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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card authors are:
Steve Stroope with Kurt Bruner
Foreword by Rick Warren
Foreword by Rick Warren
and the book:
B&H Books (January 15, 2012)
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Steve Stroope is lead pastor of the multi-campus Lake Pointe Church near Dallas, Texas. Under his leadership, the congregation has grown from 57 members in 1980 to a current attendance of more than 11,000. He is also a sought-after speaker and church consultant and the co-author of Money Matters in the Church and It Starts at Home. Steve and his wife have two grown daughters and several grandchildren.
Kurt Bruner is pastor of Spiritual Formation at Lake Pointe Church and president of HomePointe Inc., a network of church leaders creating a culture of strong family tribes. A former vice president with Focus on the Family, Kurt is the best-selling author of more than a dozen books. He and his wife have four children.
Visit the authors' website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
God’s biggest assignments have always been entrusted to those leading a small tribe. From the twelve families of Israel to early Christians who met in one another’s homes, great leaders begin by serving a core group of people who ripple outward for ever-extending social and spiritual impact. They go big by leading small.
Today, leaders don’t fail because they lack vision. They fail because they neglect their tribe. It could be a father losing sight of his family, a lead pastor failing to leverage the strengths of his staff, or a small group coordinator ignoring a tiny but important process.
Tribal Church helps pastors recognize the potential and power of various tribes within their congregations—one family, a network of small groups, maybe an entire age group—and then recalibrate ministry efforts to maximize the impact of each. Steve Stroope has spent three decades mastering the art of leading small in a church that has multiplied from dozens to over ten thousand. He explains why big impact does not come from any sort of mega-church ambition. It rather comes by attending to the little details and the smallest tribes.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (January 15, 2012)
On Father’s Day, in 1979, seven families gathered just outside of Dallas on the western shore of Lake Ray Hubbard. Although this small fellowship began meeting in a former bait house, they believed God would do mighty things in and through their ministry, which would come to be known as Lake Pointe Church.
Six months later, when I came as their first pastor, they had grown to an average weekly attendance of almost sixty people, if you counted children in the nursery and a small mouse that lived in the upright piano. Thankfully, the mouse only made one appearance, scampering across the keys during the playing of a worship song. To her credit, Joy Brown, our reluctant pianist, never missed a note of the hymn. She had practiced all week long and was not about to let the uninvited accompanist deter her from her task.
By God’s grace, Lake Pointe Church has experienced significant growth since those early days. Today, on an average weekend, four worship bands, one small orchestra, and three lone pianists, accompany close to 10,000 people, worshipping in sixteen services in two languages on six different campuses. In addition, over the last ten years Lake Pointe has played a key role in starting a significant church in Las Vegas, Portland, Tampa, Boca Raton, Boston, Fort Smith, Fort Worth, two churches in New York City, and three churches in San Francisco. Last year, the people of Lake Pointe gave close to $3.2 million to mission causes all around the world.
The point is not to aspire to be a large church in order to have a big impact. It is rather about being faithful to occupy your present opportunity. It is about yielding your current loaves and fish to His plan. It might be hard to believe, but Lake Pointe did not become what some consider a large church with a worldwide impact by striving to grow big. I believe it is rather ironic that at no time in our thirty-one-year history has Lake Pointe ever set a numerical goal for attendance. Lake Pointe’s health and growth, to a large extent, is a result of passionately attending to what some would consider the little details and to the smaller “tribes” that make up our church. In short, Lake Pointe is a tribal church that focuses on leading small to have a big impact for His kingdom. The truth is that we have never considered ourselves to be a large church but rather a beautiful mosaic or collection of small tribes.
Tribal Church: Lead Small, Impact Big
Jesus tells the story of a man who went on a journey and left to three servants three different amounts of resources (Matt. 25:14–30). He entrusted five measures of resources to one servant, he gave two measures to another, and to a final servant he left one measure. They were given time and an opportunity to invest and multiply those resources on behalf of their master. The one with five and the one with two measures both doubled what they had been given. The one with only one measure—by his own admission—squandered the opportunity because of fear. While the fearful servant had his allotment taken away, the master allowed the first two servants to keep their original allotments plus what they had gained. The master celebrated their entrepreneurial efforts and encouraged them to continue their faithful work, saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matt. 25:23 nlt).
God has entrusted every Christian leader with a measure of resources. Some have been given a stewardship that includes thousands of people and millions of dollars, while others’ opportunities are measured by the hundreds of people and thousands of dollars. In God’s economy, a church’s success is not measured by size but rather by their faithfulness. This is the very principle upon which Tribal Church is based. In other words: If we ever hope to impact big, we must first learn to occupy the present opportunity God has given, whether large or small.
Whether our membership was in the hundreds or the thousands, we have always seen ourselves as a collection of small tribes seeking to make a big impact on the communities in which we gather. That’s why this book is for leaders of small churches, mid-size churches, and massive churches, because every church is made up of tribes. Every church is a tribal church. The question is whether the leaders of the church know they lead a church of tribes and whether they are effectively leading these tribes.
Outline of Book
Since every church, regardless of size, is a tribal church, church leaders must know whom those tribes are and how to relate to them. The book begins by focusing on the foundation of tribal leadership: the leader and his or her family. Next, we look at the key tribes that make up the church: family tribes, small group tribes, leadership tribes, generation tribes, elder tribes, and the tribe that consists of new members. After this, we offer one model for starting new tribes, like new campuses and new church plants. Finally, we conclude with a discussion on effectively reaching out to those who have not yet joined one of your church’s tribes.
The tribal dynamics at play in every church are often subtle, but they are not insignificant. Understanding and responding to this dynamic continues to transform Lake Pointe Church, and I pray it will enrich your church as well.
Throughout the Bible, we find a pattern where God impacts a key leader before he uses that leader to accomplish greater things with the group he leads. When that one leader becomes aligned with God’s vision for His people and confronts those issues that are constraining his leadership potential, positive changes begin to materialize for his tribes.
Before Moses was able to lead a nation of three million made up of the twelve tribes of Israel, he had to have a powerful encounter with the living God. The burning bush had to come before the exodus. Thus, the first step of Israel’s forty-year journey from slavery to the Promised Land began with the work that God first did in one man, Moses.
Year after year, the Midianites were terrorizing the tribes of Israel until God changed Gideon. In the beginning, Gideon did not see himself as a leader. He protested that he was the least of his family, that his family was the least in his tribe, and his tribe the least in all of Israel. It was only after God was able to change Gideon’s low view of God and himself that He finally convinced Gideon that he was part of the answer to his own prayer of deliverance. Once God worked in the life of Gideon, the children of Israel were able to overcome their nemesis.
Esther, at another time in the history of Israel, was challenged by her uncle to go before her husband, the king, and speak on behalf of the tribes of Israel. Her uncle, Mordicai, helped her see that the sovereign God had used everything that had happened up to that time in her life to put her in a unique position of influence—at just the right season—to provide deliverance for her people. Once Esther caught God’s vision for her life, the tribes of Israel realized theirs.
Most great movements and major victories began with a stirring in just one heart and small victories in just one life. That is why self-leadership is so important. Leaders will never reach their full potential to impact the tribes around them until they learn to allow God to lead in the small areas of their own lives. This is why the first area of focus for a tribal church leader is on himself and his self-leadership.
The Ten Commitments
Much of what I have learned about self-leadership, I began learning in earnest many years ago when I participated in a mentoring experience led by Bob Shank called “The Master’s Program.”1 I was a part of a group that met for three years, four times a year, for a one-day intensive. In these meetings, Bob focused our attention on the need for consistent growth in ten critical areas of life.
- Spiritual fitness
- Intellectual fitness
- Relational fitness2
- Physical fitness
- Parenting (if applicable)
- Marriage (if applicable)
- Personal finances
- Career success
- Discipleship of others
- Personal evangelism
We were challenged over the three-year journey to assess our current reality in light of God’s Word and to make specific, incremental changes, or create holy habits, that would move us toward Christ’s ideal.
Many times we overestimate what we can change in a short period of time and underestimate what we could accomplish applying right habits over the long haul. In looking at the ten realms of self-leadership listed earlier, the key question becomes: To what single area might you give special attention in the next three-to-four months and what specific holy habit might you adopt that would make personal growth more likely?
We all have flaws that need to be addressed, areas in which we need to give God full reign to grow us. David wrote in Psalm 139:23–24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; and lead me in the everlasting way.” David’s prayer should be our prayer.
What does spiritual fitness look like? In John 15:8, Jesus said it is the Father’s desire that we produce much fruit” and so prove to be His disciples. The word “fruit” in the Bible is used in a couple of ways. First, “fruit” is used to describe the very character of Christ. See the “fruit of the spirit” in Galatians 5:23–24, where nine colors of character paint a portrait of Jesus. Fruit bearing is the result of an ongoing, organic process. The nine attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the true marks of Christian maturity. Luke 6:43–44 states, “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit.” So any good fruit produced in a true believer’s life comes as a result of a changed nature.
The second way in which “fruit” is used is to describe both physical and spiritual reproduction (see Gen. 9:1, Rom. 1:13, and 1 Cor. 16:15). A believer is fruitful not simply when Christ’s character is visible, but also when Christ’s mission is accomplished. Spiritual fitness is thus about being formed into the “likeness of Christ.” Then, as we live in such a way that Christ is incarnated in our daily lives, “He is lifted up,” and others are drawn into a relationship with Him.
So, two simple questions get to the heart of spiritual fitness:
- Am I more like the person of Jesus today than I was one year ago?
- As a result of the answer to question No. 1, are those in my sphere of influence coming to know Christ as Lord and Savior?
Those brave enough to do so might ask themselves “How would those closest to me answer these questions about me?”
Leaders are learners. They are always seeking to grow, to sharpen their skills, and to expand their knowledge. Sometimes this takes the form of the continuation of a formal education. However, more often than not, it is about gaining knowledge through exposure to key people, other ministries, and reading.
I have heard Bill Hybels say many times, when asked about his advice to leaders who want to get better at leading: “Lead something, anything, get around people who are better leaders than you are and read books on leadership.” As a result of the Master’s Program, I made a commitment to read at least forty books a year on a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to, theology, marriage and family, leadership, and history. This commitment has yielded a rich reservoir from which I can draw in leading the multiple tribes for which I am responsible.
Learning leaders, when around other leaders, do more listening than talking, always asking strategic questions. The answers to these questions help them do a better job of leading their own tribes.
All church tribe leaders need close Christian friends. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” In Ecclesiastes 4:9, the writer reminds us, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.”
For some reason this seems to be, as a rule, a greater deficiency in male leaders than in female leaders. Perhaps this is because our culture, at least in America, highly regards independence and self-reliance. Perhaps what keeps us from this healthy interdependence is our pride or a desire for secrecy to hide our besetting sins.
The truth is that we all have blind spots, which, if left unaddressed, will, at best, limit our effectiveness as leaders and, at worst, potentially shipwreck our lives and cause us to become disqualified. As Christian leaders, we are always talking to others about the importance of community and accountability. Do we believe in the biblical concepts enough to model them in our own lives? Two questions:
- Are you currently in a small group of believers where you are not the leader or supervising the other participants?
- Are there one or two (same-gender) individuals with whom you meet on a regular basis, who know your strengths, weaknesses, besetting sins, and tendencies, and who currently have permission to ask you the tough questions, and if necessary, be rude to you for Christ’s sake?
This one is harder to fake. I can pretend to be spiritually, intellectually and relationally fit, but when I step on the scales, the numbers do not lie. Yes, this body—this temporary tent—is going to be put in the ground one day and return to dust. But until that glorious day, it is the vehicle in which we dwell as we lead our tribe. If we do not get adequate exercise, eat the right fuel, and get enough sleep, we handicap our effectiveness as leaders in at least two ways.
First, we limit the amount of energy available for the energy-demanding role of a tribal leader. For more on this, I recommend The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.3 The authors argue that managing energy—not time—is the key to high performance and personal renewal.
Second, when it becomes obvious to others that we are being poor stewards of our bodies, this hurts our credibility with those in the tribes we lead.
According to the apostle Paul, one prerequisite for leadership in the church is effective leadership in one’s own home tribe. He writes, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:5).
It is sad that in an effort to win the world, we can lose our own family in the process. Years ago when Lake Pointe was a very young church, I fell into a dangerous pattern of “driven-ness” in order to reach our community for Christ. As a result, my schedule evolved to the point that I was home only one night a week.
One Sunday I was having a hallway discussion with the wife of a prominent minister who was our guest speaker for the day. When I asked about their children, she informed me that their children did not have a close relationship with their dad because he had neglected them in their formative years in order to build a “great church.” On one hand, this was way too much information; on the other, it was just what I needed to hear.
That day was a defining moment for my family and me. I decided to reverse my daily calendar and seek to be gone from home no more than one night a week. I accepted the fact that the growth of our church would, by necessity, be curtailed. I think it is rather ironic that when you look back statistically over the years, it was during the following year that our church began to grow numerically at a more substantial pace than ever before. As I chose to make my family relationships the priority, God blessed our fellowship in a way that no amount of effort on my part could have created.
Leaders must give priority to their priority relationships. If you are married, your relationship with your spouse is the highest in the human hierarchy. The title of John O’Neil’s book, The Paradox of Success: When Winning at Work Means Losing at Life,4 is an apt, yet unfortunate, description of some leaders’ home lives. It can happen before we fully know it. The rewards of achieving at the office can be more immediate and tangible than those at home. The intimacy that marriage creates engenders conflict. Conflict is a part of God’s design so that we can choose to love and give away our selfishness to become more other-centered. However, because we are creatures who crave comfort, there is always the temptation to avoid such character-testing intimacy.
We enter marriage with many self-centered expectations. These expectations are then hammered with the daily realities of seemingly incongruent personalities, differing childhood models of family, idiosyncrasies, annoying habits, and the downright sinfulness of the two individuals joined together, all of which are intensified by sharing a checkbook, bathroom, and bed. The gap between our expectations and our reality is what I call the “disappointment gap.” You can replace the word “disappointment” with “anger,” “frustration,” “depression,” or the emotion of your choice. Many times we expect our spouse to meet needs in our lives that only God can meet. As Christians, we have the promise that God is going to meet all of our needs according to the riches of Christ Jesus. There is no question that He intends to meet some of those needs through our spouse. God, however, is not frustrated by their lack of cooperation.
When we depend solely on our spouses, we are in effect giving them God’s job description. A husband or wife, when given the opportunity, can make a pretty good partner. But a spouse makes a terrible god.
Part of the solution is to lower our expectation of the other person and what any human relationship can really provide. The other part is to do the necessary work to raise reality by resolving conflicts, communicating needs, and exercising forgiveness.
Given the effort required to navigate the minefield of marriage, it is easy to see why one might be tempted to spend greater amounts of energy and time in a realm where one is the center of attention and has the authority to fire some, if not all, of the individuals who might have a different point of view.
I married much too young (age nineteen) with way too little knowledge about both the rigors of marriage and the differences between men and women. My wife, Marsha, describes the first three years of her marriage to a strong-willed, verbally gifted communicator—who used those skills to almost always get his way—as a type of “hell.” In the thirty-eight years of our marriage, that is the closest I’ve ever heard her come to uttering anything close to profanity.
So, “Houston, we had a problem.” Neither of our theologies permitted an easy way out so we were stuck with each other. Knowing divorce was not an option, we set out to make our relationship work. We read every book on marriage we could get our hands on, sought the counsel of and learned from couples we knew and respected. We both had to learn the uncomfortable but essential skill of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15, 25, 29).
Marsha, because of her personality, has had to work on the “speak truth” and “don’t let the sun set on your anger” parts. I have had to work on the “love” and “let no unwholesome word depart from your mouth” parts.
While our marriage is still very much a work in progress, after three decades of weekly date nights, mini personal marriage retreats, dreaming together and planning our shared future, and learning how to let go of the past, we have found that the love of Christ has empowered us to become best friends and a team in ministry. (I share more extensively on this topic in my book It Starts at Home.5)
My earliest memories of childhood are of spending Saturday mornings lying with my brothers on the top of the kitchen table in our trailer house, watching cartoons on the black-and-white television that sat on top of the refrigerator. Other kids had color television sets and comfortable living room recliners. Our family made do with much less. But I had a rich childhood in many other ways, including the instruction I received about money at an early age. I remember when I mowed my first lawn for money. I mowed, edged, raked, and swept the front and back yard for $10 (The price paid should give you an idea of my age). When I arrived home that day, my dad asked me if I knew what I was going to do with my hard earned cash. I replied that I had a pretty good idea.
Dad then informed me that he was going to take the $10 and exchange it for one five-dollar bill and five one-dollar bills. He then proceeded to instruct me that I was to take the first dollar with me to church the next Sunday and place it in the offering plate. This would be a way to acknowledge, “that God had given me the ability to earn that money.” The second dollar, he said, was headed to the Trinity Savings and Loan down on Buckner Boulevard, where I was going to open my first savings account. He said, “One of these days you are going to want to own a car. If so, you will need to pay for half of it. And one day you may want to go to college. If so, you will pay for half of that also. So you had better start saving for both.”
Thus, I began to live on the 10/10/80 plan. Over the years, I found you can give God at least 10 percent of your income and save at least 10 percent of the money you earn and somehow survive on 80 percent or less. On the other hand, I have learned after many years of counseling others that the 0/0/110 plan does not work. No matter how you figure it, paying someone else interest to use their money in order to buy something today—which you could wait and save to purchase—is a form of immaturity as well as stupidity. I learned that financial mismanagement is not as much a math problem as it is a “willingness to work” problem, or an “I want more than I can afford” problem.
Many of us struggle with how much material stuff is enough. It is not enough to just avoid debt by working hard, paying cash, and avoiding interest by paying off the credit card each month. We must ask the tough questions like, “What does sacrificial giving really look like for an American who has entirely too many clothes and who lives in a house that would be considered a mansion almost anywhere else in the world?” Even if we lived on only 50 percent of our income, we would live better than 90 percent of the world.
These are just some of the issues with which each of us must wrestle in order to model God-honoring stewardship for the tribes we lead.
I believe God created everyone to be great at something, and that when people find themselves unfulfilled or unsuccessful in their chosen field one or more of the following is true:
- They are in the wrong profession.
- They are in the wrong role in the right profession.
- They are working with or for the wrong people. (Most people do not quit their jobs; they quit their bosses.)
- They are working for the wrong reason(s). (This causes people to work too many hours and many times in the wrong profession.)
- They do not have a proper, biblical theology of work.6
All of us spend way too many hours working every week to be doing something we do not enjoy and in which we cannot excel. There are many reasons why people go to work at a particular place and in a particular role, many of which make no sense at all.
In seeking to find the right role, we need to consider how God has uniquely created us, how our life experiences have shaped us, and what we are passionate about. The answers to these questions provide clues to finding greater fulfillment and productivity in our work. There are some great resources available today to help us discover the role in which we will be most productive and fulfilled. I have found that even those in the right role in the right job can benefit from these tools to refine their job description.
- StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. This volume includes a code that allows you to access and take a twenty-minute online inventory that will reveal your top five strengths, in order, out of a possible thirty-four strengths. This is not a personality inventory. It provides a totally different measurement and when combined with a personality inventory, will give tremendous insight to determine a perfect fit.7
- Leading from Your Strengths online inventory. This is a refined form of the D.I.S.C. personality inventory, which will provide a twenty-eight-page report. The report helps you understand how you respond to change, pace, and problem solving and whether you are task-oriented or relationally-oriented. Go to ministryinsights.com8
- Any good online Spiritual Gifts Profile.9
In ministry, many times we are guilty of mimicking other ministries instead of creating our own unique expression of who we are and the particular tribes we are called to reach. At a conference I attended years ago, I heard Leonard Sweet say that during the 1980s many young pastors tried to re-create the ministry of Bill Hybels at Willowcreek in their own communities and that many of them, in the words of Leonard Sweet, “found themselves up a Willowcreek without a Hybels.”
Also, I have found it is also insightful to examine the activities we perform each day and make sure they are in alignment with our abilities. Everything we attempt to do will fall into one of the following four categories:
- Activities we do not do well.
- Tasks at which we are average.
- Things we do really well.
- Those activities at which we are better than almost everyone. Some would say these things fit our “unique competency.”
For obvious reasons, we should all strive to do less of those activities that we do not do well and tasks at which we are only average. I also recommend decreasing the time we spend doing things we do well. The time saved can be invested in those endeavors that fit in our unique strength area. Many times the difference between activities that flow out of our unique strength and those things we do well are indistinguishable to the outside observer. We, however, know that our unique ability activities are those that energize us rather than deplete us. This is the primary reason tribal leaders should seek, whenever possible, to delegate or “outsource” all tasks other than those that fit his or her unique ability.
One of the most common questions I receive about hiring staff is, “What position should I hire next?” That obviously will vary from church to church. However, in most cases I have found that pastor-level leaders do not have adequate administrative help. Consequently, many ministers find themselves doing administrative tasks that could be delegated to someone else so that they can better leverage their time and abilities. Almost every time you can hire someone in a lower pay grade or recruit a volunteer in order to give away tasks currently being done by a person in a higher pay grade, you increase productivity and expand ministry effectiveness.
I also believe it is important to schedule your most essential tasks during the time of the day when you are at your best. Most of us operate better at a particular time of day. For some, the most creative and energetic time is in the morning. For others, afternoon brings a second wind. Still others thrive during the evening hours.
Mornings are best for me. As a result, I reserve large blocks of time early in the day for sermon preparation, strategic planning, and important leadership meetings. My afternoons are made available for less-strategic meetings that impact fewer people, such as counseling or responding to the requests of others. I also get a second burst of energy at night, and this is why I try to be home most evenings. My family deserves some of my most creative and energetic times.
Discipleship of Others
Every one of us needs both a Paul and a Timothy in our life. We all need to be coaching and mentoring someone new to the faith, and we all need to be the object of some form of coaching and mentoring.
As a minister, I find seasons of my life when I am not discipling anyone except my direct reports as a part of my job as the leader of my church. Over the years, I have been convicted that it is both my responsibility and my privilege to disciple others as a non-professional, individual Christian. One of the most refreshing joys and edifying moments we can experience as believers is to pray for, witness to, and invite someone until they become followers of Christ. Then, once they place their faith in Christ, we should help them learn how to study the Bible, memorize Scripture, pray to God, resist temptation, worship, witness to others, and by His grace, become more like Christ.
As leaders, we touch the lives of others in multiple ways as we lead those who minister to others. But we should never become so busy or so isolated that we fail to directly impact the lives of those whom God has put in our sphere of influence.
A disclaimer may be appropriate here. In addition to the spiritual gifts of leadership and teaching, God’s spirit has graced me with the gift of evangelism. On the day God saved me, He gave me the supernatural ability and the accompanying passion to lead people to Christ. This means, among other things, that I can smell a lost person from across the room, and shortly after meeting him or her, I am able to determine where that person is on his or her journey toward God. I can also quickly, and in a nonoffensive manner, ascertain whether the individual has any desire to move closer to Him and what the next step could be in that process. All of this has nothing to do with my effort. It is a gift—just like your own spiritual gift(s).
This gifting also makes me quite passionate to see the whole body of Christ mobilized to share His love with a lost and dying world. Please do not write off my encouragement to you as gift projection on my part. While I realize that not all of us have the specific spiritual gift of evangelism, all of us are commanded to be witnesses.
In fact, Jesus said prior to His ascension that all of us would be witnesses (Acts 1:8). The only question that remains is whether or not we will be faithful and effective witnesses. Are we moving people toward Christ or driving them away from Christ?
The Bible says that there is a gift of giving, a special supernatural ability to make money and wisely invest it in God’s kingdom (Rom. 12:8). Yet, all of us, even without that specific gift, are commanded to give (2 Cor. 9:7).
There is the spiritual gift of faith, the supernatural ability to believe God for great things (1 Cor. 12:9). Yet the Bible tells all of us in Hebrews that without faith it is impossible to please God. In the same way, some of us are uniquely gifted to share our faith, but all of us are to be participants in evangelism.
Sometimes I think that those of us who have the gift of evangelism expect everyone to share Christ in the same style in which we are comfortable sharing. We tell stories about witnessing to a total stranger on a three-hour plane ride from Chicago to Dallas, and our people think, “Well, I could never do that.” As a result of rejecting our style, intensity, or method, they exclude themselves from the entire process.
Paul tells us that one believer plants the seed, another waters, and God gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6–8). More of our people would serve on the team to evangelize if they could come to understand that their participation is just a part of the process and that they do not always have to be the one who “closes the sale.”
In order for them to understand that witnessing is as natural as recommending a great restaurant or a good movie—things we do all the time—they need to understand that witnessing—most of the time—is more of a sentence than a paragraph. Witnessing does not require them to be biblical scholars or to be able to answer every question asked, but rather they only have to share the biblical truth that they have personally experienced.
We cannot expect those in our tribe to tend to the ten realms of self-leadership if we are not living it ourselves and are not open to the new and fresh winds of the Spirit blowing in our own lives. I like the way Paul the apostle describes self-leadership in 1 Corinthians 9:24–27:
Do you not know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly, or box like one who beats the air. Instead I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Before he could lead anyone else, Paul knew he had to exercise—by God’s grace—self-leadership. May his tribe increase.