The "Good Ol' Days" Are Just Plain Annoying

It's no use to look back and get stuck on the "good ol' days." Onward and upward!

Can we be honest? People who constantly speak about the good ol’ days are annoying. Whether they are stories of how great the person used to be or how great our country’s (the U.S.) morals use to be, they are annoying. I’m ready for fresh vision that points people toward Kingdom breakthrough!

Leaning One Way or Another

In a recent post, I defined a disciple as an intentional follower of Jesus, who is learning to be like him (character), while also learning to do what he did (competency). A person growing in both character and competency will eventually start seeing kingdom breakthrough (in the form of Luke 4:18, 19 and/or Matthew 11:2-5).

Many people, if they are honest, look at their lives and only see limited breakthrough. When I look in the rearview mirror, I see a lot of breakthrough in the beginning stages of the various ministries I have started, but limited to no breakthrough in later stages. This begs the question, “Why does breakthrough become more and more rare as I move forward in ministry?

If you find yourself asking this question, the answer, more than likely, is that you are leaning too much on either the character or the competency of Jesus. People may immediately be attracted to you because of your character or competency, but sooner or later your strength will become your downfall. As seen in the matrix above, a person with high character but no competency runs the risk of becoming intolerant, while the person with high competency but low character may find himself critical of others. Do either of the realities sound familiar? Are you tired of talking about the good ol’ days?

Competency

I typically lean more toward competency. I long to do the things that Jesus did. If I am not careful, though, my identity and self-worth gets wrapped up in how much stuff I do or that my community does that looks like Kingdom activity. As a “doer” type leader, Kingdom-type activity is often associated with or defined as busyness. Eventually, I look back and discover those who originally set out with me have been left behind or have given up.

The few that remain are often tired, stressed and/or incredibly cynical of those who could not bear the burdens I place on people. (P.S. These voices are poisonous for the “doer” type leader because it serves to justify or even glorify my hard work ethic.) It is important to understand that Kingdom activity is not and should not be directly associated with doing things. Yes, Kingdom activity is serving and loving your neighbor, but it is much more than this. The Kingdom that Jesus revealed, and Paul described and expressed, comes with power (miracles, healings, etc.).

Disciples, who focus primarily on competency, may see some success initially, but eventually they find themselves with little fruit and no followers. Why? This is due to immaturity. Immature disciples often choose to “do” rather than to be and listen to the Father. They move at their own accord. Eventually, these leaders become cynical, accusing others of not loving Jesus enough and/or being lazy and apathetic. These types of disciples are no fun to be around because they do not know how to relax and have fun.

If a “doer” type leader does see continued personal success, they lead as glory mongers robbing the glory due to God. Glory mongers forget they were representing the Father and began representing themselves. A mature disciple lives a humble life, knowing the work God wants to accomplish through her is done in the overflow of his relationship with her. The mature disciple understands that Christ’s strength is revealed and magnified in her weakness.

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Jeff Saferite
Jeff Saferite is a church planter, missional consultant, and discipleship coach. He is also currently working on a doctorate at Northern Seminary, focusing on church leadership in a post-Christian culture. You can follow him on Twitter (@jeffsaferite) or Facebook/jeffsaferite.