Freeing People vs. Filling Positions

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:10 (NIV)

A few years ago, while attending a workshop on coaching, I had a bit of an epiphany. As I learned about the power of effective coaching to draw out the gifts and callings in God’s people, I began to ask myself some deeper level questions:

  • What if our disciple-making efforts have been focused in the wrong place?
  • What if we have been discipling people to fill needs in the corporate structure of the church when God is calling us to free them to go and do whatever it is the Father created them for?
  • What if we began to develop people and leaders to steward their gifts and callings in whatever way they sensed God was leading them?
  • How would this change of focus impact the way we do disciple-making, leadership development and church multiplication?

I would like to share three simple points as we consider this potential paradigm shift. 

See Every Person As A Unique Treasure

The scripture above clearly shows us that each individual follower of Jesus is a treasured work of art. There are no cheap imitations in God’s family. The Greek word for “handiwork” in the Eph. 2:10 has the meaning of a treasured piece of art, a masterpiece. Every person in God’s kingdom is a masterpiece He is fashioning to display His nature and goodness. The key is to begin to ask God to give you His heart for each person so you begin to see them through His eyes. We need to see people through the eyes of the Spirit and the lens of His great love for them. When we see people accurately, the way God sees them, it changes everything. It changes the way we see them and the way we treat them. Each person is a beloved, valuable and unique son or daughter. They are precious treasures, like chunks of solid gold. When we work with a person, or a leader, we are working with one of God’s great masterpieces, and our attitude and actions with them should reflect their great worth.

Draw Out the Gold in Each Person

Our primary focus should be to free them to fulfill the call on their lives, not to find out how they can fill a ministry role or need. We need to develop the skills to draw out the God-image, the gold, in every person we serve. This will require some training, skill development and increased discernment, but it is very learnable.  I have taught hundreds of pastors and leaders the skills of mining for gold. It is simple, but very powerful. Mining for the gold (the God-image) in each person is the most exciting treasure hunt you can imagine. Each and every day we get to participate in discovering the hidden riches inside of God’s people.

Cooperate with the Holy Spirit

We have made ourselves and our institutions too important. God is the great Treasure Hunter. Disciple-making has always been about God and His kingdom, the realm where He rules and reigns. He is developing each person to fit into His greater kingdom plans. As I have worked with hundreds of leaders, I have found my role is simply to discern where the Father is at work in their lives. He is always at work.  Then I help them cooperate with what He is doing. We need to surrender our disciple-making and leader development goals and processes to the Person of the Holy Spirit. He knows why He made each person, and He alone can bring them into the fullness of their calling. Our job is to cooperate with what God is doing in a person’s life.

God invites us to join Him in this thrilling work of mining for gold in His people. He is freeing His sons and daughters to be who He created them to be. Let’s join Him in this powerful and exciting work.