Does Not Wisdom Call Out? Pt. 7
Study Guide September 1, 2019
Pastor Clay Olsen
So, it’s Labor Day weekend. I was thinking: It’s actually pretty neat that we would have a holiday such as Labor Day. It’s been a national holiday since 1894. For a lot of Americans it represents the end of Summer and a return to school. But the U.S. Department of Labor states that Labor Day is a celebration and honor of the greatest worker in the world – the American worker. Now those are just simply encouraging words right there. Labor Day is like saying to all the hard working people in our communities: “Way to go! This day is a celebration of you, for all of your hard work and your contributions in making life better for everyone.”
So again, pretty great holiday. And we also point this out because as we pointed out in our last study, one of the ways to encourage good work is to commend good work that has already been done. And then you can exhort them to excel still more, like we saw with the Apostle Paul in commending his fellow believers for what they had already done in their works as followers of Christ and then encouraging them to excel still more. And not only is that just a wise way of inspiring others around us, it is also a wise way to sharpen others around us, which wisdom is calling out for us to do: We are called to sharpen one another.
Now, we have already focused some studies on this so we just kind of want to wrap it up by pointing out a couple of really helpful concepts in connection with this discipline of wisdom – of becoming sharpened as a way of life for the glory of God and the gain of others, including ourselves. So let’s explore.
Whenever we deal with this discipline of sharpening some wonder how you ever get to a place in your relationship with others where this can really take place. Well, as we stated earlier, most often you will have to initiate it. And surprisingly enough, one of the ways you gain others confidence whereby you then can have a level of freedom in helping each other in this discipline of sharpening is by developing with others what has been called – ‘The Encouragement Connection’. In a book called ‘Lord, Give Me Wisdom’, by Terry Powell, he talks about how powerful words of encouragement really are, and what a powerful impact they can make on others. Some more verses from Proverbs show this:
Prov 12:25- “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” NLT
Prov 15:4- “Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit.” TEV
Prov 16:24- “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” NLT
The point is to realize how amazingly powerful encouraging words really are. And not only are they powerful, but we are actually commanded to practice this discipline of encouragement with others. Note 1 Thess 5:11- “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” NASU So this discipline of encouragement, or this ministry of encouragement, is a command that we are to practice in our relationships with others, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are commanded to be ‘people builders’, and this tool of encouragement is crucial in order to do just that.
Note also what the Apostle Paul directed us to be doing as a discipline in our life: Gal 6:10- “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” NIV And so again, one of the best ways to do good to one another is to encourage one another about the good that they are doing. And in doing so, they will become much more inclined to excel still more.
Therefore, to encourage one another is just one of the disciplines that we are to practice in our lives. And we can use it to sort of ‘jump start’ this sharpening process with others, simply by using, we could call them, ‘the cables of encouragement’.
Whenever you think about this command to ‘sharpen one another’, do connect it with this principle of the ‘encouragement connection’ and it will help you develop this holy habit in your life. Actually, Terry Powell does give some examples of how you can encourage others, or give them a jump start by: Complimenting a character trait or course of action that you have noticed about them; (remember: last week we gave a list of positive and negative character traits that you can use to assist you in this), or, another example is by letting them know about how something they said or did spurred you on spiritually; or by defending them against unjust criticism; or by reminding them of how you are there for them in any time of need; or also reminding them to let you know how you can pray for them about anything, and so on.1 These commendations or encouragements are a great way to carry out our God-given mission to ‘build up one another’.
But before we move on from this discipline of sharpening, there is one more helpful way that each of us can make a mental adjustment about it all in order to help make it become a regular part of our life. And actually, this is simply a transferable concept that is Biblically based, but many have started using it in business and in their personal lives with great benefit, and it’s this: It’s the concept of Coaching; Life Coaching. It has really caught on in the business world.
Did you know there is a National Life Coaching Academy where you can become a certified Life Coach? They claim that some of the top Life Coaches earn over $300 an hour. And there are many different types of coaches including: General Life Coaches, Life Balance Coaches, Health Coaches, Small Business Coaches, Executive Coaches, Personal Finance Coaches, Relationship Coaches, and more. And, as they state, ‘these Coaches work with all types of clients from people who are full of momentum and want to take life to the next level to people who are stuck and need a coach to nudge them in the right direction.’ They also state: ‘Life Coaches work with their clients to help them achieve goals, overcome obstacles and make changes or shifts in their lives. The coach works with the client as a partner…to create the changes they seek. The client can be an individual or a group and the topic can range from life balance to restructuring a fortune 500 company.’
They went on to state: ‘Through specific strategies and skills, the coach helps you define yourself and create the life you envision. Coaches help you focus, provide direction, challenge you, support you, motivate you and celebrate with you. Life coaches help you create a plan, detail action steps and hold you accountable for following through. They use skills that include observing, listening deeply, asking empowering questions, challenging and motivating.’2
As I was reading this mission statement of this National Life Coaching Academy I thought: “You know, in relation to what we are focusing on in the Church, this is called ‘Discipleship’! It sounds like they are describing the process of Discipleship; assisting one another as ‘Life Coaches’. Really, how remarkable that ‘Discipleship’ really is a commission to each of us to serve as a ‘Life Coach’ for one another.
Now, if you think about this in relation to sports, athletes, or players, naturally carry an attitude of being open to sharpening. They carry an attitude of being willing to be sharpened. They actually want the Coach to help sharpen them. Why? Because they have set their goal to develop the skills necessary to become as effective of a player as they can be for the sake of the team. And since this is their goal, not only are they open to being ‘coached’, they expect it. And so they are not offended when the Coach corrects something they are doing and instructs them on how to do that skill more effectively and so on. That’s what they hope the Coach will do for them and will keep doing so that they can improve as a team player!
One of the reasons even believers tend to be resistant or defensive about being sharpened, or receiving counsel or constructive criticism or helpful advise from one another, is that they have not clearly established in their mind and attitude that a priority goal of theirs is to develop their skills in order to become as effective as they can be as a player or disciple for the sake of the Team; which is Christ’s Church. So no wonder so many Christians go through life kind of just sort of doing what they’ve always done, instead of seeking out continual coaching for doing what God has called them to do even more effectively than they have done it before!
So, why don’t we transfer that attitude into the other areas of our lives…why do we stop looking for Coaches or stop being open to others who, like a coach, would help us be a better team player as a disciple in God’s church, or as husband or wife, or as a servant in our community, or as a witness to our world, and so on? Part of the answer to that is that you and I have to make it become a priority goal of ours in our thinking and attitude to become sharper in our character and conduct as Disciples of Christ and His church. If we don’t make it a priority goal, well then it will neither be a priority of ours nor a goal of ours, and we will then neglect being and doing what God really intended us to be and intended us to do as a team player in His service.
Again, this is a clear and direct transferable concept for our Discipleship. Even my role as a Pastor is really just a Spiritual Life Coach. In Church I’m like a Player-Coach. I need to be doing what the other Brothers and Sisters are doing, and I also am to be Coaching others in doing what our Lord has instructed us all to do. Actually, in a similar way, every member of Christ’s body, Christ’s church, is to be an active player-coach as well. And as such, we are to then carry the kind of attitude that athletes have either on the practice field or the game field. Athletes are not surprised when a fellow player or their coach comes up and says something like: “Hey, that’s a good hit, but if you’ll adjust your stance just a bit this way, it will open up your sight to the ball even better”… or give some coaching help like that. You see it? The players are looking to their coaches and even fellow teammates to give them some tips and show them some ways that they can do their part on the team even more effectively than before. Again, not only are they not surprised by the coaching they are getting on the field, they are expecting it! And they are expecting it because their goal is to grow in the skills and knowledge of their sport.
So each of us can transfer that good open-minded attitude toward instruction and correction in our own walk of discipleship into the further development of our character and our conduct, as well as in growing in our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and God’s plan for us all. And we can then look to others around us as both fellow players and coaches that we want to come alongside of us and say – “Hey, you’re doing this really well, but if you would make this correction or this adjustment…it would really help you and others, and so on. Think about that in relation to what the Apostle Peter said in
2 Peter 3:18- “…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” NASU And how are we supposed to grow in this grace and knowledge?
Look at this game plan from the Apostle Paul in Eph 4:11-13- “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” NASU
This sounds just like a team of coaches and players, of ‘player-coaches’ working together, practicing together, learning together, helping each other sharpen their skills in order to be as useful as they can be and effective as they can be in serving the Owner of the team…our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are called by God to do life together. And this will require that we learn to think like a team player, and that we become open to one another and are willing to be sharpened by one another in the skills of Biblical living, and become eager to learn more and more from each other about the truths and realities of God’s world. We are to do this with the goal of building each other up, not tearing one another down…and with a personal goal of improving in each arena of our life in the wisdom skills that we need in order to honor Christ as best we can and serve others as well as we can.
Remember: Discipleship is a team sport…but it’s not a game. It’s life! And we’re called to play it as best we can for the sake of our King!
- Terry Powell, Lord, Give Me Wisdom, p. 47
- nationalcoachingacademy.com, What Does a Life Coach Do?, by JILL