Understanding the potential of Greatness
They are looking at the family team. They see those two coaches over there, Mom and Dad. Dad is watching yet another golf tournament. Mom is preparing a bottle. They look at their sister playing with Barbies and they say to themselves in their little brains, “I am going to run the team. I am going to take it over.” And these little babies begin to test the boundaries, the goal lines, the hash marks.
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They want desperately for flags to be thrown, whistles to be blown and penalties to be assessed. We are fashioned to live and do life on God’s playing field with His rules.
Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” Over the last five years, how many times have we seen Emmett Smith break a long run and the announcers say this. “Look at Emmett Smith, he might go all the way. Touchdown. Cowboys.” Then they say, “Let’s look at this on the instant replay. Look at those moves. Emmett has worked hard but you just can’t teach some of those moves.” What are they saying here? They are saying that some of Emmy’s talent and skill is genetic.
Well, if those announcers watched us perform, foul up and mess up and fall short, from the baby swing on, they would say, “You can’t teach it. It is sinetic.” We have a sin nature.
So I have been a part, in kind of a strange way, of a functioning grounds crew.Parents, we make a couple of major mistakes when we do the grounds crew thing. The first mistake is that a lot of us constantly change the goal line, the side lines and the hash marks. The field is in a constant state of flux. What was a touchdown last week, is a penalty this week. And our children don’t really know where everything is located and it makes them timid and sometimes it can lead to major league rebellion.
Another mistake that we make, parents, and this one staggers me, is allowing the children to mark off their own field. We say, “You determine your own destiny. You know a lot. Go ahead and line off your playing field.” Parents, this leads to some serious, serious trouble. Proverbs 29:15, “A child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” You could rephrase it to read that a child who lines off his own field brings shame to his mother.
Don’t you know he was thinking about his parents’ directives? Don’t you know he was thinking about the things he had missed? Don’t you know that? Don’t you just feel for him? Opportunity after opportunity wasted. At any one of those steps he could have stopped and discovered the situation, but he did not.
Is that it? Did God leave him in that state? Did God leave him in that Philistine grain mill; his eyes gouged out and in chains, dejected, depressed, despondent, and realizing the missed potential? Did God leave him that way? No.
I mean, I would be a fool to end it here because the Scripture tells us in Judges 16:22, I love this, “But the hair on his head began to grow again.”
That’s an artistic device. That means he began to repent. He began to have a change of mind. Because the secret wasn’t in the hair. The hair was just a symbol of an inward commitment. God, though, is beginning to forgive him and restore Samson as Samson is crying out to him. The hair on his head began to grow. And the Philistines, they didn’t notice. They didn’t notice it.
There was a big worship service for the god Dagon. And the Philistines wanted to bring Samson out to show everyone how their god had defeated the gods of the neighboring nations, and especially the God of Israel. So Samson was brought out, made fun of, cursed, and abused.
Samson asked the kid who was leading him, “Hey, take me beside some of the columns that hold up the building.” He knew the architecture. So the kid brought him over to the columns and Samson said this.
There’s a seventh language…time. You say, “Ed, I best show my love by quantity time, by chilling out, by relaxing, just by being there. I’m not a big talker, I’m not a big toucher, I’m not a big pass person. I’m not into the trinkets or toil. I like to spend time. Not tackle somebody; time.”
Let’s go back very quickly. How many touch people do we have? Don’t be shy. Raise your hand. Your first response is touch. How many talkers do we have? I’m a talker. Talkers. Yes. Hands are going up everywhere. They say if you’re a talker, you have an IQ of over 180. Did you know that? How about task, servers? Great. It’s amazing the balance. Toil people? How about treasure/trinket? Alright. Tackle people? Time people? I’ll give you a couple of moments because it’s important to get a lock on the language that you reflexively speak.
Here’s the second question. Not only is it important to understand the language you speak, but secondly, it’s important to identify the kind of language that you best respond to from others. Identify the language that you best respond to from others. In other words, what kind of language do I need to hear from my parents, spouse, children, friends, countrymen? What do I best respond to? Take the list, we’ll go through it again very rapidly. Touch. Do you need touch? Think about the people in your life. I was wondering about my six-year-old daughter, LeeBeth. Yesterday morning I was preparing this sermon, 6:30 a.m. on the kitchen table. I hear LeeBeth. She walks into the den and I looked at her and said, “LeeBeth, good morning. What are you doing up so early?” She didn’t say a word. She walks over to me, crawls in my lap, puts her arms around me and hugs me.
She pours this concoction I into a giant frozen mug and she’ll usually give me some whole wheat bagels with honey, bring them up to where I’m getting ready, the coffee…and she’s communicating to me, “I love you by serving you.” Maybe you’re a task person.
The fourth language, the toil people. You say, “I work fifty hours a week. I give you the paycheck. Look at the apartment, the home, the condo, whatever,” and that’s the way you communicate love. I’m not saying one is right and one is wrong. That’s the way you are wired up.
We also have treasure people. That’s the fifth language of love. The treasure people. Or you could call them the trinket people. You’re the kind of person that keeps the trinket shops solvent. You go on a trip and it’s like a school of blue sharks in a feeding frenzy. You hit the little nick-knack, bric-a-brac stores and you buy a little coffee and little rings and potpourri. Most of the time women do this and this is great. You give these little gifts out to your friends because that’s an expression of your love. Maybe you’re a trinket person, a treasure person. Those words can be used interchangeably.
The sixth language of love, the tackle people. Tackle people. We have a lot of tackle people here. I’m talking about men and women. Tackle people are individuals who open up opportunities for those they love to tackle new horizons, new adventures, and while you’re tackling this opportunity, you know because this person opened this huddle up for you, “they’re expressing their love to me”. My father is a lot like that. He tells me and told me often when I was growing up how much he loved me, but many times, he would open up challenges for my brothers and me and we knew that dad was communicating love to us.
That’s a tall order for someone like you and someone like me.
Think about those that we work with or maybe people who report to you. Maybe you’re a teacher. Maybe you’re a coach. Maybe you’re a pastor. Maybe you’re a manager. Think about the people that support you, who help you, who report to you. Do you, in turn, support them? Do you help them? Do you see their uniqueness? Because I have a tendency, as a leader, to sometimes try to make people like me, like I would react, like I would think, like I would do a certain thing.
Over the last several days we’ve had a Creative Church Conference. And we had 2400 pastors come in from all across North America and the world. And one of the biggest questions they asked was this, “How do you hire staff? And how do you deal with staff?”
Well, my answer is this. I try to hire people better than me. I try to hire people who are smart where I’m stupid. I try to hire people who are strong where I am weak. But my temptation is to take people and sometimes try to make them like me. I’ve got to see and support their uniqueness. I’ve got to applaud them and give them the high fives because they’re different.
And, parents, it’s a tough deal. Managers, that’s a difficult, difficult situation. The Bible says in 1 Corintians 13:5 (NLT), “Love does not demand its own way.”
Whenever I think about supporting and seeing the uniqueness of people, I think about my close friend, Preston Mitchell. Preston is Executive Pastor here at Fellowship Church and he oversees the student ministry. He has a son named Cameron, and Cameron is pretty tall. He’s like 6’3 and he’s a sophomore. Preston loves baseball; Cameron does not love baseball.
. And I see it’s about righteousness and about holiness. Wow, it is about engaging the enemy. I feel like I’m in a faith fight because hey, you can mark this one down here, the Christian life is not a playground, it’s a battle ground. Say that with me, it’s not a playground, it’s a battle ground.
But I don’t know about you I want the blessings, and so do you, without the battle. That’s what we want. God, bless my socks off and back on again. I want the blessings. I want your favor. Well, that’s great. God is going to bless your life and mine but it is about engaging the enemy. It is about a faith fight. It is about a battle. It is about adventure and excitement. So the Bible tells us that. The Bible says that a dream will tether our today to tomorrow. It is about engagement. It is about momentum. I like what Joshua 3:9 says, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. This is how you will know,” again, we are talking about knowledge, “this is how you will know that the living God is among you.”
Now as the whole Ark moved on and as the people followed, Joshua said you’re going to know which way to go. Now in verses 9 and 10 he says you’re going to know which way to go and that “the living God is amongst you as he will drive out,” this is huge here, “before you” and I love these names “the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites and the lustites and the materialismites and the greedites and the gluttonessites and all sorts of ‑ites.
You do what you want to do. Whatever is true to you, that’s true to you. Whatever you do in the privacy of our own home, if you don’t hurt anybody, that’s cool.” That sounds so PC, doesn’t it? So hip, so vogue. It sounds like “Yeah, I understand that.” The problem is, if we live our lives that way, one day the waves of erosion will overtake us and destroy who we are. I’ll say it once again: the waves of erosion are tearing our culture apart.
Now what if I ask you this, what if I said, “Do you think homosexuality is wrong? Do you think sex outside of marriage is wrong? Do you think taking the Lord’s name in vain is wrong? Do you think stealing is wrong? Do you think lying is wrong?” Most of us in this place, I didn’t say all, most of us would say, “Yeah, I believe that Ed. Yeah, I’m with you.”
Well what if we could put you on the O’Reilly Factor and what if Bill O’Reilly looked at you and rolled the three hundred dollar Monte Blanc pen between his index finger and thumb and what if he said, “OK, I hear that you think that homosexuality is wrong. I hear that you think lying is wrong and cheating is wrong. Why? Sir, Ma’am, just tell me why. Why do you believe that?” Some of us would respond, “Well, uh, Mr. Reilly, I don’t know. I guess because it’s bad for you and it will mess your life up. It might give you a disease and…” He would say, “No, no, no, that’s situational ethics. Why? Give me some rationale. Give me some reasons. Use your mind. Why is it wrong?”
This week, because we’re going to have sex so much, we have got to talk. We have got to deal with these issues. We have to be intimate. I like that word, intimacy. Into me, see? The closer I get to Lisa, the more I see my good and my bad; the more I see Lisa’s good and Lisa’s bad.
My favorite musician has got to be Bono. I think the guy is a really cool guy. I love U2 and I love their music. I have seen them in concert. I have sat in the nosebleed sections several times.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to have coffee with Bono, and just a few people. [A picture is put on the side screens of Ed and Bono together.] Bono, right there, we had coffee. And it was really great to talk to him and to hear and to see his heart and his passion. He is really a very humble guy. I really like him.
But one of the things, one of the negative things I saw about Bono and you can’t tell in that picture ‑‑ the dude had dirt all up under his fingernails. That was just odd to me. Bono. The guy is probably worth a billion dollars. He had dirty fingernails. I’m like, “That’s weird.” So I saw the good, I heard more good and felt more good than bad. The only bad I saw was the dirt under the fingernails. But I did see that, because I got so close to him.
When we get close to our spouse, when we make love regularly, we see the good. But also, we see the dirt under our spouse’s fingernails. And guess what? We see it under our fingernails, as well. And lot of people don’t want to mess with that. You start to get too intimate, too close. That is why this sexperiment is so amazing and so awesome.