Connecting People to Purpose, Part 1 – Jim Graff

Connecting People to Purpose, Part 1 – Jim Graff

Connecting people to purpose involves more than finding good membership curriculums and leadership classes. Those are vital, but there’s also a spiritual dynamic that’s vital if we’re going to create a culture where, on a continual basis, people come to Christ in our churches, grow into great disciples, and then develop into leaders who can disciple others. 

Consider the perspective Jesus developed in the people that He led. In John 14:12, He looked at His disciples right before going to the cross and said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” 

Wow. Can we agree that no one’s ever done the work of the Father better than Jesus? He had the Holy Spirit without measure. Yet Jesus said, “They will do even greater things.” How do we develop within our people the ability to do God’s work to an even greater degree? 

God loves astonishing the world through what He does. And He has given us as pastors the opportunity to shepherd the kind of courage and competence in and through our churches that He will use to astonish our communities.  

There are three things that we need to excel at if we are to lead others to do the “greater things,” and I want to dive into how Jesus developed the courage and the capacity in the hearts of His followers to do what He did. What did He do that caused them to be such transformers of the world? We can see clearly in Matthew 9:35-36, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

That passage so stirred my soul as I read it this week and I thought about what God’s getting ready to do through pastors and through churches He’s raised up all over the world. If shepherds and teams develop the same capacity Jesus developed in His followers, something very beautiful is going to happen. It’s why Jesus requested this of His disciples in verses 37 and 38, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are too few.  Ask the Lord of the Harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his Harvest field.”

Now, I want you to notice first that Jesus wasn’t a pessimist. He believed something great could happen in every underserved community of the world. But He wasn’t pollyannish either. He knew that capacity, compassion and courage for those places had to be developed in the hearts of followers before things were going to see change. The same thing is true regarding the calling that God has placed on our hearts and the hearts of the people in our church.   

I remember when I began ministry in my early 20s, a tired pastor took the weekend off to be refreshed and he let me teach in his church. Afterwards, his number two man took me to lunch and asked me to tell him what God’s dream was for my life. I described something similar to what I’m doing today, to which this man replied, “That’s a big vision for someone I just heard preached the message you did!” And you know what? He was right. I needed some help. This man had the ministry of discouragement. That’s a gift that sees what’s wrong, but it doesn’t know how to fix anything. There are no rewards in heaven for that, but what happens when somebody with the gift Jesus had steps into people’s lives? Three things happen, actually:

First of all, Jesus helps us believe what we would never believe about ourselves when we think about what we’ve been through and where things are. 

Next, Jesus develops a competence within us that causes us to do what we could have never done if He wanted to work with us.

Finally, He wants us to stop being self-focused and have compassion so that we do the work He wants done, not just the work that we would do if we had our own way.

But how do we get people to this place of competence and compassion and courage? Check back next time for a template that Christ gave us that will cause you to raise disciples up who will change the world, starting with your local community.