I’ve been thinking a lot about strategy lately. It’s one of those nefarious words that we don’t really think of, except in a military context. But what I’ve come to appreciate about strategy is that it’s like a habit for non-habitual things. Every morning I get up and take a shower. That’s a habit. But a strategy for me is that when I feel my depression coming on, I’ve decided that I’m going to remind myself this is just a temporary season and I’ve lived through thousands of these depressive thoughts and I will live through this one, too. That’s a strategy.
As a leader of students, I have a very well defined strategy. It’s been in my heart for years and it’s part of what makes me tick, as a leader. It’s why even when I wallow in my discouragement, and when I’m convinced I have done nothing of worth for the Kingdom, I can get up on a Tuesday and go to Rev and not give up even when everything inside me says I should.
My goal is that I want outsiders to become insiders. I want to be the shepherd that left the 99 sheep to find the one lost sheep. There are a lot of great leaders that can take spiritually-on-fire-for-Jesus students and help them become leaders and build them and grow them into men who do great kingdom things. And, I won’t lie, sometimes when I see other leaders that have great Bible studies and get to really deeply disciple students, I sometimes wish I could do that, too. Or that what I’m doing is inadequate.
But, good heavens, that’s not what I feel called to do. I feel called to pursue the sick and the one lost sheep. Most of the time I’m satisfied when my students think God is real, but don’t know or believe anything beyond that. (let’s call that a spiritual level of 1) But I’ve also seen many of my students grow from a spiritual 1 into 3 or 4. They’re beginning to believe that Jesus does love us, and that fact changes everything. (and it isn’t based on us, but on God, so it never wavers!)
How do you get there? What’s the strategy? Ephesians 3:19 describes what this looks like: “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.”
I’m convinced you can’t tell someone that God loves you. That’s way too abstract. You can’t tell someone about God’s love, all you can do is demonstrate it. How do you do that? Extreme generosity. Generosity with our time, with our money (for me: Wendy’s frosties and Chipotle burritos) and most of all with our grace. I had a kid I love yell at me in a crowd that I should go f**k myself because he was upset about something. And my first reaction, believe it or not (Jesus has been radically changing me) was to lead with grace. When he calmed down (which took some time), we had a really great conversation. If my strategy had been anything different, I might have quickly shut him down, and maybe he would have been a lot less receptive to what I really wanted to tell him.
Paul says you can’t understand the love of Christ, at least not fully. That means you can’t fully explain the love of Christ, either. All you can do is demonstrate it the best you can in someone else’s life.
Will it sometimes blow up in your face? Absolutely.
Will your extreme generosity be abused and will it get taken advantage of? You can count on it.
But, dear reader, riddle me this: how many times have you taken advantage of God’s amazing generosity? How many times did God extend grace-over-grace that you abused? I’m ashamed to say I still abuse His marvellous, unearned and amazing generosity on a daily basis.
So love that demonstrates the love of Christ is, by definition, going to be abused. People will take advantage of it. And, this may be the most unbelievable thing in the whole world, but the more some of my favorite people take advantage of my generosity, the more I love them. God’s love is transforming me from the inside out, because when my generosity is abused I look and think, “You’re stealing water drops from me when I’d be willing to gift you oceans.”
And I think God looks at us the same way. We’re content stealing from God, a penny here and a nickel there. But, in His extraordinary generosity, He has already gifted us more riches than Fort Knox.
I can’t say I ever come close to being able to give away the truly counter-cultural amazing love of Christ in the world. But the more I experience it, the better I partially understand God’s love for me, and the more this stuff is transforming me from the inside out.
That’s my strategy. It’s simple but not easy. And I hope you steal it because it will change you every bit as much as it has changed me.