I have been involved in lifting weights since I was a teenager and I love it. But one of the very first things I was taught was when you are working out never lift heavy weights on your own. If you are going to shoot for a heavier weight or you are going to lift your max weight then you need someone there just in case you get stuck or can’t lift it. There has been time and time again where I have needed a lifting partner to help me. Just that little nudge, a yell of encouragement, or even the ability to grab the weight and rack it before I crushed my chest or blew out a knee. Everything that a lifting partner is taught to do when helping someone lift. Usually, when I was getting ready to lift the heavy weight I would find a good friend or a team-mate that I trusted and knew had the strength to lift what I was lifting. (I would pick a lineman who looked at what I was lifting and would laugh and say, “puny defensive back”.) Then I would get on the bench or I would get under the bar in the squat rack, get in position and begin lifting.
I tell you about this not because I am huge and all muscle but because I think we could use lifting partners every day of our life. Each and every one of us could experience powerful life change when we have life lifting partners. Just think about it your getting ready to make a big decision, call your lifting partner. You are getting ready to start a new job, call your lifting partner. You are struggling with an addiction, call your lifting partner. You are struggling in your marriage, call your lifting partner. Here is the problem most of us wouldn’t do that because we believe that we can handle the heavy lifting all on our own. We have been taught that we don’t need anyone else when things get tough. Except for when we are lifting heavy weights. (Why?) Here is a verse in the bible that I think sets the tone for what we need to do:
Galatians 6:2 (NLT) 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Why is that we can lay down on a bench and try to lift heavy weight and then realize it is too much and then go ask someone for help, but we won’t do it when our marriage is struggling. (Pride) We can step under a bar that has 45 lbs plate after 45 lbs plate on it straining against a squat rack barely lift it and say I can’t handle this at all, then go a lifting partner. But when our kids are having a really hard time we won’t say a thing. (E.G.O. – Edging out God)
Here is what I am suggesting today start to develop a relationship with some LIFE lifting partners. I guarantee that there are other guys just like you trying to lift and then carry some heavy burdens that could use your help. You see that is what is so amazing about when you get LIFE lifting partners it doesn’t become a one-sided relationship. There is give and take, there is the encouragement in the form of a pat on the back along with maybe a kick in the butt. You have another person or persons that you can call when the weight of the burden is just getting to be too much, so the can step in and help you lift and carry that burden.
So start by thinking about at least two or three other guys that you like to hang out with in your relationship circles. Then take a couple of weeks to pray about asking those guys to think about being lifting partners after you have explained to them what lifting partners could be for each other. Once you have asked them then take a couple of weeks for each of them to pray about the opportunity of being lifting partners. Then come together and talk some more about who is in and who is out, then plan the next time you are going to meet as LIFE lifting partners.
Now that you have some guys that are willing to be LIFE lifting partners just meet and talk about what you all hope to get out of being lifting partners. Then establish what will be your natural rhythms for when and where you are going to meet. You also want to let each other know that as you begin to share and pray for each other that whatever is shared with lifting partners stays with lifting partners. (Unless someone is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else.) Then ask each other how you can pray for each other, pray and enjoy the rest of your coffee, beer, or soda just hanging out. Then just continue to meet, talk, pray and hang out just a little reminder to take your time and not feel as if you have to go deep right away. Let the Holy Spirit guide your moments and let the time you spend together lead the conversations.
(This was written for men but it can very easily be used for women as well. The truth is that in my experience is that women already do this kind of relationship way better then we men do. But if this is something you can use by all means go for it. Too many people are spending their lives trying to carry their burdens all on their own.)
So while I was looking through my Facebook feed the other day this is a video that was posted by Larry Leith from Tokyo Joe’s. (By the way I love their food and I love the culture that they have created for their business.) It is a great little coffee shop that is located down in Colorado Springs just an hour from where we live here in Aurora. The whole idea of the video is that people would go and visit other coffee shops in the area because of the community that has embraced them and by doing so end up with a free drink at Loyal Coffee. They are calling it the “Dis-Loyality Card”! What an amazing idea!
Here is where this video took me though – the church community. Isn’t this what we should be doing as the church? Letting people know that the community of faith is here for each other and build a community that is for the city not just ourselves? I was recently a part of a conversation about two churches in a community coming together for an event that helps grow leadership for both the city and the communities of faith. It was going to be an exciting opportunity to see the KINGDOM of Jesus respond in a way that would be a huge influence in the city. Well unfortunately one of the churches was not willing to partner in this endeavor because the building where the event was being held was not good enough for their people. Are you serious? The building is the reason that these two churches couldn’t come together to make a difference in the city like never before?
What if we decided to have “Dis-Loyalty” Sundays where we encouraged the people of our churches to go and support another church in the community? What if we called them BIG KINGDOM Sunday’s and we showed support for the big kingdom of Jesus?
What do you think about the coffee shop idea? What do you think about the BIG KINGDOM Sunday idea?
Over the last 10 weeks I have been working with about 20 guys when it comes to our Spiritual Fitness Process at Elevation. It has been an amazing opportunity for these guys to get to know one another and for them to get to know what it means to be a follower of Jesus that makes followers of Jesus. So one of the recent weeks we began to talk about what is most important when it comes to helping people volunteer and work together as the church. It was a conversation that you could tell was creating energy in the room and was really starting to gain ground in each of the guys minds. So for me being a visual learner I started putting what they were talking about to a graph on the wipe board. (The Picture Above) When we were done this is what was fleshed out.
Now here is the thing. I believe that what we walked away writing out does not just pertain to a church community but to business as well. Here are the bullet points to the idea that we came up with:
- Most leaders are Baby Boomers or Gen X. so they are looking for tasks to be completed. Is the job getting done?
- Most Millennial’s or Generation Z (See this book.) would be looking for a relationship to happen with the person they are working with. Are we working together?
- So what we said was that if the job is not getting done, then the leader is going to get frustrated. If there is no relationship then the follower is going to get frustrated.
- The big idea for both to grow is that there is supposed to be talking/teaching while the tasks are being completed. (The idea: you watch, I do, we talk.)
- Then the leader and the follower grow and the opportunity for business or church growth happens as well.
What are your thoughts about the idea? What do you think is missing? Where do you feel the most frustration as a leader and as a follower?
So yesterday as I was heading to the airport with my wife and daughter to fly out to an event that I was going to speak at something caught my eye. We were sitting at an intersection that we always go through about three to four times a day and there was a man on the corner with a refrigerator. That’s right a refrigerator all by himself on a dolly. Then as we pulled up the light changed and he painstakingly hauled the refrigerator across the street to the other side, but when he got to the corner it got stuck. So he worked and worked the refrigerator up on the corner as all of the cars in the turn lane waited and honked. Then once he got it up on the corner sidewalk he paused caught his breath and then hauled the refrigerator down the street to some unknown destination.
As I watched this happen I was thinking first, how I could get out and help this guy with out getting run over and with out being late for my flight. Then the second thing that came to mind was why is there no one to help this guy to move this refrigerator? Why is he carrying so much of a load all on his own? I thought that it was really interesting to see this since this last weekend at Elevation we talked about the need and call for community. We talked about “Relationships lead to community and community fuels maturity.”
It made me think about all the people that are involved in faith communities (churches) that are carrying to much on their own. Whether it because of their own choice of not being involved in community by choosing to be that person who just shows up and never gets to know any one. Or that they are involved in a faith community (church) that doesn’t make relationships a priority. It burdened my heart to think about how we have so many people that say they are following Jesus but have made a choice to forget about the “One Another’s”. Through out the New Testament there many “One Another’s” and there is one that I thought of when it came to the man on the corner with the refrigerator.
2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
When did we start to think that we need to handle things all on our own? When did it become ok to know of the struggle someone is having and to do nothing? It is my prayer that today you will notice the family member or friend that is carrying to much, like the refrigerator and get involved. Who do you know that you can help carry the refrigerator down the street today? Don’t miss out on sharing in the burden.
When you get done with being in a church experience or service do you ask yourself the question, “What did I get out of this?” Hope you think about something.
It is my hope that I can help you change your perspective about answering that question. To be honest we should be really asking the question but the idea should be more about “How is Jesus speaking to me and what am I going to do in response to what He is telling me?”
So I want to challenge you with some things that can prepare you to answer that question above:
- Choose to really get into the singing. That’s right really sing out! Don’t worry about what anyone is thinking about your singing if you are seeking to honor God with you singing it shouldn’t matter. You don’t care about it when you are at a concert do you? Well don’t care when you are in service either.
- Come ready to hear and share stories that you have experienced when it comes to be being a part of a church family. This is a chance for encouragement and for life change as you become a healthier follower of Jesus.
- Be hungry to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Because being hungry is your choice as to what you experience! So pray for the person that is speaking, ask God to use them to speak into your life, to those that are sitting around you, and that lives would be changed by the gospel.
- Come prepared to be involved. Make sure you have a bible (paper or digital) get your program ready and make sure you write out notes. The notes will help you through out the week when it comes to working out what Jesus is doing in you and through you. Who knows the Holy Spirit might really use it to nudge in you a specific direction.
- Come expecting to respond to what God is doing that day both during the experience and later as you walk through what you have learned. Be ready to take it back out into life.
- Come knowing that this is not where you are going to have a strong sense of community. Remember that comes through being in a more relational driven group. (Smaller)
- Come knowing that the experience is the beginning of the week and that the experience is not the end of be all to your spiritual health. Take the experience and use it to grow more personally. Spiritual growth happens in many other ways then just on Sunday.
What are some ways that you get ready for a service or experience when you are a part of a church community? Help us see other options that are out there.
One of the things that I have come to realize is that when it comes to being a generous person its not about what we do it is about who we are. For me I was raised in home where being generous to people around you was just who you were. It wasn’t something you had to think about, or guess about, you just did it. So when I got married I just started doing what I thought was the natural thing to do. Well my wife had grown up differently then me and it was a point of great conversation for us. (That’s called an argument.) So we both had to come to a mutual understanding of what we were going to do when it came to being generous. Which honestly was a really good thing for both of us to come to as a couple. I would really say it was a great chance for me to grow as a husband, father, and as person that works in the faith community. (church)
You see because of that difference between my wife and I it enabled me to see how and why people struggle when it comes to being generous in and with their faith community. For us at Elevation we talk a lot about being generous in fact we want to be known for our “Insane Generosity” to the community around us. But for a community of faith (church) to be generous that means the people of the church need to be generous with what they give to that church. If you are a part of a faith community then you will have heard this is about offerings and about tithing. (We are not going to argue Old Testament vs New Testament giving.) So we want people to see that for us to be generous as a church community then the people need to be a part of that through their generosity through their tithes and offerings.
But most people honestly struggle here because of the different ways that they were raised. Some were raised that all you had was yours and that you take care of your own. Some were raised without anything so you had to keep whatever you had to be able to make it. Others were raised where you were just generous enough to make sure you looked good. While as others were raised with the idea that helping someone in need is just what you did that you were generous.
So it is my hope that I can encourage people to live out a generous life. Whether it is by caring for your neighbor. (Hopefully you know who they are.) By providing some food for another student at your school. (Had one of my kids do this.) Or through the tithes and offerings you share with your community of faith. (My wife does this for us now.) Because as you begin to do this you will be amazed that the words of the New Testament begin to be lived out your life in an amazing way.
Acts 20:35b “You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
How are you living out a life of insane generosity in your life? How are you being generous with your faith community so that they can be generous with the community around it?
Over the last 20 years I have spent working in churches I have always felt that students have ben looked up on as just an add on to what we do as the church. I was always asked as a pastor to students to make sure that we had something for the students to do on Sundays and then something to do during the week. It always felt a little like we were just to add something on for them. Just to keep people happy or keep the students out of the way.
Well when we started Elevation here in Aurora we felt that students shouldn’t be an add on but a big part of who we are as a church team. So this is what we did:
- Students are included in the main times on Sunday. We try real hard to make sure that we have communication that will involved them and encourage them as followers of Jesus.
- Students are asked to serve on our Dream Team just like the adults. The middle school students need to serve with an adult. The high school students can serve any where as an adult. (Sometimes better just because they can grasp technology quicker and they are quicker to reach out to new people.)
- Students are invited to be a part of the church as Team-mates just like everyone else. They are not just an add on they are team-mates.
- Students still need some time with there own age so we do that in Community Groups. Just like we do the adults.
Students are not the church of the future they are the church of today. So why not let them be a part of the church instead of just being an add on. Let’s help them identify as being a part of the body of Jesus not just something in the back hall that as long as there are no stains on the carpet or holes in the wall we are doing something good. What can you do to help make sure that students are a part of the church? How can we do things differently to enable them to grow as the body of Jesus?