On All Occasions: Holding on, While Letting Go: Traversing discouragement

On All Occasions: Holding on, While Letting Go: Traversing discouragement
I am free to let go of things for the sake of making the supremacy of God's worth known. John Piper

Thursday, October 10, 2013

7 Ways to Help People Reach Their Potential

He was a leader in the church, but didn’t have any friends. People avoided him by walking the other way or quickly excusing themselves. He wasn’t a good listener, and newcomers quickly learned it.

The problem was his behavior was observed passively until, finally, another leader lost patience and spewed his frustration publicly.

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

You’ve probably seen a similar story, maybe even playing the role of passive observer, the person who recognizes an area of relational weakness in another, but lacks a vision of a kingdom potential that remains unrealized. There is a greater role we must serve, and that is to think God’s vision for one another.

As a passive observer, we may excuse ourselves from involvement by citing our desire to be kind, to guard other’s feelings, to avoid conflict, or steer clear of judgmental thinking. In spite of good intentions, these reasons lack God’s vision for others.

Is it kind to avoid others, or to overlook relational sin for the sake of preserving a relationship? Would doing so demonstrate life-giving community? What I’m suggesting is not in opposition to love and acceptance of others, but it does hold the vision of God’s story in each of us higher than maintaining the approval of others. What if someone had a greater vision for this leader?

Sadly, he resigned from leadership and left the church. But, before we can know God’s vision for another we must be aware of our motives. We play the role of fixer when we react in frustration (as in the example above) or when we pursue our own vision for others, one focused on error, fault, or sin. Fixing another person often looks and feels like using a hammer and a magnifying glass.

Our motives are often: 

  • self-serving–rooted in our own issues 
  • attempts to gain approval, or cooperation in matters that are important to us 
  • aimed at changing annoying habits 
Wouldn’t we like others to fit our design–one of met expectations, shared values, similar likes and dislikes, and an agreement on how life works? We often see this in marriages when couples lose God’s vision for one another replacing it with self-centered expectations? How can we join with God’s vision for one another?

When we think God’s vision we grasp his handiwork and heart for others, and our relationships join with God’s purposes. In the book Connecting, Christian psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb recommends 7 questions to help us identify God’s vision: 

  1. How has God built this person?
  2. What is he wanting to release through all the joys and heartaches of this person’s life?
  3. What is right now being released?
  4. What strengths does this individual have that, if surrendered to God could powerfully advance the kingdom?
  5. What potential remains unrealized because of un-dealt-with weaknesses?
  6. How does this person uniquely bless me?
  7. What does that tell me about the character strengths that God is specially weaving into the fabric of this individual’s soul?
Dr. Crabb’s approach is based on the Potter’s design, “we have this treasure in jars of clay.” God’s vision for others, recognizes their unique design, the strengths, gifts, and qualities that God has built within to accomplish his kingdom purpose. When we see God’s design in others we are able to join that vision, affirm unrealized strengths, and help explore areas of un-dealt with weakness.

It takes courage and begins when we humbly open our lives to mutually vulnerable relationships for the sake of powerfully advancing the kingdom. Investing in relationships requires prayer, and selflessly loving others. Paul challenged us to “encourage one another and build each other up,” and to “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” Jesus is the “author” and we serve as “motivators.”

Is there someone you are avoiding? If so, ask God to help you see his vision. What is attractive about this kind of relationship? What is frightening?