Years ago I heard the statement that when all is said and done, a lot more is said than done. I thought then, and I still think now, isn’t that the truth! Perhaps another way of putting it would be: When it come to progress as a Christian leader, a lot more is heard, read, studied than applied.
As leaders, we live in an information avalanche world. Between sermons, books, podcasts, articles, posts, radio, TV, movies and music, we are constantly inundated with all kinds of ideas, words, concepts, etc. It’s a 24/7 never-ending stream. If only information translated into maturity our leadership would look very different. We all know in our heart of hearts that just knowing something, hearing something, or reading something doesn’t change us if it’s not applied.
Jesus said it plainly and simply to his band of leaders: “If you know these things blessed are you if you do them”—John 13:17 (ESV)
Lately, I’ve been thinking that I want to be always living with an “Application Mindset.”
Every time I encounter information, I want to ask myself:
What have I just received?
What does it mean?
What does it mean to me?
What can I, will I, do with it?
I must get myself to that last question
If I just appreciate it, respect it, agree with it, admire it, but do nothing with it, nothing will change.
I have a strong sense that a lot of leaders are informational junkies; always on the lookout for the latest, greatest never-heard-that-before idea.
It was Samuel Johnson who said, “We need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.”
I already know too much. What I truly need is more going, not more knowing. Knowledge is cheap, application is costly. With His help I want to have a bias for action, an application mind-set.
I’m not suggesting that we do something with every bit of knowledge/information we receive, but neither do we want to do little or nothing with it except collect it.
Recently I was meditating my way through Proverb 24:30-34 and noticed a progression:
- I walked
- I saw
- I looked
- I thought
- I learned
- I applied
Unless I intentionally get to “I applied,” no progress will be made in my leadership maturity.
Ezra 7:10, an oldie but goodie, says something very similar “ For Ezra had set his heart to study (to learn it ) the law of the Lord, and to do it ( to apply it) and to teach (to share it).”
I’m discovering that shared (preached, taught) truth has much more power and authenticity if its first applied.
When I watch a movie/video, read a book/post, listen to a podcast, I write thoughts down, but then I want to take the next step of building the good habit of asking myself that most important question—is there anything here that the Holy Spirit wants me to respond to; something I can apply to my life and work?
Years ago, I read a quote by Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, the organization with which I worked for 37 years.
“Thoughts untangle themselves passing over the lips and through the pencil tips.”
When I encounter truth, it moves to another level as I articulate to others what I have learned, get ideas from them and then write some thoughts down. I’m always taking notes, even at a movie (harder in the dark) when I encounter an interesting thought, so I can think about it and understand how it can be applied. This is living with an “Application Mindset.” Here is a formula to facilitate this.
Information plus contemplation, plus conversation, plus application will result in transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is, by this time, blatantly obvious is that information does not result in transformation. As I think about what truth I have encountered, discuss it with a few others and then lean into the power of the Holy Spirit to I apply it, transformation can happen.
Yesterday I watched an interview on U-tube that Carey Nieuwhof did with Pastor Rick Warren. I took notes. Those notes are on my desk and I have read them a few times since yesterday. I see one thought I want to begin praying over and applying; “Be very careful of falling into self-promotion.” I’m asking the Lord to make me aware of things I do, say or write which are self-promoting, rather than Jesu-promoting. I realize that this is not going to be an easy thing to identity, but I want to go there. I’m inviting the Holy Spirit to search my heart (Psalm 139:23,24).
As a leader, here’s my question to you. Assuming you spend a fair amount of time gathering information as you read, listen and watch, what are you being led to apply and what have you done with it, or shortly will do with it? Please be honest and specific.