Building a Desire For God in Others

I have this… what should be common, gift. I have been involved with many teenagers and adults through youth programs, Sunday School classes, teaching, speaking, board membership and personal mentoring and accountability. My gift is to help build a desire for God and eventually Godly leadership in others. To join the conversation how Godly Leaders raise Godly Leaders in context read Jim’s article here and then come back for some stories and insights. Sign up for SLIMJIM’s blog! read his series on Leadership.

I commented to James on his Godly Leadership article (A highly respected pastor, very active in evangelism and apologetics on the university campuses with a great Blog) and this was his response.

Gary I wish and pray for more leaders like you in our churches in America and the World today. What you are doing as a lay leader with your ministry orientation and ability to cultivate others to grow is so, so, precious. You got to tell me more what you do brother! My interest is peaked! SLIMJIM My foundational answer was in a nutshell “I spend time with God and He leads me”. knowing that answer was not answering his question, I wanted to use my blog space for furthering the conversation. So, yes. read Jim’s article.

Jim’s request took me back in time a bit when he said “tell me more what you do?” Back to stories of trying to help failing churches with their youth groups, as our Youth For Christ meetings were booming. Meeting with the youth leadership and sometimes a church board. The same question “What do you do?”, or “what are you doing to be successful?

It’s more than a program: Most of the time, they wanted a program outline, a list of creative games, resource books. I should have brought a can of “Fix a flat” to many meetings. I saw many a blank face when I told them to strive to build a desire and love for God in their youth. Then I began to ask questions of them to help them see where they were at as leaders (each one personally) and hopefully build into their youth.

Ask The Right Question: The right question(s) require vision, forethought, intentionality and a purpose to help the other person began to assess and take ownership of the outcome. This is true in developing Godly Leaders, helping people develop personally and even buying a car. I’ll give you a money saving question at the end (ha).

Build credible relationships: Conversation wit Jeff after playing some basketball a few times (a young guy who went to another church with a family and a good job), “Hey Jeff, there are 3 of us guys who meet after basketball. We are helping each other become the men we are supposed to be. Do you want in? Jeff: “definitely, yes” and Jeff has a history of saying “YES” to God in so many ways. his love for God is infectious.

Be Bold: A guy asked me to mentor him at work (I found out later it was find a mentor or get fired). Being somewhat reluctant, I asked him if he was willing to honestly face some hard questions and consider asking God for changes. He said “Yes”. The next week I took him in my boat to the middle of the lake and we talked and fished. We continued that conversation until he moved away for another job caught a big fish and later explained that he would have jumped out of my boat and swam to shore to avoid my questions. He began to understand that loving God is not checking off things on a to-do list. god used me in spite of myself that time.

Sense when the Holy Spirit nudges: A young family man was putting on his jacket in the church foyer. I sensed he was restless but felt led to say something. I said, “Hey Fred, do you mind a personal question from the church chairman?” he nodded ok. “First, don’t blink. I know you work a lot but if you blink your oldest son will be in college”. He nodded agreement. 2nd, “do you ever see yourself as growing so close to the Lord, leading your 5 kids and your wife in the ways of God, and being a part of Godly leadership after I’m gone”? Fred straightened up with a far away look and said quietly “yes, I think so”

Always give ownership of their growth and Godliness to them. Assume they are taking ownership of their relationship with God. I was a slot in giving a series of youth worker seminars to a regional group of youth directors in a mainline denomination. (My take on being recruited was that he needed a sacrificial lamb. A real life youth director to show how not to do things ). In the question and answer time one frustrated director asked the magic question. “how come kids quit the church after confirmation? they are not interested in church or any kind of “faith activities” again until they are married and have kids. The kids get baptized and confirmed and they quit. The cycle continues. WHAT’S WRONG????

Self discovery is so, so very important. The room was silent. Pin drop silent. who ever heard of 50+ youth directors gathered together being silent? This was an “I being in the way, the Lord led me” moment. I focused on the youth director and asked “can you personally have faith for your kids? does that work?” She said “NO”. “Can your pastor have faith for your kids?” again, “No”. “Can the parents have faith for their kids?” Another “No” “Can the church have faith for their kids?” “no”. ME: “You are correct, they have to have their own faith” (at this point the gal who asked the question almost jumped up and down and yelled to the rest of the group “That’s it!”). Now having credibility I concluded: “The real question then becomes do you as youth directors understand how to help your kids have their own personal faith in the very God who created them, loves them and wants to have a personal relationship with them. I would have loved to record the bit of chaos with the denominational leadership that happened for awhile...sound bytes no matter how spiritual they sound, well they have a hollow sound actually.

Desire: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can sure put salt in his oats! Figure out how to salt the oats but mostly drink deeply yourself. I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone say (in various ways) “You have something I want. I am not sure what it is but it has to do with God”. A teen came up to me and said “I came tonight because I want what Mitch has. I think it has to do with God” I said to him “Can I have Mitch tell you? He would be glad to share, hey Mitch come here” and Mitch introduced Mike to a personal relationship with God.

Mitch was brand new himself but had great desire to share this love for God and God’s love for us. Desire begets desire. Do you have desire? Tasting intimacy with our Savior creates more desire not less. Desire doesn’t burn out, it spreads like wildfire unless quenched by the weeds and garbage of life. Let me ask you a simple question “do you spend time alone with God in his word, prayer, praise and listening for his voice more than listening to the garbage of this world?” which one you focus on becomes the context of the other.

“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” If these are seen in our lives, others will want what we have. Earnestly desire this and then ask God for more desire!

This is a small slice Jim of what I do because of my Love for the Lord. I hope that is a good start. Gary

PS Oh ya, advice on saving money in buying a car. My son in college came to me because he wanted to buy a nice car. The salesman didn’t want to go below $20,000 and probably could tell my son could afford payments (worked his way through college). My son was budget minded and told me he might go 17K for it but how could he make the salesman come down. I told him to get the salesman on his terms by asking him how close to $15,000 could he get? upon hearing that number the salesman said, no way can I sell that car for $15K! My son said, “I asked how close can you get because that will depend on whether I buy it or not”…”How about 16.2? Do you see the dynamics at work here? (Sorry sales people).

24 thoughts on “Building a Desire For God in Others

  1. You brought a flood of old memories back Gary. The first time I was introduced to men who followed Jesus was when I was in my early twenties and through God’s grace I saw that the reality of walking with God was possible. There were retreats and many late night discussions around a kitchen table and the seed was sown. But then I got posted and left those men and women in our group behind and stood on my own. I didn’t fare all that well, there were spurts but I basically had to walk through my own wilderness and had to come to the awareness that my biggest obstacle was me. I think I ran into as many problems from within the Church as I did from outside of the Church and once again, I myself was the primary obstacle. But I had seen and I believed. And then, through God’s grace, He became real to me. It’s been a long walk and for sure I am a slow learner but God’s mercy, love and patience was and is a constant gift. Men like you and SlimJim are gifts, you sow seeds and lead and serve by example, lead by God’s Holy Spirit and Jesus is the gardener. I called and God answered, I saw and experienced not only being nurtured but I caught a glimpse of the Gardener Himself and learned, over time and many failures, to hear His voice and follow His lead myself. I’m thinking that is all that any of us can do, it’s just that some do it better than others and our success depends largely on being sensitive and responsive to God’s Holy Spirit as He works in His garden cultivating us all. Kind of amazing when you stop to think about it. I know this, I am thankful for those two men who planted the seed in me and I am respectful and appreciative of men like you and SlimJim who have and are, following God’s leading and still planting that seed. Blessings brother. – Bruce

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You have had quite a journey Bruce. You took ownership of your walk with God. In many cases if the church were a car it would be missing a wheel and several parts. When it ran we would hear a lot of backfiring. When we follow God personally, on our own, we become our part of the church that functions properly. when functioning members get together (two or more in agreement) mountains are moved in the lives around us. “Today, if you hear His voice (Through pastor Jim, through layman Gary, through blogger Bruce, through your personal quiet time reading and prayer and listening), do not harden your hearts” Hebrews 3:15.

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  2. Very inspiring post here, Gary. It is said that we are the church. As our own faith deepens and grows, not unlike the mustard seed, we spread our branches out. The Holy Spirit breathes new life into those branches daily; we long to share our faith with others. So many good points to think about…thank you for sharing. I thought at once of those people who were leaders to me when I was very little. I remember the Sunday School teacher who let us sit outside in God’s beautiful house of nature for our lessons. I remembered that later when I taught Sunday School myself…opening the doors of the church and spreading the news far and wide…Jesus is our Savior and He goes everywhere we go.

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  3. Brother Gary this is very very good. You touched on something very important that must not be missed: Our relationship/walk with God. Our union and communion with Him matters when it comes to leading and cultivating others as leaders. I remember in certain context in my life hearing people saying being a good follower is an important prerequisite for leadership (obviously leadership also have to have other requirements too). It seems that’s so important to be one who follows after God and know and be in the Will of God with HIs leading.

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  4. Thanks Jim. Without that intimacy in a daily walk with God, we are left with being just a bunch of religious people going to sales meetings to pump up each others leaky vessels with all our hot air. God s power through the Spirit in lives walking with him….

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