Hey leaders, here’s a phrase we need to stop using: They Won’t. I’m an expert at it. Let me give you some examples: “They won’t relate.” “They won’t think the Bible’s relevant.” “They won’t take the Jesus stuff seriously.” “They won’t stick around through high school.” “They won’t share deeper things from life.”
Don’t you hear They Won’t a lot in ministry and work? They Won’t is so dangerous because it broadens the gap between you and the They. Because isn’t the problem with They Won’t the They? If you had a different They, wouldn’t all those problems go away? Isn’t that what you’re saying, basically?
So, insidiously, They Won’t widens the gap between us and they.
I’ve spent a lot of time rattling off “They Won’t”s to justify why I am where I am when it comes to ministry. Sometimes I want to quit and give it all up because “They won’t change.”
They Won’t has become a real barrier in my own heart. I love students, and I love seeing what God does in the lives and hearts of kids. I can’t afford to say They Won’t because then I begin bemoaning the They I’m called to lead and love.
I once heard Craig Groeschel say that anytime he hears a leader say “They Won’t”, he stops them and tells them to say, “I have not led them to.”
Check out what that looks like: “I haven’t led them to relate.” “I haven’t led them to see the relevance of the Bible.” “I haven’t led them to take Jesus seriously.” “I haven’t led them to stick around in high school.” “I haven’t led them to share their lives.”
That’s powerful. When I read it that way, I get pumped up. Man I love those guys, how can I help them find and build an authentic community of people following after Jesus? How can I get them to bump into Jesus? How can I get them involved in a small group that loves them unconditionally and challenges them relentlessly?
The enemy wants you discouraged. That’s his whole business model. He wants there to be a gulf between you and the they in your life It starts with resentment. “Why won’t they?”
But God gave you a heart that loves people. You are there to influence and lead them. It’s time to stop asking why you have the they you have, and instead ask what it would take to lead them where God wants them to go.