First Class Passengers

Corporate-jet-001I had a boss one time who had enjoyed some success with the company we were working for. She had worked during the first part of her career as in-house counsel and been afforded the opportunity to handle some high-dollar, high-profile cases on behalf of the company. The profile and exposure of her cases put her in front of the company’s “C” level executives on numerous occasions.

As her career advanced, she accepted management positions which were outside of the practice of law which she had been focused on. In this new environment, she was responsible for people beyond herself and her influence was as important as her competence.

When working with people, there are conflicts. People who had their own agenda or competing interests would get into contentious discussions with her. Sometimes, in the heat of the situation, the tone of the conversation could become emotionally charged and even personal. In those times, it was more important than ever to remain calm and restrained from an emotional response.

My boss would use a technique she shared with me one time for those times which invited defensive reactions. She would, in the middle of the “attack” think to herself, “I’ve flown on the corporate jet.”

In a non-spiritual way, she was reminding herself of who she was. The context would provide the emotional buffer necessary not to jump into an emotionally charged dispute. The restraint would facilitate clear-headed wisdom and accommodate dispute resolution.

We need to be reminded or we will take the bait. Romans 8 tells us that the Holy Spirit will testify with our spirit regarding our identity. When He tells us who we are, we are more inclined to operate as such. When we do, we’ll avoid the emotional traps of offense and self-protection and allow Him who says it to defend it, as well.

We are going to find ourselves in situations where others are opposed to us. If we operate from the insecurity that comes when we forget who we are, then we allow for the attacker to dictate our context. When we are reminded by Holy Spirit that our identity is assured and our purpose is eternal, we are equipped to meet the accusations and contention with grace and wisdom.

You may never fly on a corporate jet but you have a greater status symbol in the King of Kings. Jesus labels you as His but we will forget in the heat of the moments of a world that might never know for themselves. We need to be reminded. We need to remember.

Stay Off of The Throne

throne-roomWe all get tempted and the lure for us to step into certain lies is always set. Whispers of distortion cause doubts and insecurity intended for our demise. Most commonly, one of two temptations attempt to degrade our identity so we will stay worried about what we can expect. It robs our faith and exhausts our soul. There is a third temptation that is different from the other two.

The three common paths of temptation are found at the point of testing. We can see them as Jesus faces them in Luke 4 and Matthew 4. He has been fasting in the wilderness when the tempter comes to challenge Him in the following ways:

  1. Turning a rock into bread so He can feed Himself (provide for yourself)
  2. Jump off of a building and call down angels to catch you (protect yourself)
  3. Bow down to the devil and receive authority and glory (promote yourself)

The first two are preceded with “If you are the Son of God . . . ” The question being posed is “do you know who you are and do you trust your Father?” The third temptation regarding promotion to receive authority and glory doesn’t question identity explicitly. That temptation appears to be a little different.

God is Father and Jesus has paid the price for sons and daughters to be adopted by Him. That adoption brings the benefit of protection, provision and a place. The continual temptation, even after adoption, is to forget that He is a faithful Father who will do what He says He will do. The net result is the scrambling of an orphan to do it for ourselves.

That third temptation, however, has an extra twist to it. It isn’t a question of being a son of God, it is a question with being satisfied with that place. The temptation is for more beyond sonship to become primary. It is the temptation to reject the need for the Father because you can be God all by yourself.

This third temptation is the one that cause Lucifer to fall and become Satan. It’s the temptation of the American Dream. It’s achievement to the point of no need for adoption as sons. When the first two don’t work to set a person off the course of their intended destiny, the third is intended as the nuclear option which can cause them to implode.

Each of the temptations bring a result which can appear satisfying for a season. We generally are able to provide for ourselves to some measure and protect ourselves to some degree. We can also accomplish things to a point which makes us feel capable beyond the need for God. The weight of the place that only He is intended to fill, however, eventually crushes even the seemingly strongest of people. The idol of “me” is destined for destruction.

 

Beyond the Soul

jaragua-residence-everythingwithatwist-02-650x651We are getting flooded with stimulus that calls us into action. More accurately, things are prompting us to reaction. We take note of the threats, opportunities and needs that stimulate our mind, will and emotions into a frenzy of planning, working and doing. We logically process the world around us and respond on its terms. The outside stirs up our inside and to find peace and comfort in the ensuing anxiety, we scramble to fix everything at once.

Instead of working from the outside-in, what if we started to work from the inside-out? Instead of processing through our soul (mind, will and emotions), what if we worked from His Spirit which resides in us (if we’ve responded to His invitation for Him to live within us)?

What makes us different from the world if we are responding from the same motivations and fears that the world is a slave to? Since the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available and living within us, shouldn’t we at least consider working from His power instead of our own?

It’s OK to not know the answer and not have the fix. It’s OK to allow God to work things out on our behalf. It requires an active faith and not just a theoretical, Sunday-morning faith, but it’s good because He is good and He is for us.

When Adam and Eve fell in the garden, they did not physically die even through God told them that they would die. Their life beyond their rebellion did not make God out to be a liar. Their spirit, which was His spirit within them, died. The Life that He had breathed into them to make them living creatures was now dead so all they were left with was the soul of an orphan.

That’s what Jesus came to restore; the living breath of God within us. We can be born again, a new creation from the inside-out, when we welcome His grace to restore us with the Father. The realization of our adoption through His grace affords us the rights, privileges, benefits and favor of a son. We are heirs through Christ; co-heirs with Him. Yet, we battle our orphan soul.

The response of an orphan is always, “what do I have to do to take care of myself?” They (we) always want to do. We want to do something to earn something. We want approval through our efforts. Our efforts are controllable and orphans want to control the outcomes as there is no trust in receiving anything that isn’t acquired via effort.

There’s nothing we have to do. Just be. Be a son and receive the fullness of grace that Jesus has paid for. Let Him respond as an Advocate from the inside-out instead of striving to acquire and respond from the outside-in.

Stampede

buffaloIt’s easier to do it than to lead it. The harder road is the one which yields the doing to another for their benefit. The release is powerful for the multiplication of the vision and necessary for the sustainability of the movement. Yet, it’s easier to hold on.

Many times leaders get promoted to places of leadership because they have a gift, ability and skill in a particular area. They have applied those abilities in a productive way such that they are recognized. Their gifts make a way for them and they are placed in positions where they lead others in doing the thing(s) in which they have proven ability.

Being excellent at something does not equate to leadership, however. The leader facilitates the promotion of others, which is the entire reason they were advanced into their position of influence. Their promotion was one into multiplication where they used to work in addition. The trap is to continue to add despite the mechanism for multiplication being at their disposal.

Leaders get out-of-the-way to allow for others to step up. When they allow for others to stretch, there has to be a tolerance for the development of the gifts in others. Development indicates that there is room to grow and that room to grow likely means that the ability of the emerging other is not as excellent as that of the proven leader. If the leader won’t allow for the development of excellence at the cost of mistakes, there will be no multiplication as the growth of the other will be halted.

We are in the second year of the men’s ministry which I was given the responsibility to begin. I’ve found myself increasingly giving over opportunities for others to stretch and develop in their gifts. Sometimes it is at the expense of how I would prefer it to go in the moment. That expense is a small price to pay for the health, sustainability and multiplication of what can be a movement of men. The movement of men cannot be a movement of Scott, so others have to be developed to multiply beyond my limited capacity.

This isn’t easy. This requires a release not only to the developing leaders, but to God. I have to trust God that He is the One that does and will do. I have to believe and trust that He is the one that ministers in the first place, not me and not the emerging leaders. I have to rest in Him as others are representing Him from their unique relationship with Him.

Born of Encounter

Sea-Waves_Crash-against-Rocks__57192-480x320I’m consistently focusing on what is likely the most foundational idea of my calling. I started with considering those that brought me along (https://scottprickett.com/2015/01/27/what-it-looks-like-2/) and am going deeper into what that means for me as I relate to others going forward. The definition of disciple is required for intentionally growing as a disciple maker.

The original word which we translate as “disciple” is also translated to communicate that the disciple is a “learner.” Something that I realized when I was in law school was that learning is really much more dependent on the student than it is the teacher. The teacher can’t read, consider, write or practice the things that they have to pass on for the student. Only by a student’s efforts born of their desire can they move from where they are.

John 4:1 says, ” . . . Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples . . .” He was “making” and “baptizing” disciples. John 4:2 goes on to say that it wasn’t Jesus that baptized them, but his disciples were actually baptizing newer disciples. So these disciples that Jesus was “making” were pretty new . . . certainly newer than the ones that came with Him to this baptizing place.

So these new(er) disciples were “made.” This means that, 1) they hadn’t walked with Jesus for what turned out to be three years like the twelve, and 2) they were identified as disciples. This means that it didn’t take a process to “make” a disciple. It took an encounter.

A disciple is born out of an encounter with Jesus, not a program about Jesus. The only way to have the “want to” necessary to become and remain a learner is by encountering Him. Other people, those that have gone ahead of us, can baptize, teach and build on the change that He caused, but only He can facilitate the new birth that creates a disciple.

The first step in disciple making is to encounter. We are much more facilitators at this point than we are teachers. Without a Spirit to spirit invitation, acceptance and affirmation of new birth, any further “disciple making” will be built on a faulty foundation. Being a disciple is much harder than advertised and when the fire gets hot, only the born-again new creation will choose to go further. The conditionally interested, self-disciplined moral achievers will check out.

So, my first conclusions regarding my efforts to be a disciple maker are:

  1. Disciples are born of an encounter with Jesus
  2. The new life from the encounter contains desire for learning
  3. From a desire to learn, I can teach and support the initiative of the disciple
  4. Their initiative is the fuel that drives the process
  5. That initiative will take them to the hard places of growth

What It Looks Like

discple makingAm I or not? Is he? Wait a minute, what’s the definition, again?

Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in what defines a thing that we can miss the thing which is right in front of us. The effort to contain the idea with the intention of mastering it becomes a distracting rabbit trail. We can get so wrapped up about what it is that we can miss being it.

I’ve been reading and thinking about discipleship. I’ve been asking myself, “am I a disciple maker” and “could I be a better disciple maker?” These questions raise the logical question of “what is a disciple?” That thought process can lead to conclusions of examples of who “is” and who “isn’t,” at least by definition.

This is a work in progress for me, but so far I’m starting with my own experience to try to determine how to maximize disciple making.  Two men jump out in my memory as those who invested in me most intentionally to date. The thing they had as a common trait was that they were doers more than they were “teachers” in the transfer of information sense of the word.

The first chased God and invited myself and a couple of others to chase with him, which created an environment where we individually sought God together. We drew near to God and He met us in our pursuit. We connected to Him individually, together. There were testimonies more than there were lessons. “This is what God is showing me . . . ” in Scripture and life more than, “you need to . . . ” do any particular thing. The testimonies increasingly became leveled out to where the disciples were sharing in such a way that the disciple maker was simply one of the four.

The second of the men invited me as he ministered to others for the purpose of raising me up in my ministry to others. I would sit next to him and watch and listen and then, when I was ready, I would contribute. He would gradually increasingly release me to lead and eventually leave the room when I was out front as evidence of trust.

It took years in each case to move from these seasons of growth to the next season of expressing the new-found maturity. There were no shortcuts and there was no final exam. I still receive from each of them, but the relationship is more co-laboring than it was initially.

I haven’t finalized conclusions about disciple making, just yet, but as I think about the most distinct examples of disciple makers in my life, I see:

  • Doers of the Word
  • Humility
  • Security in their identity
  • Willingness to invite and share
  • Desire to promote
  • Ability to laugh in the middle of the process
  • Grace for when I get it wrong
  • Transparency with their own flaws
  • Friends