(41) “GOD DOESN’T MAKE JUNK”
I will never forget the letter I received from a lady who had met with me to discuss her concerns about her son. She wrote: “I came to see you about my son but somehow you sensed I needed help. You helped me realise that I was worth loving, and that God actually valued me. I came from our talk feeling that I had insulted God for thinking someone he created was worthless, and I was suddenly convinced God loved me as I am and I wanted to shout it to everyone. It took the rest of the day to calm down. What a lovely feeling. I still have days of self doubt, but when I am thinking clearly I remember your words, ‘Do you think God would create junk?’ I often find myself laughing at these words. They stick in my mind and help me when I am down.”
Perhaps you are reading this letter and feel just like this dear lady felt. Can I share what I said to her?
* Your identity is not found in what you do but who you are.
* You are created by a loving God and he doesn’t make junk.
* You are unconditionally loved by His Son Jesus who saw you at your worst and yet died for you to pay the penalty for your sin.
* You are adopted into God’s forever family when you accept Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness and trust Him as your saviour. You won’t regret it.
(42) “BEWARE THE DANGER OF PRIORITISING COMPETENCE OVER CHARACTER”
If ever there was a lesson for us to learn today, it is this; beware the danger of giving responsibility to a person who has the competence to undertake the responsibility but lacks the necessary character.
The lesson is just as important for a person who is contemplating marriage or driving a vehicle or taking on employment or governing a country.
The apostle Paul warns the Corinthians of this danger. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give away my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Maturity = competence (gifts of the Spirit, IQ) + character (fruit of the Spirit, EQ). So beware when growth in competence starts to outstrip growth in character. Annual appraisals should address both areas. Only increase a person’s responsibility to the degree that a person is growing in competence as well as character. Never promote on potential alone. The dangers of shipwrecking your venture are too serious to ignore this lesson.
(43) “YESTERDAY IS GONE, TOMORROW MAY NEVER COME, ALL WE HAVE IS TODAY”
On April 28th 1996, Walter Mikac lost his wife , Nanette, and two daughters, six year old Alannah and three year old Madeline. They were shot dead, along with 32 other innocent people, during the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. At the funeral Walter said, “Don’t take your partner for granted, don’t take your children for granted. Don’t take life for granted and last and most importantly don’t take tomorrow for granted.”
In some surprising way the story of Walter Mikac deeply stirred me. Interestingly it was my two daughters who purchased his book, To Have And To Hold…A modern day love story cut short…. and presented it to me for a Father’s Day gift.
Reflecting on Walter’s story gave me some timely perspective on my life:
*Don’t take life for granted and don’t live with regrets *Don’t save up for a rainy day, it may never come
*Create special memories each day *Tell those close to you that you love them whenever you can
*Life isn’t a dress rehearsal *Wear your favourite clothes, now *Forgive. Don’t live with grudges
*Be generous now, don’t wait until you have saved enough *All we have is today
*You can’t take things with you when you die *Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
(44) “WE ARE CALLED TO PASTOR A CITY”
There came a time in my ministry where I developed the conviction that I was called to pastor a city and not just a church. About the same time I came to understand that I needed to equip people in my church to minister in the city, in the world in which they lived, as well as in the church. Not all of the spiritual gifts given to people in the church were meant to be exercised in the life of the church.
In the process, a new dimension of life began to unfold in the church. Some new initiatives included:-
*Prayer meetings moving out from the church’s four walls. On occasions, I hired a bus to transport our people to critical areas in our city to pray. We prayed into our local council chamber, we prayed in areas of our city where vandalism was occurring and we prayed for other churches.
*I began to meet regularly with our city leaders to pray for them and encourage them.
* We began breakfasts for our business people where Christian business leaders could come and speak about how they were advancing the kingdom of God in the business world.
* We conducted Appreciation Days in our Sunday services where we would invite different groups of people, teachers, health workers, seniors, neighbours etc to thank them and pray for them and share Jesus with them.
An amazing transformation gradually took place as we realised we were called to pastor our “Jerusalem”.
(45) “ PLAY A ONE STRING GUITAR”
I can’t think of a more important lesson I learned in my life than the lesson of CONVERGENCE; to understand that God made me for a purpose and that He uniquely shaped me to live out that focused purpose over the period of my lifetime. Two men helped me to understand that purpose at a critical time in my life.
First, Donald McGavran, the founder of the church growth movement was an incredibly gifted man and much in demand for his writing and speaking to many audiences. However there came a time where he realised that God had laid on his heart the advancement of the Great Commission and from that time on he focused all his energies and gifts on that one great calling. People said of him that “he played a one string guitar”.
Robert Clinton, my leadership professor at Fuller Seminary, taught me the principle of a lifelong timeline where God is continually moving a person towards a unique, focused ministry based on that person’s giftedness and experiences. This heightened sense of destiny gradually leads to a stage of life called CONVERGENCE, or a round peg in a round hole.
I am now in that stage where I live out my life through my two dominant gifts, leadership and teaching, and I stay focused, playing my one string guitar through my ministry called EQUIPPING THE NEXT GENERATION. There are various things I could dabble at, but there is a focused calling that drives me to passionately live out the rest of my life in my place of convergence.
As the apostle Paul testified, “but one thing I do.” Philippians 3:13
(46) “ OPEN AND CLOSED DOORS”
“What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” Revelation 3:7-8
One of the greatest encouragements for me has been to learn to trust God to open and close doors for me in my unfolding life that have led me along a pathway I could never have imagined. Sadly, I have also witnessed people whose lives have been shipwrecked by taking their lives into their own hands. When they have broken down closed doors that in God’s wisdom were never meant for them, they have often suffered unfortunate consequences.
From my life of open and closed doors I have learned that God’s initiatives –
* didn’t always seem logical to me.
* didn’t always come at appropriate times. Convenience is not a prerequisite for God’s open doors.
* were always accompanied by God’s provision.
* often involved a price to pay and a denial of things that were dear to me.
* required me to trust Him and take faith steps.
* never have left me with regrets.
The lesson of open and closed doors is one of the most important lessons you can ever learn. Your whole life depends on it.
(47) “GROW BIG PEOPLE”
“If Martians descended……and demanded that we take them to our leaders, we would have to think twice about where we take them.” Business Weekly
When God has a great task to be performed, He looks for a person who has been prepared for such a moment, who has been tested and approved, in order to be entrusted with a great calling.
Consequently, our greatest priority is to grow and empower people just like Jesus did. To do so we must be intentional, equipped and equipping, and creating a culture that inspires ordinary people to become extraordinary people.
Paul Scanlon said, “When people grow, everything attached to them grows. But when we try to grow the activities attached to people, but neglect to grow the people, we finish up with small people trying to handle and grow big things. This results in getting people who are burnt out and exhausted and resentful. These people are then involved in constant changes of roles because they have been trying to do things of which they are not capable.”
Our greatest asset is not buildings and finances and programs. It is always going to be people, big people. That is why I am committed to Equipping The Next Generation and have a leadership training course called Growing Big People and a regular resource called EQUIP. Could this year be the year of Growing Big People?
Everybody leaves behind a legacy, a few people leave behind a legacy worth talking about.
One of the greatest joys in my life, in my senior years, is when I am in conversation with one of my daughters and they are led to say, “That is what Dentons do, Dad.” And in the process, they have drawn attention to something they have done that has revealed a quality of great character that has required courage and integrity and compassion and even involved a price to pay.
And Sue and I take great comfort as they are in effect saying, “This is part of the legacy you have passed on to us.”
So how do you build a legacy or value that you can pass on to the next generation? I suggest the following:
* You must choose it.
* You must live it out intentionally every day.
* It has something to do with the way God has shaped you. Much of my legacy (Rod) has to do with the equipping of leaders and much of my legacy (Sue) has to do with adding value to people.
* You don’t wait for your funeral for others to come guessing what your legacy might have been.
* Great legacies are built over a lifetime.
Interestingly, three years ago God led us to our current house which will probably be our final place of residence…….
and it’s in Legacy Crescent.