One of my favorite Christmas gifts of all-time is the board game Strageo. I can remember the year that my cousin Lance and I both received this game for Christmas. We spent the next 7-10 days playing this game non-stop!! It combined all the elements that we loved...strategy, deception, conquest and competition.
Sometimes I wonder if this is our approach to discipleship. Do we see people as projects or spiritual conquests, and are we in competition with each other to see who can do the most for the sake of the Kingdom? I often wonder how misaligned our motivation to invest in others may be at times.
As a logical, creative thinker...I gotta tell you that I love to strategy. I love creating a system and plan for not only organization, but also development. Man some of the things I have put together over the years look so good on paper!! The problem seems to be when I see the strategy as the end goal rather than the people whom the strategy is supposed to serve.
I think that at times our desire for results is what keeps us from actually realizing our goals whether it be in our personal lives or in our ministry driven lives. Please don't misunderstand me, I believe there is value in keeping the end or the desired outcome in mind. But when this goal becomes our focus and we lose sight of what present reality is, this is where we strategy becomes a hindrance to discipleship.
I've been asked by people many times, well what about Jesus discipleship strategy? To be honest, depending on who you talk to, some people would say He didn't have a strategy, while others would say that he absolutely did. I think Jesus had the God-given ability to keep his desired outcome in mind while being able to develop a unique strategy for each of his disciples. There were times when Jesus used a more hands on discipleship strategy approach (miracles) and other times when He threw the strategy and tradition out the window to simply engage people (the Samaritan woman). I think the lesson to learn about strategy is that there needs to be a balanced approach to its' use in the process of spiritual transformation or discipleship. We can have an overarching plan on how we want to spiritually develop people, but we must recognize that each person will require a unique strategy for development individually. Yes, they may still fit the overall plan or strategy at large, but how we tangibly engage them relationally and disciple them spiritually will remain unique. My kids are a great example of this. My daughter requires instruction in a different way than my son, but my goal for both of them remains the same...I want them to become radical, world-changing followers of Jesus Christ.
The next time you are sitting down to plot out strategy on how to develop people or how to engage your friends, remember that although strategy is a key cog in the wheel of spiritual transformation, it is not the end all be all. There are times when our strategy for ministry needs to be more mobile and reproducible than clean, neat and tidy!!