1.) Where are you going?
2.) How are you going to get there?
3.) How will you know when you’re there?
A couple of years ago I received a newsletter from Len Sykes. Len is a godly man who mentors, teaches, disciples, coaches, and leads men up in the Atlanta area. He’s also an associate of Ken Boa, the man who mentored me while I was in seminary. (While I’m thinking of it, you can learn more about Len or sign up for his newsletter by clicking here.)
In this particular newsletter, Len shared a little about his ministry. I’m always encouraged when he shares what he’s doing and what God is doing through him because it reminds me so much of my own ministry… and there’s so much I can learn from what Len shares.
Len talked a little about his passion, mission, and vision for his ministry. He commented that these are the three main areas he encourages his men to focus on. The three questions I listed at the top of this post are my version of what Len is talking about. These are important questions to ask because, as the old saying goes, ”If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there.” There are a lot of men who have no idea where they’re going… and they’re making great time getting there.
These issues of passion, mission, and vision are very important. Most men want to live for something bigger than themselves. Part of their frustration is that they either don’t know what that something is… or they have an idea, but aren't quite sure how to pursue it.
This is the “why” question. What drives you? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Len says that passion is “the emotional/inspirational element of our desire. It’s that which energizes us.
What’s your passion? For yourself as a man of God? For your family? For you work-setting? For your church? For your personal ministry? For your community? What’s that something that’s bigger than you that you want to live your life pursuing in each of these areas?
Len next points out that mission “relates to how we carry out our desires to serve the Lord and his people.” In other words, how are you going to fulfill your passion? How are you going to get there? What’s your plan?
This last component “relates to what the end result” of your passion and mission will look like. In other words, how will you know you’ve fulfilled your mission (or that you’re making progress in the right direction)? Lots of aimless activity is not the same thing as moving toward your goal. Having a vision of what it will look like will help you focus and persevere as you move toward your goal…your dream of that something bigger than yourself.
My prayer is that each of you will not only have, but will also spend your life pursuing, a passion, mission, and vision for who you are as a man of God – for your own spiritual growth, for yourselves as husbands, fathers, employees/employers, churchmen, neighbors, for every sphere of your lives. To be sure, this is a huge undertaking... but can you imagine anything more worthy of your time and energy?
My family’s life-verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” From the extremely important to the utterly mundane, all of life is to be lived for God’s glory. This is the idea behind the phrase, “living life on purpose” or “living intentionally.”
How Can I Help You?
Having a passion, a mission, and a vision will help you glorify God in all the spheres of your life. If I can help you discover, develop, and pursue your “something bigger than yourself,” please do not hesitate to let me know. It would be a joy, an honor, and a blessing to travel along side you as you seek and follow God’s call in your life.
He made a difference in his culture for the Kingdom of God...
It’s probably easier to ask what Abraham Kuyper did not do rather than what he did do.
Committed Christian. Cultural warrior. Founder of a political party. Prime minister and statesman. Newspaper founder and editor. Founder and president of a university and professor. Pastor. Writer. He did all that and more.
I believe with many that Abraham Kuyper is one of the most important role models for Christians today who want to make an impact in their world. He is someone you ought to get to know. Here are a few resources to help better acquaint you with him…
Grace and Truth,
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A prayer by George Lyman Locke
The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 48
123. Question: What is the second petition?
Answer: Thy kingdom come. That is: So rule us by Thy Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to Thee. Preserve and increase Thy church. Destroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against Thee, and every conspiracy against Thy holy Word. Do all this until the fullness of Thy kingdom comes, wherein Thou shalt be all in all.
 Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33.  Ps. 51:18; 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47.  Rom. 16:20; I John 3:8.  Rom. 8:22, 23; I Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22: 17, 20.
Steve Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Mike Yorkey have done a great job helping men pursue godliness. Their book, Every Man, God’s Man is, as the title page says, “every man’s guide to courageous faith and daily integrity.” The men’s discipleship ministry at our church has used several of the study guides taken from this book and gotten a great deal of mileage out of them. I highly recommend them.
Here are a few of the key ideas from the Introduction and first chapter of the book…
Underneath all of your horrible habits or terrible treatment of others, you will find muscles of character. That character has been covered up by things of this world.
Author Dallas Willard got it right: What’s needed is a renovation of the heart before a renovation of lifestyle.
If you reach a man, then you reach every relationship he has.
…far too many men do not give themselves fully to being God’s man.
I want to make a quick comment about the quote from Dallas Willard because I think he’s exactly right. Too often churches want to give men stuff to do and, as Pat Morley puts it, make workers instead of disciples. Now, of course, there’s nothing wrong with men serving in their local church and community. Indeed, we’re called to do so. However, if we fail to heed Jesus’ words in John 15 about his words abiding in us and us abiding in him, we will create withering branches that cease to do anyone any good because there's no life-giving nutrients running through them.
Let’s encourage men to first build and strengthen their relationship with God and God’s people and then let the Spirit call and lead each man according to the gifts and graces given him. After all, we want men who will bear much good and lasting fruit… not men who wither on the vine.
Grace and Truth,
This post is sort of a "part 2" to the post below on success.
Question: What is mediocrity? What examples of it have you witnessed recently? How do you prevent mediocrity from attacking you, your family, or your business?
Answer: I would say my definition of “mediocrity” is, not pursuing my God-given calling. Examples of mediocrity in my life would include: Not seeking to grow in my faith. Not learning about myself. Not learning how to develop myself so I can increasingly become who God made and called me to be. Not taking responsibility for my life. Not seeking to bear much, good, and lasting fruit for Christ and his Kingdom. General laziness and, sometimes, apathy. I guess with these examples I'm trying to point toward the direction of my life as opposed to results. While we participate in the process, results are ultimately up to God.
Some folks may be given five talents, some two, and some one. What counts is not how much you’re given, but what you do with what you’re given. Are you faithful with what you’ve been given, or do you tend to bury your talents in the ground? No effort – no risk – no trust in God. That describes too many of us. That has described me all too often.
I think we slow the influence mediocrity in our lives by obeying God, trusting him, staying close with him, continually seeking to be filled with his Spirit, staying in God’s Word, praying, praying, and praying some more, pursuing lifelong personal development and learning, etc. AND... traveling along this path with others is key.
The sanctifying process is more than learning how not to sin. While it obviously includes that, it also incorporates the positive act and attitude of conforming more and more to the likeness of Christ and renovating our lives under his Lordship so that we can grow toward our God-given potential…for his glory. Putting off sin and putting on righteousness. Dying to self and rising with Christ. We must continuously move forward, becoming progressively sanctified (i.e., becoming more like Christ, who perfectly fulfilled his calling). In all of this, God's grace is required. (I'm not endorsing a "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" mentality.)
I have experienced mediocrity in my own life. Every time I have daydreamed or surfed the net too long, watched too much TV, slept in too late, etc., I have embraced mediocrity.* But I think I’ve come to understand that I move toward overcoming mediocrity in my life only as I make the most of the time God has given me.
Very practically speaking, that means having a God-glorifying plan, (related to the various spheres of my life), and then faithfully, strategically, and consistently working that plan. There's certainly more to say about this, but this is a start.
By the way, I just started reading a great book by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, entitled, Living Forward, which addresses these very ideas. Best of all, they provide a great road map (or action plan) for how to "live forward."
* Just a note to say I have not defined how much "too long, too much, or too late" is, regarding the things mentioned in this sentence. That's going to look different for each of us. I know the difference between "taking a break" versus "being lazy" in my life. You'll have to figure out the difference between the two in yours.
Just a quick thought for today.
Grace and Truth,