Isn’t it ironic how we can take simple words/ letters and reorganize their structure/ order and end up with something so different. As I wrote the title of this blog, “how” and “Who” is one of those examples. The implications of which word we choose to love/define us are life changing.
Most people that claim faith in Jesus upon initial response would say it’s about the “Who”. However, is this what our lives echo by actions? Sadly enough, I believe we often times subconsciously embrace the “how” because we mistaken it’s identity for the “Who”. In a sense we can all have a form of spiritual “dyslexia”, getting our letters/priorities out of order, and not even know it unless we diagnose it by our symptoms.
Below are just a few measurement tools/ questions I use as reminders/ litmus test in order to keep my “Who’s” Who’s and my “hows” hows.
1.) What sustains/ defines me?
This is really an “identity” question. As a believer in Jesus, it is imperative that I understand the truth that God loves me because of Himself and not because of me. God loved me when I was unlovable and did not love Him in return. The Scriptures clearly communicate that “while we (me) were still sinners Christ died for us.” We so often times skim over this core truth, when in essence it is the heart of the gospel, that an all sufficient God would choose to love an insufficient creation. Simply put, God does not save/ rescue us because of what we do (our works), but because of who He is. Our salvation is accomplished/ incapsulated within God Himself, through Jesus. Jesus is why God sustains and defines us as His.
2.) Is my “how” secondary to the “Who”?
All I have to offer God and this world originates from God, not me. John 15 explains this in great detail from a horticultural angle. If God is the source of anything beneficial in this life then I better not stray from Him. When my time with Jesus personally does not match my time externally lived out in “what” I do in “ministry”, I run a great risk of withering and dying and leading people to follow me. (See point 1) We must always be in close communion with God by the feasting/ taking in of Scriptures and by intimate communication through prayer. This can be accomplished through large times and brief moments. In prayer I especially try to maintain often and constant conversation in my spirit with God. (yes, I do hear voices in my head 🙂 ).
3.) Does my “how” match the “Who”?
“Are the methods I use God honoring?”, is another way of saying this. I often teach and remind myself that God does not need me to accomplish His plan. He chooses to use me as vessel for His glory. God does not need unholy/ungodly methods in order to accomplish His plan. The only way I will know this is by being a studious student of the Word/ Scriptures. Although, the newest methods may not be spelled out in the Bible, God’s heart is. Our “how” must match the “heart” of God.
4.) Does my definition of successes match “His” success?
When I get pumped/excited about what I am doing I can often times become intoxicated/drunk by methods. What do we know about drunk people?…They don’t think clearly, vision is impaired, and they do things that are contrary to the core of who they are. Our tendency to become infatuated with our “how” is tied to our sin desire to be “self sufficient”. As much as we want to point towards God we still have a nature within in us that wants to take the role of God.
What or who is elevated by my success?
5.) Do I love my “how” over my “Who”?
We all love our own creative abilities, especially when we birth new things. This can occur in a secular line of work and also occur in ministry. We often times receive praise, awards, monetary advances, placement, position, and the list goes on. God has gifted us with His creative ability. The danger is when our heart begins to love what we do over who we love. It is an easy trap to fall into because we can see the results of our efforts with our eyes. Others can see them as well. Our efforts take on the facade of supporting our needs, our families, our hobbies…
However, what if God wanted to change how He uses you? Would you be willing? Would you be willing to leave all that “you” have created? All that you labored for? Could you sacrifice your “how/methods”?
When I struggle with answering this question I know I am getting close to loving what I do more than Who I love.
Below is quote from Andy Stanley from his book “7 effective principles of ministry”. I believe he captures well what can happen in our lives/ ministries if we are not careful. It also provides a perfect segway to my final thought.
“Individuals have been allowed to build their identity around a program, not a mission. It is normal for leaders to take pride in what they create. But it can become an unhealthy situation if leaders hold on to what they create too tightly. When individuals tie their identity to a program they’ve created, they lose the objectivity that is necessary to evaluate its effectiveness. And so mainstream denominations and conventional churches collectively pour millions of dollars annually into programs that should have been buried a decade ago. There is a very fuzzy line between building your personal significance around a program and attaching your heart to a mission. Programs need to change; a mission can last a lifetime. When leaders give their heart to a mission, they hold whatever they create with open hands. Why? Because the value of a program is linked to how well it helps accomplish the mission. And a good leader is always more passionate about the mission than about the program.”
6.) Is “how” I am doing it accomplishing the mission of “Who” it is for?
God exists and has redeemed us for His glory/purpose. However, we must be careful here that we do not confuse our purpose with God’s purpose. God’s purpose is to be glorified and worshipped. His purpose defines our purpose, not vice versa. God does not exist for us, we exist for Him. Our purpose is to worship the one true God and to lead others to do the same. This effort is often times referred to as “mission”. The mission simply put is to Make Disciples. One author was once quoted as saying “one day the mission will cease to exist”. When this age is over there will no longer be a mission but only worship of God in all His glory and splendor.
Is what we are doing accomplishing the mission?
The following is what I use to determine this in my life (family, friends, vocation):
REACH– Is what I am doing reaching people that do not know Jesus
BAPTISM– Is what I am doing producing fruit of people placing faith in Jesus
ENCOURAGE– Is what I am doing encouraging other believers to love Jesus more
EQUIP– Is what I am doing equipping believers to be secure in their love for Jesus, enough to defend it.
MOBILIZE– Is what I am doing motivating believers to externally do what matches their internal change.
LEADERS– Is what I am doing producing leaders that are not dependent on me, but on Jesus, to the point they are making disciples on their own.
However, I must offer a warning…
Our natural nature/ tendencies will try to justify what we are doing and marginalize those areas that we are not. If we are truly making disciples all areas must be present.
Let us all love the WHO over the how…