following from justification. In the second, it sounds as though, even though we are justified, we may have times where we are not “at peace” (or, complete peace) with God, and thus need to seek a state of complete peace with God, and our justification enables this.
Many people say both are true. While we do have peace with God because of justification, it seems as though we can disrupt our fellowship with God through sin. Not our acceptance (and thus ultimate peace) with God, but our fellowship and experience of that peace. While I think that distinction needs to be refined somewhat, there is probably something to it.
But what did Paul have in mind here? Did he have that distinction in mind, or was he making an unqualified statement about the perfect, unfailing, and infallible and unchanging rock-bottom peace and acceptance we have with God because of our justification, which continues even if our fellowship is disrupted through sin?
I think he was making the unqualified statement, because Romans 5:1 is a clear echo of Romans 8:1, which is unqualified. Romans 5:1 states it positively: “We have peace with God.” Romans 8:1 states the flip side: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 5:1 and Romans 8:1 are restatements of one another. Each tells us the same truth, from different sides of the coin. To have peace with God (Romans 5:1) means, conversely, having no condemnation before him (Romans 8:1). Likewise, if we have no condemnation before him (Romans 8:1), then we are at utter and complete peace with him (Romans 5:1).
There is no textual variant with Romans 8:1 — it unquestionably states that we now have no condemnation. Hence, it is most likely the case that the parallel statement in Romans 5:1 is stating the same thing — that we now have peace with God, having been justified by faith.
Why does this matter? First, because it is important in itself to know what the correct reading of any text is. Beyond this, however, it gives power in the fight against sin and provides a foundation for true humility. For no matter how diligent you are to confess your sins and turn against them (as you ought to be diligent to do!), it is always the case that our sin is greater than we realize at any point in time.
The radical affirmation of Romans 5:1 (and Romans 8:1) is that our full and complete acceptance with God comes fully through faith, and not on our ability to fully see the depth of our sin in all respects which, this side of glory, is probably not fully possible. Thus, a correct understanding of Romans 5:1 keeps us from the pride of thinking that even our experience of fellowship with God is ultimately due to our own diligence in and ability to see the full depth of our sins.
In other words, it means that even the experience of fellowship with God is available to imperfect people. This is truly stunning, if you think about it.
How do you help those in need? Our default tendency seems to be to give advice. To give advice that is actually good is, of course, a good thing (although rare!). But the biblical call is for us to do much more than that. Consider:
“Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17).
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
The way we typically act, it’s as though we take those passages to say “give advice to the weak and the fatherless; tell the afflicted that we live in a sinful world where injustice is rampant and they need to learn how to live with that; give kind words to the weak and the needy; tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
That is emphatically not what the Scripture says. Yet, we often live as if it is.
Words can be helpful. But, when you see those in need, those who have been denied justice, mistreated, fallen on hard times, or other such things, the biblical call is not to give advice and stop there. It is to listen to what the wrongs are, and then actually do something about them. “Correct oppression.” “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed” (Psalm 82:3-4, NIV).
Just people don’t just disagree with injustice. They do something about it.
I don’t think he would have (or did) because, knowing all things and being completely filled with the Spirit, he would not need any external reminders. It is literally impossible (both now, and when he was on earth) for Jesus to forget any obligation that he has. (And he does have obligations — that is, things he needs to get done — but they are only the arrangements he freely enters into, which are founded in the promises he has made in the Scriptures.)
But, I’ve never thought that “what would Jesus do” is necessarily the best question. It is a helpful question. But since we are not Jesus (for example, we are not omniscient), the more precise question is “what would Jesus have me do?”
And I think he would say this about to-do lists: “If you can keep all your commitments and get done what you are called to do without writing anything down, no problem. But if you have more to do than your memory is able to hold, one of the other reasons I’ve given you a mind is so that you can figure out a better way to keep track of everything than just keeping it in your head. So go, do what you need to do to remember what you need to remember in order to get done what you need to get done.”
Something like that.
I just read a quote from someone who said that Christian values should become a vital element in the overall moral and cultural discourse of the nation. I think that’s probably true, but what are Christian values?
Most of the time when we think of “Christian” values, frankly, our thinking is pretty lame. We limit ourselves to the avoidance ethic — what we don’t want to see people doing. Christian values have become reduced simply to safety, security, movies that don’t swear too much, and “good family time.”
I’m all about good family time. But the Christian ethic is not simply about avoiding evil, but proactively doing good. And being radical and energetic in it. The question is not what can I spare to serve others and reach the world, but what will it take?
How about if we model for the world a more complete picture of Christian values, which would include things like this:
- Radical generosity. Just like Jesus, who did not merely tithe but gave everything he had (2 Corinthians 8:9).
- Love. Ditching the self-protective mindset and putting others before ourselves, making their good our aim in all things.
- Risk. Making the good of others a higher priority than our own safety, security, and comfort, and taking risks to bring benefit to them.
- Creativity. Christians are to be creative! And to be a boring Christian is a sin (that’s an implication of the term “salt” in Colossians 4:6).
- Excellence. Slack work is a form of vandalism (Proverbs 18:9). Christians are not to be clock-watchers in their work, but to do things well and with competence.
- Initiative. Taking ownership for making things better, rather than sitting around watching and complaining.
- Leadership. Instead of criticizing, leading and setting a good example.
- Humble authenticity.
- Global and multi-ethnic vision.
- Ambition. Not for our own comfort, but for the good of others.
These are all Christian values. But would the world know to name even one of these as Christian? We have a lot of work to do.
I’m giving away a free ESV Study Bible (this one).
If it would serve you, or there is someone you would like to give it to, send me your name and address through the contact form on this site. I’ll send it to the first person who responds. (I won’t do anything with the other addresses but delete them — I’m just having you include your address to cut out a step.)
I won’t be able to respond to everyone to say whether you were the first person or not. So, if you don’t hear from me today, that means it wasn’t you. To the person who is first, I’ll shoot you a note and let you know it’s on its way.
Update: We have a winner!
If God Can Protect Those Who Go To Hard Places as Missionaries, He Can Protect Those Who Go in to Culture-Shaping Vocations As Well
This is a great point I just came across in some of my notes, from I think the book Fearless Faith:
I’ve always wondered why we could be so quick to sacrifice our children to become missionaries but stand in the way of their becoming broadcast journalists, film and television actors, photographers, and painters. It’s almost as if we believe God is strong enough to take care of his own only as long as they stay within the safety of the Christian ghetto.
I’m all about missions and taking the gospel to unreached people groups. I think that, in addition to this, we also need to realize that the gospel also spreads through the vocations of all Christians, wherever they are (as long as we understand the proper relationship between faith and work — which most don’t!) — and that more Christians are needed in culture-shaping vocations.
In other words, the recovery of a robust doctrine of vocation is just as essential to the completion of the Great Commission as embracing the challenge of going to hard places to bring the gospel to those who have never heard.
(And, beyond that, as people come to faith through the vocations of every Christian, there will be more who in turn go to the unreached.)
“We cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration.”
“Shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude.”
These are my notes from Bill Hybel’s closing message at the Summit.
Everyone wins when a leader gets better.
My vision for the Summit has always been that we leaders realize we all need, at the very least, an annual heart-check and gut-check and time of refreshment and encouragement and refining our leadership skills. That we treat doing this as a non-negotiable, essential part of our practice.
At the end of the day, we want to be able to stand before God and say “I did my absolute best with the leadership gifts you’ve given me.”
Could you imagine the impact of several hundred thousand leaders gathering annually for a recalibration? This is within our grasp and I hope you’ll join this great vision.
Matthew 16:18. Who is ultimately building the church? Will he allow it to be defeated?
I believe the local church is the hope of the world. But the first 18 years of my life, the one word I would have used to describe the church was “hopeless.” I thought that at the very best I would be minimally engaged with the church for the rest of my life. The church we attended when I was growing up was one I practically wanted to protect people from coming to so it wouldn’t do more harm to the reputation of Christ.
But in the next stage of my life, my perspective changed on the local church from “hopeless” to “hopeful.” I learned in one of my seminary classes about how God moved in the early church, and the professor would say things like “why can’t someone in this room chuck their life plan and give their life to building the local church like this?”
Vision is the picture of a future that creates passion in people. It propels people forward who would normally be comfortable with the status quo. It puts a bounce in your step when you’d normally be dragging your feet.
I was seized by a vision of what the church could be. Of the church’s vision and power and potential. I determined I would seek to play some role in this. I moved to Chicago to help a friend build a youth group, and without realizing it I had signed on to the ride of a lifetime. [Tells great story of how he was called to ministry and Willow Creek started.]
I then moved from “hopeful” on the local church finally to “the local church is the hope of the world.”
The hope of the world is not government, academia, business, but the church because it is to the church that God has entrusted the message of salvation, which truly changes people’s lives and hearts.
And I realized this meant we need to enable everyone in the church to make the maximum contribution they can, and we need to get leaders to lead, and we need to teach everyone to serve and to give generously, and invite young people to be a part of things as soon as they can. And then it occurred to me that we need to see every church reach its full redemptive potential. And I’m really eager to see that day.
What gives us confidence that the church will endure to the end of history? Many empires and massive companies that seemed durable have evaporated. Why will it be different for the church? Because Jesus is building the church.
Jesus is not directing the angelic choir, taking long naps, or doing crossword puzzles. He is completely focused on building his church, the hope of the world.
One of the greatest privileges in all of life is when Jesus taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hey Brian (or Fred or Melinda or etc.), I have a critical role for you as I am building my church in this world. And I’ve been preparing you your whole life for it.” How do you say no to that? How do you blow that off? How do you say “I’ve got my own thing going on, and I want to build my retirement and golf game instead.” Don’t be that guy. You’ll regret it forever. Don’t say “no thanks, I’m building my thing.”
In my view, the morning prayer of every sincere Christ-follower on earth should be “Lord, today I freshly commit myself to your work today as you build your church in the world. I commit all of myself to the role you’ve assigned to me in the building of your church.” Have you ever prayed that prayer? How about praying that prayer every day for the next 30 days? Could you imagine if the 2 billion people in this world who claim to be Christ-followers prayed that every day and sought to do it? Or the 160,000 leaders who are part of the Summit this year did that? My mind can barely grasp what would happen in the church and in the world if we were to do this.
Will you say to the Lord, “Yes, I will join you fully in your work of building your church”?