Growing a church starts with growing yourself

You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. | by Rob Carman

None of us live from the outside in but from the inside out. That being the case, we need to continually be aware of three things.

SEE YOURSELF

Why do you need to “see” yourself? Because you cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. From the friends we choose and the spouse we marry, to the occupation we select and the cloths we wear—all come from the way we see ourselves. “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2).

One of the greatest questions ever asked was in the Garden when God questioned Adam after he sinned. “Who told you that you were naked” (Genesis 3:11)?

“Who told you?”

The one thing that every person has in common, regardless of race, religion, or upbringing, is that we all live our lives out of a narrative, a story. That story has been formed through family, friends, teachers, and experiences both good and bad. All of these have formed and continue to form our narrative of life. God’s word comes to us as a story, the story of redemption. When His story challenges our story, transformation happens.

A great example is the story of Dr. Ben Carson. His mother Sonia gave birth to him at age 13. Two years later his brother Curtis was born. Living in Detroit and raising two boys in the 1960s, Sonia had little hope for much of a future. Statistically, her two sons would either end up in gangs or prison. Being told by their teachers that the boys were failing, Sonia prayed and the God that sees the end from the beginning impressed a thought upon her mind.

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“Boys,” she said, “you will go each day to the school library and read two books a week, write a report and give it to me.” They did. This is what happened. Several weeks later when young Ben was sitting in his science class, the teacher asked a question. Ben raised his hand. In fact, he was the only one that did. His teacher couldn’t believe it. Up until that time, all Ben knew was failure. Called upon for his response, Ben gave a perfect textbook answer. The reason? He had just read a book on that subject that week. Ben Carson later said, “It was at that moment, that exact moment, that I knew one thing. God made me smart.” He went on to become one of the greatest neurosurgeons in the world. Why? The narrative of his life changed.

As we see ourselves through God’s eyes, the picture of us changes and as it does, so do we.

FREE YOURSELF

We need to become free ourselves in order for our parishioners to be freed.

There’s an old legend of an American Indian tribe. For a young boy to enter manhood, he had to climb to the top of a mountain with no assistance in the dead of winter. This young sixteen-year-old Indian started his journey, climbing and climbing. The higher he got, the colder it became. Wrapped only with the skin of an animal, he continued his ascent until he reached the summit.

“At last,” he exclaimed, “I’m a man!” But just then a large snake appeared and said to him, “Pick me up, wrap me around your body and take me to the valley so I can live.” The young Indian said, “No, if I pick you up, you’ll bite me and poison me.” The snake responded, “No, I promise you I won’t bite you and poison you.”

The boy did as asked and brought the snake down the mountain into the warmth of the valley. As the snake felt the heat of the sun, he turned instantly and bit the boy, sinking his large fangs into his leg.

Shocked, the boy said, “You promised me you wouldn’t bite me.” The snake replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

All sin promises to serve but instead it enslaves. The people in the pulpit are targets of the enemy as much as the people in the pew. Don’t go to that website. Don’t watch that. Don’t pick it up!

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BE YOURSELF

Being ourselves is perhaps one thing that we all struggle with. It’s easy to compare ourselves with others, but what we have to remember is all comparisons are inaccurate.

I love the story found in Matthew of the talents (chapter twenty-five). One man was given five, the other two, and the third, one. They were each told to do something with the talents given them. Upon the return of their boss, the one with five had made it ten, the one with two now had four, but the one with one had taken his and buried it. The question is “Why?”

Depending on what you read, you’ll find a lot of great answers, but the one that has helped me the most is this: the reason he buried his talent is the same reason we do. In the man’s mind, the one talent was too small to capture his attention. And the lesson is what we have is never too small if we just stop comparing it to others and start using it.

When facing any obstacle or situation in your church, remember this: you have enough. You might not think you do but you do.

Before Jesus fed the five thousand, he asked his men, “What do you have?” Their response, “Five loaves and two fish.”

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In our church, if we had waited until we had it all, we would have never started. But we always had enough to get started. As we used what we had, it grew, not only in us but through us to others. We can say they had enough to get started. My experience for over forty years of ministry is that we never have enough—we only have enough to get started.

CGM

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