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Graham Henry: Pass the Ball

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Timothy 2:2

This is the second in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“Pass the ball. “The management always felt,” says Graham Henry, “that they had to transfer the leadership from senior management members to the players…they play the game and they have to do the leading on the field. The traditional “you and them” became “us”…

The structure of the working week epitomizes this management model: the Sunday evening review meetings are facilitated by the coaches, though significant input comes from the on-field leadership. Then over the course of the week, you see a gradual handing over of responsibility and decision-making.

By Thursday, the priorities, intensity levels, and other aspects are all ‘owned’ by the players. By the time they play on Saturday the players have taken over the asylum. ‘I’m just a resource,’ says Henry…Shared responsibility means shared ownership. A sense of inclusion means individuals are more willing to give themselves to a common cause.”

Graham Henry as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 49.

This idea relates to anyone involved in ministry. We must not simply carry the ball, but “pass the ball” so that a larger group of people share the responsibility for advancing the cause of Christ.

The Apostle Paul spoke of this when he urged us to “entrust to reliable people” the teachings of Jesus and the work of the gospel. Our tendency is to want to carry the ball, but to go farther we must share the responsibility with others.

Today I will “pass the ball” in a manner of speaking. I will hire Ruthie Cristobal to serve as VP of Partnership & Communications for Global Trust Partners and “pass the ball” to her to grow this area with her skills and abilities.

Praise God with me for her willingness to give herself to this purpose with me: GTP multiplies disciples of faithful administration and mobilizes peer accountability groups to increase gospel participation in every nation.”

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Buckminster Fuller: Take Responsibility

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

“What is my job on the planet? What is it that needs doing, that I know something about, that probably won’t happen unless I take responsibility for it.”

Buckminster Fuller as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 13.

This is the first in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

This is fitting as the header photo features a rugby union pitch (playing field). Also, the saying “with you” that the Global Trust Partners board, staff, regional facilitators, and supporters say to one another to communicate that we are tracking together around the globe comes from rugby.

So, what’s your job? God designed us to work for Him. Part of our giving is actually taking. We must take responsibility to do the good work that God made us to do. Jenni and I are teaching today. We love teaching. We will train the Compassion Philippines staff, about 100 people, on governance.

The ECFA Press book I co-authored with The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance is now being printed and distributed in the Philippines by CCTA (the official partner in accountability with ECFA in the Philippines). Pray for a great day of Spirit-filled teaching and receptive hearts.

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Henri Nouwen: Solitude

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

“A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center, easily becomes destructive. When we cling to the results of our actions as our only way of self-identification, then we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we share the gifts of life.

In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of Him who spoke to us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved its long before we could give love to anyone.

It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more that the result of our efforts. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It’s there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received.

In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.”

Henri Nouwen in Out of Solitude as recounted in The Dance of Life, edited by Michael Ford (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 2005) 102-103.

When I fly, like today over the Pacific to Manila, I enjoy solitude with God. When do you enjoy solitude? Jesus got away to be alone with the Father and we should too. It’s a gift.

Solitude helps us make sure that that our doing, knowing, and being are balanced and helps us possess things rightly as gifts. Only when these traits are kept in perspective can be generous.

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Rob Martin: Truth and Transparency

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

“I am reminded of Paul’s use of the word truth here, especially as it relates to love and giving. There is nothing that can get muddied quicker than the truth when it comes to the transactional nature of giving and receiving. We use the word gift, but in truth we often view the money as flowing into a contracted situation in which results are promised. The balancing act here is to view the gift as the result of a true partnership built on transparency with unity that strives for transformation and honors the communion of giving and receiving.”

Rob Martin in When Money Goes On Mission: Fundraising and Giving in the 21st Century (Chicago: Moody, 2018) 269-270.

This is a great book that I endorsed and commend to anyone who wants to integrate their faith and fundraising. Check it out on Amazon. It contains a unique combination of wit and wisdom. Martin is a master storyteller.

Think for another minute about the importance of truth and transparency. Without these two working together, we will not see generosity flow. The partnership between givers and receivers breaks down.

What is the ingredient that fuels truth and transparency? It’s love. Love motivates us to protect truth, to preserve hope, and to guard trust. With love, we uphold truth and transparency so as to encourage generous giving and receiving.

This explains why I serve with Global Trust Partners. We multiply disciples of faithful administration and mobilize peer accountability groups like ECFA that champion truth and transparency to increase gospel participation.

Today I am heading to the Philippines with my wife, Jenni. There we will speak truth with love in many settings in Manila while also encouraging the ongoing work of CCTA (Christian Council for Transparency and Accountability) there.

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John Cortines: Displace our indifference

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

“We shouldn’t give to things because we care about them deeply. Rather, we should give to things because God cares about them deeply. Giving often starts as an obedient step of faith before it blossoms into joyful love over time…

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He meant that wherever we send our money, our feelings and emotions will eventually go there, too. If we send money toward the things God cares about, our hearts will start to look more like God’s…

For example, I never really cared about modern-day slavery until I began giving to International Justice Mission. Slowly, over time, I began to yearn for freedom for everyone in captivity. I never cared much about children trapped in poverty until I began giving to Compassion International. Slowly, over time, I began to ache for every child in need to be fed, educated, and taught about Jesus. And I never cared much about people who didn’t have the Bible until I sponsored a Bible translation project through the Seed Company. Now I have a deeper passion that all people on earth would be able to read Scripture in their native language.

My heart was often cold and indifferent to others. But giving is like a seed planted in the barren soil of indifference. If we plant in faith, love will begin to grow and will displace our indifference. How do we obtain the true riches of love? We give in faith, asking God to reshape our hearts in the process.”

John Cortines in “Generosity: It is an investment in the love of God for us and for others” in Devotionals Daily email dated 8 June 2019.

Special thanks to Daily Meditations reader and friend, Scott Bailey, for sharing this with me. John serves as COO for Generous Giving and recently co-authored True Riches: What Jesus Really Said about Money and Your Heart.

Today’s post reveals one aspect of the inward transformation that happens when we give. It displaces our indifference. When we give the money God has entrusted to us to the things He cares about, our hearts care about those things. We go from not caring to caring. This caring shapes our hearts and transforms how we live, give, serve, and love.

Want your heart to look like God’s heart?

Follow John’s example. Give to a portfolio of things that God cares about starting with your local church and see what happens. Make a list of ministries and support them according to your ability. When you do, you store up treasures in heaven where they are free from market factors, and God grows your heart to look like His.

If you have limited means, don’t let that stop you. Perhaps, give a smaller amount to your list of organizations. Over time, ask God to grow your resources so you can increase your giving. And don’t just apply this idea to financial giving. This works with voluntary service too. Spend yourself like this, and it will also shape your heart to look like His.

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Roger Lam: Faulty Theology of Provision

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:13-14

“Although there is no shortage of good intentions from marketplace Christians to put their faith into practice during business hours, there is often much fear resulting in holding them back to fully implement God’s Word in their work environment.

Such fear stems from a faulty theology in provision, which coincidently also underpins another important spiritual discipline – stewardship. In a nutshell, it has to do with how we manifest our role as stewards and not owners of whatever resources that God has placed in our hands including wealth which he has enabled us to generate.

Let’s be absolutely clear about this: if you incorrectly view your ultimate source of provision as anyone or anything apart from Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides, you are going to be afraid of not having enough or running out (of money in particular) and therefore you will hold back.

Holding back can take many forms. It can stop you from being generous with your time, talent, and treasure (thereby hampering your stewardship); it can also stop you from “taking risk” in living out biblical teaching and calling at your workplace in fear of tilting the apple cart of income provision.”

Roger Lam in “The Common Foundation Between Effective Marketplace Ministry and Good Stewardship” in FBG Gatekeepers: Doing Business With Purpose. Roger is author of Lost and Found: Money vs. Riches, a must-read book if you have not already read it.

Whether you are faith-driven entrepreneur, a marketplace worker, or business owner, you have to get the source of provision right. If you don’t, you won’t integrate your faith and work with any effectiveness, and fear will dominate your decision-making.

As Abraham testified in today’s Scripture, it is the LORD who provides, and not us. Those who grasp this allow faith to guide their life. It gives them confidence. Our marketplace ministry syncs with our stewardship when we see all provision as coming to us from God, as belonging to God, and to be used for God.

For example, if we generate wealth, we put it to work wisely when we give to God, care for our family, and use it grow a business as a worker for God. But, if we ever view that wealth as ours or think of ourselves as the provider, it will allow fear rather than faith to dominate our thinking and actions. Fear leads people to hold on to wealth.

How do we know if we have a faulty view of provision?

This malady surfaces when we have feelings of fear, moments or worry, or when we fret about the future. This leads us to hold back, as Lam notes. We have learned that whatever we hold back actually takes hold of us, so don’t hold anything back.

When we hold back we not only put our marketplace ministry in jeopardy, we run the risk of exchanging the life of faith with a pathetic existence ruled by fear. That’s no way to live. The only responsible way forward is to think and work from a posture of trust in God as Provider.

I changed the header photo to a shot of a recent Rugby game I attended in Australia. It fits with today post because as marketplace ministers we must see ourselves as part of God’s team. My favorite Rugby expression “with you” signifies that we must run in sync with each other (and God) to help each other press on toward the goal.

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John Stanley: Latent Energy

But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7

“We need to find a way to release the latent energy trapped inside of each one of us to be generous. We are hard-wired to simply contribute to the well-being of another. We often think we are helping the most when we can write a check bigger than last year. What if we helped the least and acted on this hardwiring of contributing to the well-being of another? Spend yourself on others before spending your money on others.”

John Stanley in “Unleashing Latent Energy of Generosity” post by Generosity Gameplan on 4 June 2019.

By the time this posts I will have arrived safely home. On the night before leaving Sydney, I attended my first Rugby match with Peter and Edwina Murphy and Michael Blue. I thought about the “latent energy” of the fans. What if they stopped watching, but channeled their energy to the playing field, and started participating in the proverbial game.

As I get my feet back under me today, John’s paradoxical statement sticks with me. He always says that helping the most is often doing the least, the little things we were made to do every day. These little things contribute to the well-being of others. Then I love how this behavior comes into view as spending myself for others.

Do you have any “latent energy” to spend?

With John, I don’t mean money, but rather, love, strength, and giftedness. Picture yourself in the stands. Look on the field. What part has perhaps God equipped you to play? As followers of Jesus, we get to empty ourselves as He emptied himself. When we do, we don’t end up destitute but discover the joy of distributing spiritual blessings.

Use your latent energy today. Go spend yourself.

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Leon Morris: Scrupulously Careful

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me. 1 Corinthians 16:1-4

“Each one of you indicates that every believer, no matter how poor, would make a contribution… Paul does not indicate a definite amount or definite proportion of one’s income that is to be contributed… One’s giving should be in direct proportion to the way one prospers; it should be determined as a matter of principle, not something done on impulse… Paul wants no collections when he comes; he is not looking for a last-minute effort with emotional pressure… The time of the visit is uncertain… Paul should want letters to go with the bearers of the collection… These men are to be those approved… a technical term for ‘passing as fit for a public office’… Paul is scrupulously careful. He did not plan to touch the money at any time. The Corinthians would raise it, keep it till he came, and send it by their own approved messengers to its destination.”

Leon Morris in 1 Corinthians (TNTC; Nottingham: Tyndale, 1985) notes on 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.

Everyone should give in proportion to the level of God’s provision. That was important in the days of the Apostle Paul and the same measure to use today!

Equally vital is having people handle money who are credentialed or qualified for the task. The Apostle Paul was scrupulously careful and we must be as well.

As my trip Down Under wraps up, I am thankful God has raised up CMASC to accredit organizations for following standards of responsible stewardship here.

Or, in the words of Leon Morris, I’m glad CMASC urges ministries to be “scrupulously careful” because it’s God’s honor we must preserve together.

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Voltaire: Same religion

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24

“When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.”

Voltaire (1694-1778) as quoted in Pigeon Religion: Holy Spirit, Is That You?: Discerning Spiritual Manipulation by R.T. Kendall (Lake Mary: Charisma House, 2016) 73.

In one of his talks here in Australia, my colleague, Michael Blue, shared this quote attributed to Voltaire, the famous French atheist. He used it to shake and wake people to live differently from the world in relationship to money.

With this statement Voltaire basically proclaimed that everyone serves money. He was calling it like he saw it. If people looked at your life, would there be clear evidence to show that you serve God and not money?

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C. T. Studd: Gamblers for God

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. Psalm 19:9-10

“Last June at the mouth of the Congo there awaited a thousand prospectors, traders, merchants and gold seekers, waiting to rush into these regions as soon as the government opened the door to them, for rumour declared that there is an abundance of gold. If such men hear so loudly the call of gold and obey it, can it be that the ears of Christ’s soldiers are deaf to the call of God? Are gamblers for gold so many, and gamblers for God so few?”

C.T. Studd (1860-1931) in C.T. Studd: Cricketer and Pioneer by Norman Grubb (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2014) 127.

C.T. Studd was a famous cricketer. Michael Blue, with whom I am traveling in Australia, mentioned this quote in his closing plenary. Aussies love their cricket. Blue challenged us with Studd to be “gamblers for God” and to give our lives in service to Him.

Our reverence or fear of God should change how we live, what we live for, and how we give from all we are and all we have. Regardless of the work we do, let us be people who do it all not for the hope of gaining earthly gold, but for Christ’s service and glory.

The paradox is that gamblers for God gain, and gamblers for gold lose. Remember Solomon? He could have aimed for wealth but instead wanted wisdom, and with wisdom the wealth came with it. Go after the decrees of God, which are precious than gold and the rest will fall into place.

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