Saturday, April 21, 2012

The “Hands-On” Approach


Matthew 9  (NKJV)
35  Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
36  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
37  Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
38  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

For years now I have been using one of my many quotes to point out the truth that, “Many people are willing to be used of God but not as many are willing to be prepared for use.”

During the past few months the Spirit of God has been stirring in my life and has had me focusing on the other side of that coin … the fact that:

Many are willing to use people but not as many are willing to prepare them for use.

·        I reference many, not all but many, in the “fast food” industry, for example, whose workers who are obviously unprepared.
·        Have you ever encountered an un-prepared or ill-prepared worker?
·        How would a system of no-training or inattention to preparation work out in the surgical, pharmaceutical or aeronautical fields?

Recently I surveyed my life and decided that I needed a hobby – something that I did just for myself – call it a stress reliever or maybe a personal growth adventure … at any rate, church, work and family had become the only things to which I paid any attention. My life was consumed from daylight to midnight with things which were important but demanding.

Although I was enjoying my life and doing what I wanted, stress was beginning to take a toll on my physical and mental well being. My blood pressure was beginning to rise and I seemed always in a hurry and continually tense. When it was suggested by some people who are important to the counsel of my life it sounded almost amusing. The initial thought of having to add one more thing to my schedule only provided more stress. Nonetheless I heeded the good advice of my trusted confidants and begin to imagine what I could do for fun.

After only a few days I decided on one thing I wanted to try which I could really call a hobby. I decided to learn how to fly a helicopter. Why not? I already had a fairly good bit of university education in a related arena of life and had accumulated more than 2000 hours Pilot In Command time in various single and multi-engine airplanes over the past 30 years. I’m a reasonably quick study and so I set aside two hours each night between 10pm and midnight and I read up on the differences that existed between fixed winged and rotary winged flight.

After a week I phoned and emailed several helicopter flight schools and asked about the most common problems fixed winged pilots encountered in transitioning to flying helicopters. I received some great information and advice. After another week I made an appointment to have my first hour of ground school and flight time.

Now, I am a licensed pilot fully certified and capable of flying in zero/zero conditions, with flight time inside and outside the US, qualified to fly single pilot in the clouds, rain, nighttime and over water, in mountainous regions and at flight levels where the big jets jumbo jets fly, and even though I have been a passenger in numerous helicopter flights around the world, and even though I had read up on and listened to more technical information about rotary wing flight dynamics than required by the FAA, and to add to that I have friends who are helicopter pilots that I talked to and to top it off I have slept at more than 100 Holiday Inn Expresses … In spite of all of this … you know that when I got to my appointment they would not give me the keys to their helicopter and just let me take off and do my own thing ??? What’s up with that???

Instead, I was assigned an instructor who talked to me, tested my knowledge, assessed my mental and physical aptitude, made me sit down and listen to him teach me what he felt were some basic principles and then what I considered to be some first grade do’s and don’ts, and then he walked me all around the helicopter and made me put my hand on so many bolts and belts and arms and blades and explained switches and preflight walk-thru and emergency procedures and what to do if I heard a stall horn or saw a warning light --- yada, yada, yada … And even then, he would not let me jump in and take off by myself.

Can you imagine that the instructor expected to get into the seat right beside me and let him walk me through starting procedures? Then he told me to keep my hands and feet off of the controls and just sit and observe how he lifted off, rotated to line up with his departure, nosed over, picked up speed and began to climb … why – we were a good 50 feet above the ground already going about 40 knots before he even let me put my hands on the collective and cyclic, and my feet on the rudders and even then he kept his hands and feet riding along with me on the controls, watching my every move, setting both goals and boundaries for my whole first hour.

Well, I’ve got a few hours under my belt now and although I am confident that I can take off, fly, transition to hover and land safely if I needed to by myself – nobody will let me yet and I would be a fool to go out and attempt it by myself right now. In fact, I plan to follow the FAA regulations and continue to get hands on training from a qualified instructor, including emergency procedures, until I have been duly signed off and fully released to solo. It would be stupid on my part and theirs to allow anything else.

And yet, even though Jesus has set an example for us of a “hands on instructor”, somehow we in the Church feel that simply reading the manual or watching a video or listening to a lecture will somehow qualify people to handle things which are much more critical than learning to fly a chopper, mix prescriptions or remove an appendix. Believers are supposed to be trained, equipped and qualified to handle the eternities of men, women, boys and girls in this generation and generations to come. Let me tell you, discipleship is meant to be a hands-on approach to learning and a hands-on approach to instructing. No other model but the “Jesus-model” will do!

What is the Jesus-Model? Jesus lived for 30 years learning everything He needed know and then He spent the rest of His life discipling others. Jesus did not feed the 5000 with fish and loaves … and even though He initially told His disciples to feed them He knew that they had no idea how to do it. That is until He showed them. He took the 5 barley loaves and 2 fish and blessed them, broke them and gave what He had broken to the His disciples. Then they in turn simply continued to do what they had seen Jesus demonstrate. They, by Jesus’ hands-on discipleship approach, took the bread and fish, blessed them, broke them and gave them to someone in the row of 50 people. Then they in turn followed the disciple’s example and received the blessed bread, broke and gave to others who took, blessed, broke and gave to others and so on until perhaps 15,000 were fed and yet … more than 12 baskets full of fish and bread were left over.

Why? Because the last person did what the first person did. The last in the line to receive the fish, took, blessed, broke and placed the extra in a basket. The poorest of the poor, the hungriest of the hungry, and the last in line had the same responsibility as did the first one … to do what Jesus did!

No doubt it was a miracle … a miracle that kept on going … but it was a hands-on miracle! That’s the Jesus-Model! This principle is repeated by the Apostle Paul when he told Timothy to keep discipleship going by training others to do what he had been trained to do so they could train still others. (2 Timothy 2:2) – It is nothing short of our command from the Lord Jesus Himself, which we call “The Great Commission”.

Matthew 28  “The Great Commission”
18  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19  "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20  "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

We are not told to go and be disciples … believers are not called to be pupils … we are told to go and make disciples … but to be instructors!

The fields are ripe unto harvest – the harvest is plentiful … people are hungry to be handled and desire to be discipled … who will obey the great commission … who will go and labor in my Father’s field? Our challenge is not to persuade people to become a disciple but rather our challenge is to disciple them. God needs more laborers … (not just teachers & preachers)

Teaching is not enough – if teaching were enough then hearing would be enough – and we all know that hearing alone won’t get anyone saved … and neither will it make anyone a disciple.

What will it take to accomplish the Great Commission? The same it took for Jesus to disciple His followers … it will take the same thing from the very last one as it took from the first … What will it take:
1.   It Will Take Time
2.   On Purpose
3.   With Others

I challenge you to embrace a hands-on approach to discipleship. If you have been discipled and are presently a fully devoted follower of Christ then give your time on purpose to others who are hungry. Don’t imagine that there is a shortage of people wanting to be equipped and willing to spend time with you specifically for that purpose.

If you say, “How can I disciple someone else?” – Disciple them the same way you were discipled. If you can’t remember how that happened – perhaps you weren’t discipled or maybe you need to spend time on purpose with someone else who will teach you what you can then begin to teach others. God needs more laborers.

If you are one in the multitudes of people hungry for more of God in your life, willing to invest quality time and present yourself as a student, open to learn the will, the Word and the ways of Jesus, begin by joining one of the monthly “Life Shape” groups which we currently have ongoing and make plans now to be a part of the weekly personal growth and discipleship Life Shape opportunity this June. It’s a beginning - do this and I promise more.

Will it make a difference in your life … “Yes!” it will … and, it will make a difference in every life you touch thereafter. It’s the “Hands-On” approach!