August 2007


[This post is duplicated at Loom & Wheel.] 

 

Following his pattern of developing ideas through questioning, Craig Groeschel asks three questions to help readers of Chazown begin finding their spiritual gifts. What is your passion? What is your impact? What is your secret belief? Each of the questions deals with the things that you do—the activity of your life.

First, what is it that you do with passion? What is it that you enjoy doing or suspect that you might enjoy doing? I find that communication is the thing that I have a passion about. I look for ways to communicate, to say the right word at the right time. I find that I have the same desire in my writing—to use the best word to communicate the best possible message at the perfect time. I like to think that once in awhile, I hit the mark.

What, then, do you do that seems to have a significant impact on the world around you? This is a tough question for me because as my mother has often observed, I am my own biggest critic. I’ve discovered that while sometimes my words do have the impact that I desire, it is more often time that impacts those around me. People seem to be more aware that I have spent time with them than they are to remember anything I say. This is especially true during times of crisis. Few if any people remember the words said in a prayer when they are going into a time of surgery, but most remember that you were there and that you offered a prayer.

Finally, what is it that you secretly believe that you can do—even if you’ve never tried it? Although I’ve journeyed down the road of self-publishing (in essence, paying up-front the costs of getting your book between covers and in hard copy form), I still feel that I’ve got the stuff to get my stories published. Groeschel asserts that you should do what you secretly know you can do. He follows up with another assertion that if you don’t do it, if you keep putting it off, you’ll lose the ability to do that which you secretly think you can do. (That’s double-talk for saying, “Put up or shut up.”)

Here’s another author’s perspective on the same idea:

A Dream Deferred

by Langston Hughes

(Langston Hughes homepage)

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Once you have found these things, you are better equipped to find your spiritual gifts—those things which God has given you that will help you further the work of the Kingdom. Like other authors, Groeschel has found an assessment tool which will help followers of Jesus discover their gifts (based on a listing developed by the writers of the assessment tool). Here are my gifts based on that tool:

Apostleship – adaptability, with an emphasis on missions and cross-cultural witness.

Shepherding – care, nurture, and guiding.

Leadership – purpose and goal setting.

Knowledge – insight.

Teaching – able to communicate ideas.

Coupling this with the core values that I developed earlier, is it any wonder that the most energized I have been in my career path has been during those times I have been living in ministry? Serving as the pastor of a church is a hand-in-glove fit for me. I am able to use my gifts to address my personal values in an effort to build God’s kingdom. What a rush!

Advertisements

I took a quiz. It’s based on the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Profile (I lovingly dubbed this the “Briggs ‘n’ Stratton” Test at missionary orientation). At the same site was a “multi-intelligence” assessment. Below is the visual presentation of the two tests side by side. Bottom line–this is who I think I am. With these results in mind, I am looking to be who I can be through Christ.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

For a list of “famous” people (real and fictional) who share my personality type click here.

[This post is simultaneously published on Loom & Wheel where I observe life in general. These “journal” entries are the type that hit the emphases of both this and my general blogs. If you enjoy what you see here, but would like to take a more microscopic look into my mind, click on the link to visit there.]

Craig Groeschel insists that your ultimate Life Vision, your Chazown, is tied indelibly to three areas of your life: your Core Values, your Spiritual Gifts, and your past experiences. Today we’ll deal with my response to the issue of Core Values. Core Values are those things that strike you at your heart (your core). They are the ideals that make you stand up and take notice. There are two questions which can help you arrive at what those core values might be.

First, what really angers me? What makes your righteousness get indignated? For me it amounts to three or four things (in no particular order, but even as I think about it to write these things, I begin to see red). Hurting children. When people take advantage of children in a way that God never intended, when children suffer needlessly because of government waste or parental ignorance, my dander flares.

Lying. So often I find that when people play on my good nature and then I find out they aren’t truthful with me, my head aches. Why would someone lie? To me or to anyone, why? I’ve known those people who would tell a lie when the truth would be more expedient, but lying—truthlessness—is their nature. Why?

False Pride. I think perhaps the one thing that makes me froth at the mouth most is this insane—inane—habit that especially believers in Christ exhibit. So many people are ready to offer prayer and advice for others in need, but then there are entire families filled with those who need (they really, really need) prayer or help and refuse to allow the Family of God to bear the burden with them. Who cares if it “looks like” you have a flaw? How presumptuous is that? That we might never ever need a friend.

And then, the second question: What brings me bliss? What shouts to you, “PARTEEE”? What gets your toes to tappin’, your mouth to rappin’ and your whole heart flappin’? Again, I found three standouts in the crowd. Presents. I suppose the reason that I love Christmas so much—aside from the fact that it’s when we celebrate the first coming of the Christ—is that our tradition suggests, no insists, no it outright requires, me to give gifts. I love giving gifts—especially those unexpected gifts that cost little, but mean a mint. One of my favorite things is to catch my beloved blushing bride off-guard with the perfect birthday, anniversary, or Christmas gift. But best yet was the time that I was able to sneak in the china cabinet when she was out of town. I even displayed the china for when she returned from her trip to Grandma’s.

Laughter. Nothing makes my chest (some would say my head) swell with self-satisfaction than to know that someone enjoyed my company because I made them smile. I first realized this as a freshman in college. Dorm life—that’s the ticket. Getting to know the other men on my hall was always fun. People would roam the hall and if a door was open, it meant social hour was in session in that room. On one of these occasions I finally had to leave a group of friends to go (I don’t know—study or sleep or something) and as I left the room I heard one of the friends still in the room comment, “I just love Benjie, he’s so funny.” I hadn’t even been trying to be funny.

Communication. I suppose you could say that communication is my life. One of the greatest drives that I have as a pastor, author, blogger is that people catch what I’m trying to say. Sometimes I fall short of this goal because I have a tendency to overuse egghead vocabulary when I should be speaking to the third-grader in the crowd. But still, I want him to understand.

Having assessed these questions, I turned to the list that Groeschel provides at http://www.chazown.com/ to line up what I feel are the core values that most closely match my heart’s cry. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Authenticity
  • Creativity
  • Discipleship
  • Faith
  • Godliness
  • Humor
  • Integrity

I think that’s a fair list.

            One of the things I found frustrating about the book The Kingdom-Focused Church by Gene Mims was the amount of time he took introducing the material (an introduction and the first two chapters) before getting to the meat of the book. Even so, it was in this lengthy bit of building up to the real ideas in the book that he gave great food for thought—especially for pastors. Over the years I have head statistics that have placed pastoral tenure averages at anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. This is a disturbing thought (of which I don’t have the most current numbers—feel free to enlighten me if you have something newer than 2000 stats).

            With this issue in mind it isn’t surprising that regular church members are becoming less and less committed to the church. Some will be adamant about being in church, but few are concerned about the church they are in—perhaps even being “active” in three or four congregations at a time. People don’t know what they believe let alone what the church they attend teaches. They wander from congregation to congregation without regard to the doctrines and teachings of that church, that denomination, that preacher. Instead, people are looking for a place they like—where they have a “connect” and can feel good. And preachers lead the way. Why? Because of a desire to find the perfect church or the church that may not be perfect but where we can be instrumental in the change needed to make a step toward the perfection we desire.

            (Quick note: there are times that God moves in such a way as to move people from time to time, and this can even happen after only a short stay in one place, but this—to me—would seem to be the exception rather than the rule.)

            Now here’s what we find from Mims:

            [T]he only church you can change is the one you’re serving in right now. You can’t develop an effective plan for improving the church you have if you’re also hard at work on your exit strategy, pining away fro the church of your imagination, or wishing for the one you left ten years ago.

 

            He further says, “Your church isn’t the church you want; it’s the church you have.”

            Personally, I’ve always contended that for a preacher to move from being the “preacher” to being the “pastor” of a congregation, it takes at least five years. Mims argues that in order to really be the pastor of a church one must stay 7 to 10 years.

            So what does this say to us—as ministers, as church members, as followers of Christ? Be satisfied. I’ll leave you with two thoughts about being satisfied where you are. The first is an old hymn:

 

Satisfied with Jesus

B.B. McKinney

 

I am satisfied with Jesus,

He has done so much for me:

He has suffered to redeem me,

He has died to set me free.

 

 

He is with me in my trials,

Best of friends of all is He;

I can always count on Jesus,

Can He always count on me?

 

 

I can hear the voice of Jesus,

Calling out so pleadingly,

“Go and win the lost and straying;”

Is He satisfied with me?

 

 

When my work on earth is ended,

And I cross the mystic sea,

Oh, that I could hear Him saying,

“I am satisfied with thee.”

 

 

[Refrain]

I am satisfied, I am satisfied,

I am satisfied with Jesus,

But the question comes to me,

As I think of Calvary,

Is my Master satisfied with me?

 

 

            And now the more important thought about satisfaction:

 

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12, NIV)

            I just received a review copy of Craig Groeschel’s Chazown. The title is taken from the Hebrew word translated “dream, revelation, or vision.” In reading the first few pages, the author encouraged the reader to interact with the book in order to discover his own personal vision. In order to give a true reading to the book, I’m taking Groeschel’s advice and have logged on to www.chazown.com and down-loaded the accompanying journal. I’m also going to try to respond especially to the “You’re the Author” prompts as well as jot down thoughts that inspire me. Some of those thoughts will make their way here.

            Groeschel introduces the idea of Chazown by indicating that the vision is one that will lead you to living your life in such a way that there is no question of God’s direction there. He uses the example of Joseph who dreams of being elevated into a place of leadership only to be thrown into a pit, into prison, and then finally to realize the dream. It occurred to me to ask the question “Are there people you know who are showing the spirit of vision spoken about in the book?” Below is one answer that struck me from recent days:

            One man who is living and breathing Chazown in his life—before my eyes—is Steve Hunt. Out of nowhere he contacts me with a glimpse of his vision: write a story that points people to Jesus.

            The journey has moved him from asking the question, “What shall I do to glorify God?” to writing a novel that is tastefully filled with the gospel message in the hope to reach some who would never read the Bible with the message of salvation.

            The writing of the book went smoothly as he wrote each evening after work. Then with an impression from the Holy Spirit, he sent the manuscript to only one publisher for consideration. The publisher accepted his submission and now the book is in stores with the second book in the process of editing and a third forming in his mind.

            Steve’s statement to me (on more than one occasion): “I’m not looking to make any money; if one person comes to Christ by this effort, I will be happy.”

            When we begin to look for the place to get our theology there are several places to turn: the Bible, church/church history, tradition, society, or music to name a few.

            The scripture is a great place to look for the theology we want to espouse because as believers in Christ we can look to the source of how to think about God (God himself). The difficulty with this approach is that it requires us to read the Bible, to think about the Bible, and even to meet with the Master to see how we ought to think.

            Therefore, we ease our spirits (and our minds) by turning to the church. Let the church determine what I believe, after all that’s what they’re there for, right? It is much easier to have someone tell me what to believe because they have done the work in looking into the Bible and interpreting the passages for me. Even better, I would love to have a pattern set for me in the history and traditions of the church that will give me insight into what I should believe. And so we have people who claim Christianity who are more involved in churchaholism than they are in the study of God and how He works. I do not say this to discount the importance of church but to cause us to think about which is more important—what the church says about God or what the Bible reveals about Him.

            Occasionally, in order not to be bogged down by the restraints of the church, we will turn to society to develop our views on theology. Sadly, this approach causes us to buy into the idea that “whatever someone believes is all right, as long as they’re not hurting anyone.” We are led into a universalism (belief in the idea that all roads lead to salvation) with a total disregard for what God has revealed in the scripture. We are not bound by limits and narrow-minded views that study of the Bible would lead us to. We also are able to adjust and re-adjust our thoughts to fit with the crowd in which we find ourselves. While this approach will allow me to be politically correct in all that I do, I quickly become weak and compromising in what I believe about God. I also discover that ultimately I believe nothing, stand for nothing and care about nothing.

            And so, believers—who don’t want to go to the trouble of seeking their theology in the right place, or even restraining themselves to being told what to believe, and are concerned about believing nothing—have found the perfect place to find their faith and theology: music. I do not write all music off as shallow and unthinking—realizing that many singers and song writers are genuine in trying to express their beliefs in a creative form. Instead I find that Christians are quick to latch onto the songs that have an easy rhythm, palatable lyrics, and popular thought. From these songs believers build their theology. The result is often a self-centered, whining that instead of making our requests known to God, brings our excuses and complaints to Him. Note the oft-sung favorite whinefest that’s been around for years (and is loved by Christians all over America):

One Day at a Time
 
(Kris Kristofferson, Marijohn Wilkin)
 
I'm only human, I'm just a man
Help me believe and all I can be and all that I am
Show me the stairway I have to climb
Lord, for my sake please teach me to take one day at a time.
 
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That's all I'm asking of you
Just give me the strength to do everyday
What I have to do.
 
Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord, help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.
 
Do you remember
When You walked among men
Well Jesus, you know if you're looking below
It's worse now than then.
 
There's pushing and shoving
And crowding my mind
So, for my sake teach me to take
One day at a time.
 
One day at a time, sweet Jesus
That's all I'm asking of you
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
 
Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord, help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.
 
Lord, help me today show me the way
One day at a time...

            With the advent of country music, the nasally singer can really whine about not really being what God wants them to be—after all, “I’m only human.”

            Or consider the new anthem of the church (as performed by Christ Tomin):

 I can only imagine
What it would be like
When I walk, by Your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes would see
When Your face, is before me
Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for You, Jesus?
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence
Or To my knees will I fall
Will I sing Hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the son
I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine 

            Again, I’m not saying that songs are bad in and of themselves, but are we to spend our time imagining what life will one day be like, or are we going to focus on the task God has at hand for us to do—now, today. In a sense we have become self-centered in our theology which ought to by definition focus on God. Where do we find our basis for studying God? What do we study when we study God—our own self-interest or the will of the Almighty?