“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Ok, this is a bit late for the week…lots of things popped up. Sorry we haven’t posted so far! This is the last installment in our series covering lessons I have learned from working with Collin and Wyatt. I hope you all have gained some insight from reading them. I would very much appreciate feedback on this series if you have time to give some.
So, what’s different this time around? How come this ministry has lasted longer than any other thing we have started? It is because:
a.) We have all matured and drawn closer to God as we’ve gotten older
b.) We are all using the principles that we’ve covered in this series, and letting them affect every area of this website. The basic principles are:
1- We need unity
God can bring issues to our mind because He wants us to change something that we’re doing. But Satan can also use conflicts between believers to distract us from our mission.
“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” –Mark 3:25
Satan is aware of this, and keeps on bombarding the Church with issue after issue that results in people over here taking a different stance on the issue than people over there. Again, each issue and it’s level of importance someone attaches to it varies depending on the person. If God convicts you about an issue, then by all means obey Him. You are responsible for what God shows you to do:
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” -James 4:17
If you keep having objections or find yourself in conflict with the person you are trying to work with, evaluate it, and pray about it. See whether it is something that the Lord is convicting you about, or if it is Satan attempting to put a wedge in between you and your partner.
In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas had a strong disagreement. These two missionaries were on fire. Yet, they couldn’t agree on whether or not to bring Mark with them. Their dispute became so heated that they split! Wow! I’m sure that God was able to use that for good, but how sad it must have been to see these two pillars of the early church having such a sharp dispute that could no longer work together. While I have no idea about all the particulars of God’s plan for that situation, it would seem to me that that was a secondary issue. An issue not worth dividing over.
2- Commitment is Key
Many people will enter ministry with the wrong mindset regarding commitment. Few go into it saying, “I’m sticking with it no matter what comes up.” In fact, this isn’t only a problem in this area. This issue plagues marriages. Commitment problems are all over the place, and having a reputation for sticking with whatever you start is a huge asset. What is your view towards commitment? What are you going to do when people leave your group and you lose support?
First off, your faith needs to be in Christ, not in those you are working with. I’m preaching to myself more than anyone. If you’re like me, when people disagree with you, you kinda start to panic. Well, that’s not great! If (like me) you have experienced this through a ministry, you have to keep the right focus. We’re not doing this to get praise, and that’s a lot easier to say than to do or feel. We need to be doing this so that Christ gets all of the glory.
Second, when you commit, you’re in it for however long you’re committed for. When you commit to something, you need to stick with it when it stinks. You need to stick with it when it is inconvenient. I’ve been committed to many things specifically with Wyatt and Collin. And you know what? There were (and are) times that I don’t…feel…like…doing…anything. But what I’ve learned is that when you commit to something, you are promising yourself and your “services” to whatever you’re working on. Hopefully you didn’t bite off more than you could chew! I’ve done that a million times, and somehow still haven’t learned my lesson completely. Maybe someday!
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 10:31
God tells us (through Paul) to do all, everything that we do for the glory of God. Let me ask you: if God was physically here with you and you committed to something with Him, would He get stood up by your lack of commitment to Him? Everything we do is for the glory of God. We need to stick with what we commit to because we are committing to Christ.
It’s going to be hard. Charles Stanley said, “Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful as long as it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” How committed are you? Again, I’m preaching to myself here.
3- Know When to Give, When to Take
“Give and take” means to put everything in perspective and knowing when to back off. There are things that are important, and then there are the things that you can “give.” It’s all about analyzing the situation and taking it from there.
Sometimes, most of the time in fact, getting what you want is not as important as the big picture. The big picture is that we are followers of Christ. Our mission is to spread the kingdom and draw closer to Him. If we allow a conflict to distract us, then we need to decide if it is something really worth arguing about. Most of the time, I’ve found that “giving way” to the other person still works out great for me. Even though I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, I still was able to reach a conclusion that ended the conflict. And to make it better, it still works for me.
4- The Right Focus Guides You
Not all things are worth ruining your friendship or relationship with someone over. In fact, most (if not all) things are not. If you have siblings or parents that you live with, you understand that conflict is going to happen. I would say it is pretty much unavoidable. When you put a lot of selfish, sinful people under one roof, sparks are bound to fly. And you know that if you don’t resolve the conflict, everything can get really ugly really fast. If everyone in a family that lived together decided not to allow any room for compromise in their selfishness, that place would be a wreck. A big one. But for all of you who live with a family, you know that compromise and conflict resolving are necessary and vital skills to living with other people.
In the same way, when you have a friend or sibling that you’re really close to, you have to keep the right focus. You have to realize that getting your way about a minor detail is not worth upsetting them and hurting your relationship with them over.
And, overall, our sole focus should be on Christ. What would Jesus do?
5- Conflict and the Resolution Thereof
When involved in conflict with others, many people simply just seek to get what they want. They do whatever they can, no matter the cost, to get what they desire. This is an awful mistake.
We have to realize that our actions have consequences not only for us, but for those around us as well. Life would be so much more simple for everyone (and us) if a person’s actions only affected that person. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. What we do, and what others do, affect us and those around us. For example, let’s say that you just tried to steal something from a store. It can be anything, big or small. For the sake of the argument, we’ll pretend it’s candy.
You try to steal this candy, but you get caught. The people at the store catch you, the burly security guard walks over, and you hand over the stolen “goods.” Who is affected in this example? Obviously, you were, the store’s workers were, and the people with you were as well.
My point with all of that is that our selfish tendencies affect other people. In some cases, it keeps them from receiving something they needed. In other cases, it affects your relationship with that person. You could even, by your selfishness, lead them into sin by provoking them to do something. If we approach conflict with a “finders keepers” attitude, we can limit others’ productivity for the kingdom of Christ, will limit our productivity for the kingdom, and affect our relationships with God and others.
6- Know Your Core Beliefs
Your “core beliefs” are what you believe about the basic tenets of Christianity: the infallibility of the Bible, Christ’s virgin birth, etc. I would argue that people who have differing views of these foundational beliefs might not be saved.
“Do not be yoked togetherwith unbelievers.For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” -2 Corinthians 6:14
Paul warns about being unequally yoked with unbelievers. While some people differ in their opinions of what “yoked” means, I would say that a basic thing is that you have to be very careful when you choose to do a ministry with someone who is not a Christian.
Another helpful thing is to try and make sure that you and your partner share the same vision for moving forward. This will lead to less conflict.
7- God’s Version of “Best” Might Not Be Our Version of “Best”
My parents often use the phrase “Good, Better, Best.” This is a “rating tool” in a way that helps us to analyze how beneficial the things that we do are. The following example is completely unrelated, but bear with me. For example, doing our regular chores without being told might fall under “Better.” But taking the initiative on other tasks that need to be done and completing those without being asked would fall under “Best.” You see, so often we have our own little view of what is “Best” for us. We cannot see all the things down the road, and as a result, our finite minds cannot really make a decision with all of the facts. God has all the facts, current and future. Often, our view of ” Best” might fall under His view of “Good.” And so, since He has other things in store for you, He might close that door so that you can experience His “Best.” That’s what His desire for all of us is.
Well, we’ve made it! This is the last post in this series that has lasted 2 months. There has been a whole lot of information “thrown” at you. However, I hope you have been able to apply some of these principles to a few areas in your life or ministry (or both!). This week, there are two challenges:
1- Try to use all of these principles this week in your life or ministry
2. If you have specific examples regarding any of these principles or personal lessons that you’ve learned from your experiences, write us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us about them. We would love to share some of them on the website/blog!