Tag Archives: Andy Stanley

Who Are You Cheating?

These are the notes I am teaching from tomorrow in Sunday School Class.  Come join us in the Couples For Christ Class at Trinity UMC in Huntsville, AL.

Reference:

Andy Stanley. Choosing to Cheat. Multnomah Books 2003.

Gather:

·         Come up with a working definition of “cheating”.

·         Do you work to support your family or your ego? Perhaps some of both?

o   Has your focus shifted with time? If so, how?

o   Are you prone to leverage the pressures and responsibilities of work as an excuse to spend more time there?

o   If you knew you were going to fail either at home or at work, where would you choose to fail? Would your spouse agree with the way you answered that question?

Warm up:

Everybody Cheats

 

The tension we feel between work and family is complicated by the fact that most of us love what we do at work and we love being with our families at home.  On top of that, both are ordained by God!  Who gets top billing?

 

Work:

·         We typically have more to do than we can ever hope of getting done.

·         There are always loose ends

o   Phone calls and emails that didn’t get returned

o   Meetings that were cut short or skipped

o   People that deserved and didn’t get my undivided attention

·         If you stayed at work until everything was finished…if you took advantage of every opportunity that came your way…if you sought out every angle to maximize your abilities,  improve your skills, and advance your career…Would you ever leave work?

 

Family:

·         Have your kids ever looked at you and said, “Hey Dad, We’ve played enough.  Why don’t you go back in the house and see if you can get some work done.”?

·         Has your spouse ever complained about you coming home early?

·         If you stayed at home until every ounce of affection was poured out in all the appropriate places…if you kept giving until every emotional need was met (every love tank filled)…if you did every chore, finished the honey-do list, and did everything necessary to ensure that everyone felt loved…Would you ever leave home?

 

Creating a healthy family environment is difficult because of the inherent selfishness of each family member.  Creating a successful career is difficult because of the competition in the market place.  Either one of these environments or the struggles related to both could consume our undivided attention.  We don’t have the luxury of allocating all of time to one or the other. So, we are forced to wrestle with the conflict.

Our knee-jerk reaction to this dilemma is to answer the call of the squeakiest wheel.  We run from fire to fire, troubleshooting our way through life, rescuing the needy and rewarding those who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.  Over time, our families learn that the only way to get our attention is to create a crisis.

Heavy Lifting:

 

Role of Work vs. Role of Family    

 

Role of Work: (Discussed in Lesson #1 of this series.) 

·         Refer to Genesis 2:15.  God created us to work!  Before there was a family to support, God put Adam to work.

·         Today, men and women get up at the crack of dawn to plow their vocational fields in order to produce a crop.

·         Work is task-focused. 

·         We tend to find our worth through accomplishment.

·         Rewards are tangible, progress is measurable, accolades are notable

 

Role of Family:

·         The family is relationship focused.

·         We find our value simply by who our relatives are.

·         Family is about “be-ing”

·         Rewards are intangible, progress is subtle, seldom given accolades

 

At work, I am expected to show up and produce.  My family is just happy if I just show up.

 

Taking your task oriented focus into the home causes things to fall apart.  Can you “fix” your family? Can you “fix” your marriage? Can you “fix” your kids?

 

You do your job.  You love your family.  If when we reverse the order that the tension escalates and the tug-of-war begins.

 

How many of us have taken the “good intention alibi” into the spiritual realm?  Do you strike a deal with God and pray the following prayer when you get extra busy or are having to travel a lot?

 

Lord, you know my heart.  You know how badly I want to spend more time with my family.  So while I’m away, please watch over and protect them.  Please fill the void that I have left while I am away.  Lord, You understand my love for them; help them to understand as well.

 

If you are expecting God to do you job for you while you do a job for somebody else, you have made an arrangement with God.  What is wrong with that?

 

1.      We are assuming that God could not just as easily fill the void at work as He could the void at home.

2.      We are asking God to fill a gap that only we can fill while we scurry off to do a job that a thousand other people could do.

 

We might as well pray

 

Dear God, You do what only I can do while I go do what many others could do just as well or better.

                                    

As a counselor, Andy Stanley states that he has never talked to an adult who reported that while growing up his father worked all the time, but God filled the gaps and there was no residual relational or emotional damage.  He has never talked to a mom who reported that her husband neglected his family for the sake of his career, but fortunately God filled in the void, and everything was fine?

 

If we can’t expect God to cover for us in a way that protects our families from the residual effects of our misprioritization, then what are we to do?

 

The answer is simple.  But it is simple in the way that telling a smoker the solution to their addiction is to stop smoking.

 

Cool down: 

 

Holding the Rock

 

Everybody is willing to be “understanding” when a loved one needs to cheat a little.  Why do they accept it? Easy, because they love us.

 

(Parable)

 

Your mental willingness was overcome by your physical and emotional exhaustion.

 

·         When we ask our husbands and wives to carry our load as well as theirs, it is like handing them the rock.

·         When we are absent at critical junctures in family life, they are left holding the rock.

·         When we find ourselves pointing to the future to somehow make up for the past and present, they are holding the rock.

·         When we assure our families that things are going to change and they don’t, they are holding the rock.

 

When the rock drops, it usually shatters into a million pieces.  The grip on the rock usually fails on something that seems to trivial.

 

What does your family want from you more than anything else?  Love, you say.  Yes, but it goes deeper than that.  They want to feel like they are your priority.

 

The problem is, you love your family in your heart, but you don’t love them in your schedule.  And they can’t see your heart.

 

Our family’s willingness to hold the rock for us is born out of their desire to please us. Part of their reason for wanting to please us is that in pleasing us they hope to gain what they value most, our acceptance.

Whenever you compromise – or cheat – the interests of a family member in order to fill gaps somewhere else, you shuffle your priorities.  Loyalty that was intended for a loved one gets displaced and given to someone else.  However small, it increases the emotional load they must carry.  It may not seem like a big deal.  But it sends the message: You’re important…but right now something else is more important.  When we take advantage of their willingness to support our dysfunctional schedules and misprioritization, we send a message of rejection.

 

And our actions speak louder than our intentions.

 

Assignment

 

This week try both of the following:

·         Spend intentional time with your spouse.  Really inquire about them and what they think. Taking time to figure a woman out makes her feel valued.  (Guys, this is why girls love the book/movie Twilight).  Ask your spouse if you (collective) are ok?  Ask if they feel like they are hold a rock in certain areas.  Be honest and explore this.

·         While tucking your kids into bed, as the following series of questions:

o   Is everything okay in your heart?

o   Did anyone hurt your feelings today?

o   Are you mad at anyone?

o   Did anyone break a promise to you?

o   Is there anything I can do for you?

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The Boss

These are the notes I will be using for the Sunday School Lesson tomorrow.  I am doing a four part series on When Work and Family Collide.  I am feeling pretty convicted on this subject right now since I am traveling a lot and missing some of the things going on at home.

References:

Andy Stanley, Northpoint Podcast “Taking Care of Business, Part 1: Meet the Boss”

Andy Stanley, Choosing to Cheat – Who Wins When Family and Work Collide?. Multnomah Books.  2003.

 

Gather:

·         Describe your first job.

·         Describe the worst job you ever had – what made it “that bad”?

·         Describe the best job you ever had – what made it “that good”?

Warm up:

·         How do we view work?  What are the important elements of your “job”?

 

·         How does God view work?  (Genesis 2:8,15)

o   Work for man was not a product of The Fall.  It existed prior to The Fall.

o   When God had everything perfect, 1st thing he did for man was put him to work.

o   When earth was perfect, mankind (the image of God) was working – as a gardener.

o   God loves it when we work!

 

We tend to place more emphasis on the “where” and “how much” aspects, while God just wants to see us work – where we are, whatever you do.

 

Heavy Lifting:

 

Paul addresses work in his letter to the Colossians (Colossians 3:22-4:1).

 

·         Who does God address first?  —–Slaves

o   Colossians 3:22 – “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”

o   Basically tells the slaves to be the best slave you can possibly be and work as if they are working for the Lord.

·         Who does God address last?  —–Masters

o   Colossians 4:1 – “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven”

o   Basically tells the Masters to be fair and good to their slaves because they too have a Master over them.

·         In between these two, he addresses us.  In reality, aren’t we all somewhere between Masters and Slaves in our jobs?

o   Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart”

§  “Whatever” is significant.  It means what you are doing right now – not your dream job, not when you get to start your own business, not after that promotion you think you deserve, not once I get to leave my job and work in the home raising my kids.

§  We want to raise our hands and ask for a pass – Look at what I do, God?  “All my heart”?  Come on, All I do is ______.  The people above me don’t put their heart into it, why should I? 

o   Colossians 3:23 continued – “As working for the Lord, not for man”

§  What does “working for [the] man” look like?

·         Do as little as you can to get by, unless someone is watching.

·         Appear to be very busy, even if you aren’t.

·         Appear to be indispensible to the company, even if you are not.

·         Take credit for as many ideas as you can.

·         Jockey for position.

·         Look at employer as source of income and source of security.

§  This verse gives us a new standard – Do it as if you were working for God.  You are working for a big Boss in heaven, not for [the] man.

o   Colossians 3:24 – “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward”

§  Paul pulls us into a broader context.  As Christians, you will give an account for every single part of your life to the Lord.  We are rewarded for all parts.  We want to say, “I will put my whole heart into my family, worship, friendships, … but work?  All I do is ______.”

§  God does not compartmentalize!

§  In heaven (when God makes all things perfect again – like it was in Eden) we will have jobs.  We will work.

§  God is interested in our work.  He wants to know who the faithful workers are that can be trusted with greater accountability later on.

§  WHAT YOU DO IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS HOW YOU DO IT!

·         We focus on what and where

·         God focuses on how and your diligence.

o   Colossians 3:24 continued – “It is the Lord Christ you are serving”

§  Pretty blunt for those that haven’t understood the message yet.

§  We serve Christ in the job market, career, homemaking, WHATEVER.

 

Cool down:  4 Statements –

 

1.      Your work has eternal implications even if it appears it doesn’t have any eternal significant.

·         Everything has eternal significant – even though your “product” does determine eternity.

·         If I were a doctor, pastor, missionary, … 

·         God loves to see you work.

 

2.      How you perform at work is as important as where you work.

·         This should be a very liberating statement.  Is it?

·         We are all focused on the “where” – we all have friends with better jobs, higher paying jobs, … the grass is always greener.

·         God doesn’t mind you asking for a better job, but what about NOW.

 

3.      How you perform at work is as important as how you behave.

·         Have you ever run into the person at work that prides themselves on the Christianity they display, but at the same time feel like it’s ok to be a slacker.

·         Poor workmanship is never balanced out by good character.

·         “God doesn’t care about the secular world or the market place” – Yes, He does!

4.      Putting your heart into your work allows God to bless your work.

·         God does not bless disobedience.

·         God won’t give you success in areas that you are clearly violating His command.

o   Bless my marriage – Are you following the commands for marriage in the Bible?

o   Bless my finances – Are you stewarding your money according to the principles in the Bible?

o   Bless my family – Are you raising your family according to biblical standards?

o   Bless my work – When you do your job with your whole heart, as if unto the Lord, you make yourself blessable.

·         You can’t got to a job where you give half effort, ask God for something better, and expect Him to respond.

·         Invite God into the areas that you want blessed.  Think you will see a difference in the way you operate in those areas if you truly invite God in?

 

Assignment:

 

For one day this week, show up to work and work at it will all your heart, as if working for the Lord.      

 

Think through what this looks like:

·         When would you arrive?

·         How quickly would you respond?

·         How long is lunch?

·         Where would you go?

·         What does break time look like?

·         etc.

 

Try it and be ready to discuss it next week.

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Louder Than Words

These are the notes for the lesson I taught in Sunday School this morning.  The class is a group of 30-40 year olds.  Most of us are married and have young kids.  We are starting to ascend to leadership positions in the organizations where we work and volunteer.  The resources for the lesson are

1.      Andy Stanley’s opening talk at Catalyst 2008 titled “Louder Than Words”

2.      Visioneering by Andy Stanley

3.      Shane Claiborne’s talk at The 2008 National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville, TN. Gen. Session #2

Arrival: (Divide into small groups of about 5 people)

1. Everyone in the small group needs to name at least one leader that they respect

2. List the qualities of the named leaders that make them worth following (come up with at least five).

3. Describe a time when you were in a group that was lead by a “leader by position only, but did not have any authority.”

4. Everyone in the small group needs to name at least one leader that lost their respect (personally or on the National stage).

5. What was it about their “action” that caused you to stop following them?

Warmup: (Discuss in same small groups)

Read Luke 7:18-23 (NIV)

18John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

 20When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ “

 21At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

1. How does Jesus respond to the question from John’s disciples?

2. Can you respond the same way that Jesus responded if someone at work, or wherever your position of authority is, were to come ask “Are you the one who is to manage us, or should we expect someone else?”

3. Could we respond the same way if someone asked us “Are you a Christian?”

Notice that Jesus didn’t highlight all of his major accomplishments we typically do in an annual review with our boss.  He didn’t say “I fed over 5000 people with only 2 loafs of bread and five fish” or “I spit in some dirt and wiped it on this blind guys face and now he sees”.  He simply responded with “Take a look around and tell him what you have seen.”  His actions spoke louder than words.

Exercise: (Come back together and work as a large group)

Read Nehemiah 5:1-13 (The Message)

1-2A great protest was mounted by the people, including the wives, against their fellow Jews. Some said, “We have big families, and we need food just to survive.”

 3 Others said, “We’re having to mortgage our fields and vineyards and homes to get enough grain to keep from starving.”

 4-5 And others said, “We’re having to borrow money to pay the royal tax on our fields and vineyards. Look: We’re the same flesh and blood as our brothers here; our children are just as good as theirs. Yet here we are having to sell our children off as slaves-some of our daughters have already been sold-and we can’t do anything about it because our fields and vineyards are owned by somebody else.”

 6-7 I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. After thinking it over, I called the nobles and officials on the carpet. I said, “Each one of you is gouging his brother.”

 7-8 Then I called a big meeting to deal with them. I told them, “We did everything we could to buy back our Jewish brothers who had to sell themselves as slaves to foreigners. And now you’re selling these same brothers back into debt slavery! Does that mean that we have to buy them back again?”

    They said nothing. What could they say?

 9 “What you’re doing is wrong. Is there no fear of God left in you? Don’t you care what the nations around here, our enemies, think of you?

 10-11 “I and my brothers and the people working for me have also loaned them money. But this gouging them with interest has to stop. Give them back their foreclosed fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes right now. And forgive your claims on their money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.”

 12-13 They said, “We’ll give it all back. We won’t make any more demands on them. We’ll do everything you say.”

    Then I called the priests together and made them promise to keep their word. Then I emptied my pockets, turning them inside out, and said, “So may God empty the pockets and house of everyone who doesn’t keep this promise-turned inside out and emptied.”

    Everyone gave a wholehearted “Yes, we’ll do it!” and praised God. And the people did what they promised.

Do people really act like this?  It sounds like a “Bible story” – “Thus saith the Lord, and the people obeyed….” How could Nehemiah command this much respect from his people with just one conversation?

Let’s look at the context of this passage?

  • Nehemiah was the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes, Babylonian King, and he had a vision to go rebuild the wall in the place where his father is buried (Jerusalem).
  • He travels to Jerusalem and finds the Hebrew people and the town of Jerusalem a total mess.
  • The Hebrew were people in high debt to the Gentiles.
  • Nehemiah assumes all of the debt of the Hebrew people. They are now financially free.
  • Most of the Hebrew people don’t know how to manage their resources, so they get right back into trouble.
  • This time the wealthy Hebrew people start loaning with high interest (Lowell Baron style) to this same group.
  • This is against Mosaic Law – Nehemiah gets very angry – and the story picks up at 5:1.
  • The Hebrew people had to work the fields during the day, and after work they worked with Nehemiah on the wall.

 Let’s continue on in the story…

 Nehemiah 5:14-18 (The Message)

14-16 From the time King Artaxerxes appointed me as their governor in the land of Judah-from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of his reign, twelve years-neither I nor my brothers used the governor’s food allowance. Governors who had preceded me had oppressed the people by taxing them forty shekels of silver (about a pound) a day for food and wine while their underlings bullied the people unmercifully. But out of fear of God I did none of that. I had work to do; I worked on this wall. All my men were on the job to do the work. We didn’t have time to line our own pockets.

 17-18 I fed 150 Jews and officials at my table in addition to those who showed up from the surrounding nations. One ox, six choice sheep, and some chickens were prepared for me daily, and every ten days a large supply of wine was delivered. Even so, I didn’t use the food allowance provided for the governor-the people had it hard enough as it was.

19 Remember in my favor, O my God, everything I’ve done for these people.

This is why the people listened to Nehemiah:

  • He didn’t take what was owed to him – he sacrificially gave himself to the vision.
  • He didn’t leverage his position.
  • He lived with alignment of creed and deed.
  • He knew their work on the wall was a sacrifice, so he sacrificed equivalently.
  • He didn’t ask them to do anything he, himself, wouldn’t do.

Cool Down: (Large Group)

Nobody cares how smart you are as a leader – Do they believe that you believe in what it is that you are asking them to do.

How would you feel if your boss paid you more than what they were paying themselves because they knew they needed you to get the job done?  Would you follow this leader?

Christ lived with perfect alignment of Creed and Deed.  He didn’t have to present a resume of polished activities to prove who He was.  All he had to say was “Go back and tell John what you have seen”. 

Are you living louder than words? 

Are you living with alignment of your creed and your deed?

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What is Expected of Us as a Community of Faith?

(These are the notes for the discussion in the Couples For Christ Sunday School Class tomorrow)

 

Drinks:

What does a healthy faith community look like?

 

 

What does our class do right in terms of helping to create community?

 

 

Where do we fall short?

 

 

In my opinion there are two different areas we need to examine with regards to the expectations of our Faith Community: Inward tending to one another’s needs, and Outward serving the needs of the community.  What are the differences?  How do these two functional areas work together?

 

 

 

Appetizer:

(From Andy Stanley’s article “Divine Community” in the Catalyst Groupzine vol. 4.: Intentional About Community)

It is sometimes said that when someone faces death, one’s conversations reveal his or her deepest passions, hopes and dreams.  That’s why we go out of our way to honor dying wishes.  In His final hours, Jesus gives us clues to His chief concerns.  What does John 17:20-22 reveal about Christ’s wishes/desires for us?

 

So that they may be one as we are one.

 

The significant of this statement cannot be overstated.  Jesus is praying that His disciples – the men who for three years had disappointed Him and misunderstood Him and would ultimately abandon Him (in other words, human beings like you and me) – would experience something amazing.  He prayed that they would experience the same quality of relationship with each other that Jesus experienced as part of the Trinity since before the beginning of time.

 

What does relationship amongst the Trinity look like?

 

Enjoying each other (Genesis 1:26)

Encouraging each other (Matthew 3:17)

Supporting each other (John 14:25)

Loving one another (Mark 9:7)

Deferring to one another (John 14:10)

Glorifying one another (John 17:1)          

We all need community.  We are a society living in isolation seldom enjoying the benefits of meaningful relationships.  We live around a lot of people, but most of us have chosen to do life alone.  This is certainly not what God has in mind.  We were created by a relational God with relational needs for connection – significant connection.

 

 

Main Course:

(Summarized from Matt Chandler Podcast of The Village Church titled, “Village Core Values: What is Community?” 4/27/2008)

 

Nobody gets hit by the gospel and just stays where they are – It’s moving and creating, and It’s different for everyone.  Once your heart is awaken to the reality of Jesus Christ, you begin Progressive Sanctification, which is growth into Him or spiritual growth in body, intellect, worship, and missions.

 

Progressive sanctification is a process that can only take place in the confines of deep relationship.  There is nowhere in scripture when it comes to sanctification and growth into the fullness of Christ where words were spoken to individuals removed from the communal aspect of our faith.  For example,

·         Opening to all of the letters in the New Testament – To the Saints in Galatia, Saints in Ephasis, Philippi, etc.

·         2 Corinthians (1:3-4) – Why does God comfort us?  So that we can comfort others.  – Communal

·         1 Thessalonians (4:18) – Encourage each other… – Communal

·         1 Thessalonians (5:14) – Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. – Communal

·         Galatians (6:2) – Carry each other’s burdens…. – Communal

 

Discuss what a tremendous asset it is to have people who know you well enough to engage you at that level.

 

·         How well does it work to “warn those that are idle” if you don’t really know them?

·         How well does it work to try to hold someone accountable if you don’t have a deep relationship with them?

·         How well does it work to ask to carry someone’s burden’s when you don’t have a relationship of trust established?

·         How well does it work to try to grow yourself spiritually when the entire gospel message is inescapably communal?

 

Just because you attend a small group like our class does not mean that you have real Christian community.  Attending is really the easy part.  The next steps – opening up and being honest, caring for others, contributing, … This is where it starts to take intentional action, which can be messy?  Why?

We need to protect ourselves from being too shallow in our relationships.  For example,

 

·         When was the last time someone close to you invited you out for a drink to tell you that constantly jabbing and disrespecting your wife in public isn’t funny – and ask you what’s really going on.

·         When we the last time someone close to you said that maybe your other affiliations in life (college football, political parties, social clubs, etc) are dominating your conversations and thought processes and borderline on becoming toxic – and then remind you that you are a Christian first before ANYTHING else.

·         When was the last time someone close to you confronted you on devious behaviors that are taking you away from community, family, God? – We all have areas where darkness resides, but are all responsible to help each other grow in Him. 

 

This is the sticky and uncomfortable part of our relationship with each other.  We have to realize that this is not a game.  Back to John 17:21 – “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus is saying that the credibility of His life and message in the eyes of unbelievers  is dependent upon the way we as followers relate to one another.  Somehow their belief and our behavior are connected.  Do you feel the weight of this passage and our responsibilities as a Christian Community?

 

We have to realize that we are in a body.  When you cut off a finger (illustration relevant for shop teachers) it doesn’t continue to grow.  We have to be in community in order to grow in Him!

 

 

Dessert:

 

I like to think of Christian community as a large dinner party (something our class relates too very well).  Each person has their own gift and talent that is given by the same Holy Spirit.  Some like to cook, some like to clean up afterwards, some like to generate conversation, some like to open their houses to host, some like to pay for the drinks and meal, some like to bring the music, some like to take pictures of the event, some like to make sure everyone is having a good time, some like to move furniture in the hosts house (inside joke).  When we combine our talents and live in community – really live in community and push each other toward progressive sanctification – you can feel the dynamo that is Christ.  I hope we continue to encourage each other AND confront each other. 

 

As Andy Stanley says at the end of his article, “I take comfort in the fact that community is God’s idea.  That means He will assume the lion’s share of the responsibility for making His dream come true.  We have to be willing to partner with Him to make His dream your reality and a reality for many others as well.”

 

Grace and Peace!

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