“Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness” Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church
A great capacity for giving comes from a generous heart, and a generous heart always finds the motivation and the outlets to love all people (including difficult people). The Bible challenges believers to recognise each person’s value and seek ways to validate each person we interact with.
Not that we need reminding, but throughout Scripture it’s clear: each and every one of us has profound value as creatures made in the image of a God who loves us deeply. Here’s just a few examples that speak clearly of the value given to each and every person.
Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32)
I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)
Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us (Genesis 1:26)
If we as Christians, as God’s people on this earth, fail to adopt a giving attitude of valuing and validating people, we will be a second-rate church.
You see, it’s not just what we believe or what we think that will count in eternity, it’s what we do with what we think and what we believe that’s really crucial. If we’ve heard the Lord and are obedient to him and claim to have become people who have giving hearts, then it must be showing in our lives. Let’s see it in action. Don’t just think it’s a nice idea. Don’t just talk about it – do it!
Learning to Value, Learning to Validate.
The challenge God is putting to us is that we must stretch our capacity to love others by valuing and validating them. It’s not enough to just believe that we should have giving hearts, and it’s not enough just to accept that it’s a good thing for other people either.
A Pastor of a large North Island church whom I’ve known personally for over 20 years recently shared with a group of leaders some of the lessons he’s learned through the years. He told us about when he was transferred from a moderately small church to take over the Senior Pastor’s role in a large, ‘successful’ church. He was quite intimidated by the prospect and was very aware that he had ‘some big shoes to fill’ as he was still quite young and inexperienced. So, he asked God to speak to him about a strategy or leadership style that he should apply.
All that God told him (very clearly) was “Value and Validate.”
These two words were to be his strategy. And this was to apply to every person he met, irrespective of their office, or standing, or position, or ability.
He was concerned about having such a limited statement to work with, so asked God for a broader strategy, or at least a clearer word of explanation. But all he received from God was “value and validate.”
For the last 20 something years, that’s been his primary call. So in everything he’s done, he’s sought to be a source of encouragement, to build people up, to never let a goal or outcome become more important than the people involved. He’s sought to highlight people’s achievements and listen to their hearts. To value and validate a person means listening carefully to them. And it’s more than simply listening, but recognising and acknowledging that everybody has a story and needs a voice to tell it. It’s finding ways to help people recognise that everyone has a gift, and helping each person find ways to express and practice it.
Of course there are strategies, plans, budgets, trust boards, management, vision casting and everything else involved in a large church’s ministries. But he said it all must be deliberately approached, articulated and out-worked from the call to “value and validate” every individual person that may be involved at any level.
This church has gone from strength to strength. They’ve developed the larger church while also building up a number of satellite congregations, a number of local and international missional enterprises, a large private tertiary training institution, and have recently even purchased a fully functioning medical and counselling centre. And all of that has flown out of the simple challenge to “value and validate.”
How are you & your group doing when it comes to valuing and validating people?
What opportunities is God giving you & your group to grow in this area?
Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.