I am thankful for the chances I have to mow my lawn. Yes, you heard me right! I’m thankful because it provides opportunity to multitask and listen to leadership podcasts. Most people listen to podcasts in their car, but when your commute to work consists of a short walk, you have to find alternative times.
This past week I listened to a leadership podcast from Craig Groeschel titled, “Institutionalizing Urgency”.
In this podcast, he makes the case that we need to:
Learn to declare war on complacency and embrace urgency, because we cannot change what we’re willing to tolerate.
See, for many organizations, complacency is hard to see. Unfortunately, urgency is not always the default mode, complacency is. The greatest threat to future success is current success. Success feeds pride, and pride kills urgency: nothing fails like success.
Now, while Craig was sharing from an organization church leadership perspective (with hope that churches would not get complacent in their mission), I began to also think about urgency in terms of sharing the Gospel from a personal perspective. Whether as a church, or personally, my hope is that we will have a culture of urgency when it comes to sharing the Good News!
At Calvary, our mission (and hopefully your mission as well) is to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. Now, understanding that Jesus could return at any time (Matthew 24:36-44), it makes that mission all the more urgent. We might have 24 hours to accomplish that mission or 24 years. We don’t know!
The danger is in becoming victims of complacency - willing to ‘tolerate’ our current commitment to the mission. Over time, our bias for action becomes a bias for discussion. We sit around and talk about the mission but we’re no longer productive in accomplishing it. Yes, I understand it really is Jesus who accomplishes the mission by drawing others to Himself, not us. The goal is not activity, busyness, or doing ‘more’. The goal is that we’re faithfully following the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20), that is productivity.
Here’s a short illustration from William Booth’s - A Vision Of The Lost to help us see the importance of urgency:
“I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightening flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.
In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.
And I saw out of this dark angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with it’s summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this great rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.
On looking more closely I found a number of those who had been rescued, industriously working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of the sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of the consequences in their passion to "rescue the perishing." And I hardly know which gladdened me the most - the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks reaching a place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.
As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company. That is, they were divided into different "sets" or classes, and they occupied themselves with different pleasures and employments. But only a very few of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.
But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all about it. Anyway, it seemed the memory of its darkness and danger no longer troubled them at all. And what seemed equally strange and perplexing to me was that these people did not even seem to have any care - that is any agonizing care - about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes . . . many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and even their own children.”
As God has laid this on my heart, it’s been personally convicting. I am far from being the best disciple maker. What I am though, is committed… committed to becoming a better disciple maker and not getting complacent (or distracted) in the mission.
Take a moment and think about your own life.
What are you willing to tolerate (because you cannot change what you’re willing to tolerate)?
As you think about your own life and journey, what are you doing that’s ‘busy’ work but not ‘productive’ work when it come to making more and maturing disciples of Jesus?
What are you most distracted by?
If Jesus was coming back tomorrow, how would your to-do list for today change?
How uncomfortable would you allow yourself to be in order to see others come to know Jesus?
My prayer is that this would be an encouragement to you - and that we, the Calvary family, would embody a culture of urgency when it comes to sharing The Gospel.
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.