Any organization is only as healthy as its people. How do you build a healthy organization? Dr. Malcolm Webber answers this question in his presentation at the 2015 Hope International Leadership Summit.
Let’s think about Hope as an organization or a spiritual organism. We know that we want to be healthy in the whole organization. What constitutes a healthy organization? What does that mean, to be healthy in the whole spiritual organization? In order to answer that question, let’s think about our bodies, our physical bodies. How many of you would say that you’re healthy physically, basically healthy? I am. Most of us here, probably. How many of you would say that you are perfect physically? Not such a large overwhelming response on that one. You’re not going to be perfect, are you? Even those who look perfect … they’re just fake, they’ve been Photoshopped.
We’re not going to be perfect physically but we can be healthy physically. In the same way, Hope International will never be perfect organizationally – never, on this side of eternity – but we can be healthy. That’s our goal, to be healthy individually, to be healthy in our relationships, to be healthy as an organization. Keep that goal. Perfection is a really hard taskmaster, but you can be healthy.
Now let’s think what does healthy mean? Again to your physical body, what does it mean for you to be physically healthy? Let’s think in really simple terms what health is. If one part of me, say my hand or my kidneys or my eye or my toe is not healthy – is not doing what it’s supposed to be doing – what do you call me? “Sick” or “disabled,” or I’m unhealthy in some way. What is the definition of a healthy body? Every part is working. Every part, every member is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. That’s it. If you’ve got that, then you’re healthy in the whole organization; this is a really simple model. It’s the same for churches too. This is a healthy church. A healthy church is one in which every member is functioning in the way that it should be. When that happens, then we’re healthy.
It’s a cool way to approach it this way. Often, when we think about organizations, we approach it from the other angle and we start thinking about the processes and the systems and the structures and we end up with this long list of stuff that all needs to be in place and happening. Then we tend to get our eyes off the health of the people and more onto the issues of organizational complexity. This model’s really cool, really simple and it brings us back to the priority of the people. You’re healthy as an organization when your people are healthy. That’s it.
You don’t lose anything out of all of the impact and the outcomes and the outputs and the initiatives and all of that stuff; you don’t lose any of that. In fact, healthy people are the basis for that – the basis for sustainability and for broad impact, as we will see. Our definition of a healthy organization is very simply one in which every member is functioning as it should be.
That leads us to the next question. What then should each member be doing in order for us, as a whole, to be healthy? Let’s look please to Ephesians Chapter 4 and let’s read verse 16, right at the climax here of Paul’s core passage about the building of the church to maturity. “From Him, from Christ, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.” Here, Paul gives us a very clear and potent understanding of what a healthy organization looks like.
Notice a number of things. Firstly, he says, “From Him, the whole body,” which means every member of the organization is personally connected to the Lord Jesus, because life and health and blessing and everything comes from Him, not from our own capacity – not from our own ability to work together well organizationally – but from union with Christ, from corporate union with Christ, from individual union with Christ. So, every one of us connected personally, experiential union with the Lord Jesus, receiving from Him His life, His vision, His direction, His enabling, His power, His character, all that He is, all that He does.
That’s the first thing we see here. Every one of us must be united with Him. Are you going to be perfect in your union with Christ? Can you be healthy? That’s your goal. Then also in this passage, we see twice the idea that the health of the whole is the result of each of us individually doing what we should be doing. You notice halfway through “held together by every supporting ligament,” and then the last phrase, “as each part does its work.”
This is backwards from a Western paradigm. In the Western paradigm, we’re so individualistic and we usually see our corporate life as existing to serve our individual life. That’s why we’re part of a church. It’s so that I can grow. It’s so that I can function. It’s so that I can be what God has called me to be. Biblically, it’s exactly the opposite. This is why we need to be strong. This is why we need to know God and do well. It’s so that our corporate world, our corporate being can grow and mature and do well. Again, healthy Christian organization or Christian organism comes from each one of us doing well. That’s the goal. We have a means as we serve God, as we walk with God and live out of His life.
The first couple of things to see from this passage: there’s each one of us doing what we should be doing from the indwelling life of Christ, then the whole organization will do well. Again, what’s a healthy Christian organization? One in which every member is functioning as it should be. Where does that life ultimately come from? From Him – really simple. But what is it that every member should do? As it happens, Paul has already answered that in this very same verse. Look at this. The whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows, builds itself up in love as each part does its work. There are three things that every member needs to do in order for the organism as a whole to do well – three things. Remember this; it’s a really cool model, really simple, very practical, quite robust.
Number 1, each member needs to grow. Every supporting ligament grows. Secondly, each member needs to serve. This is at the end, as each part does its work. Thirdly, each member needs to build – to build others. Three things – grow, serve, build. Remember those three. If we as an organization have a culture and a practice of such nature – that every member is growing from Christ, in every area of life (think 5Cs) – every member, out of that inward life, is then serving and building others, and we will be healthy.
That’s what you’ve got to do. Grow, serve, build. Every one of us, and this is a little different mentality from how we usually approach organizations, isn’t it? Thinking of these three, which of these three usually gets the most focus in organization? Paul’s words here give us a wonderful return to a simple but quite profound model of life and health. Again, what’s the definition of a healthy organization? What’s your goal for the organization? Health, and you can be healthy. Every member is functioning as it should be.
What does that mean? What should each member in the organization be doing? Grow, serve and build. Think about the church for a moment and how wonderful this would be and how powerful is this bride of Christ, where every member is growing, serving and building. This is the parents building their own children. This is the leaders building the leaders. This is disciples building disciples. This is the old women building the younger women, older men building the younger men. Nurture across the life of the organism. This is how health occurs and this shows us that each one of us has responsibility to be building others.
We want to be sure that as we’re embracing a vision and a culture of staff development across the life of the organization, we’re not simple seeing, “Well, hey, that’s cool.” That means now the other leaders, they’re responsible for building me … and so we just become passive, like what we do at church. That’s the pastor’s job. He’s responsible for discipling the new believers and for raising up the leader, for building my children. That’s what we pay them for. That’s a dysfunctional church. Remember, a healthy body is one in which every member is functioning, in which every member is growing, serving and building. Think of this.
Each one of us is directly responsible for our own growth, for faithfully, with initiative, with creativity, with action, doing what we’re supposed to do. Not just the bare minimum but thinking and acting, serving, and where each one of us is taking responsibility for being a part of the broad corporate building process, building life, taking responsibility for each other to build and nurture life.
Here’s your first assignment in your pairs or in your threes. Just a quick reflection; we’ll spend a minute or two, quietly reflecting upon your own life so far, in Hope, not outside. Let’s focus on our life here as a part of this organization where God has called us to be. How have you been doing growing? How have you been doing serving? How have you been doing building others? Let’s reflect individually on our own lives as a part of Hope International and let’s share with one another if I’ve been doing well, or do I need to grow in each of these three areas. Let’s do that now please.
By way of affirmation, we heard yesterday some fantastic affirmations of a culture in which we are taking responsibility for nurturing and building each other in life. But of course we all need to grow in all of these three areas, and our goal ultimately is a culture across the life of the organization, where every member is taking personal responsibility thinking and acting to grow, serve and build. Culture means shared belief, values, attitudes, actions, heritage, language. That’s what culture is, when we share those things – beliefs, values, attitudes, actions, heritage, language.
This is our goal, if we can actually pull this off, keeping the focus on the building of the people, resisting the temptation as the ministry continues to grow, the temptation every ministry faces. We start out doing it together and loving one another and really focus on Christ and on each other, but then as the organizational demands get bigger, it becomes the path of least resistance to focus on the work. Then God calls us back to Himself, to our first love, to the simplicity of Christ, a simple Hope. A part of that is calling us back to a focus on life, on Him and on each other. If we can actually do this, if we can maintain a corporate culture of every member growing, serving, building, God can continue to grow and grow and wonderfully bless the ministry in the years to come.
Our goal is a culture. Now let’s do a little bit of work. I know you’re really good at serving. I know you’re good at growing and I know you’re good at building, but let’s do a little bit of work on growing and building anyway. Here is where the 5C/Four Dynamic or the RISE model comes in. It gives us a wonderful language, a unified language that captures actually what is in reality a very complicated, sophisticated life transformation process, but it sums it up in a simple clear way that everyone can understand, everyone can immediately implement.
The cool thing about 5Cs and the Four Dynamics is: here’s your goal in growth in your own life, to build in these five areas, and actually it does include everything. The way in which you build in those five areas is Four Dynamics. This is your goal and this is the means by which you accomplish that goal. Anyone can understand that. It only takes you two hands to explain it and you’ve still got a spare thumb. Really simple. That works in any culture. We use this model in cultures all over the world. We use it at all levels of education, from grassroots people who can’t read to Ph.Ds in the cities. We use this in working with children in extremely large children’s ministries. We use this with building young people with camps in discipleship, in leader development, emerging leaders, existing leaders, in the building of families. Every kind of life transformation, every kind of growth and building, you can explain and do well by using this simple model.
Let’s have a look please at Philippians 1. This gives us a clear basis for a corporate culture of growth and building. Philippians Chapter 1 and let’s read verses 9 to 11, and as we read through this, look please for the 5Cs. “This is my prayer. This is what God’s purpose for you is as I’m praying that He do it, that your love may abound more and more.” Which of the Cs? “That your love may abound more and more.” Which of the Cs? Community, your love for each other. “In knowledge and depth of insight.” Which of the Cs? Competencies. “So that you may be able to discern what is best.” This is an issue with purpose here; discern the purpose of God. Which of the Cs? “That you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, being filled with the fruit of righteousness.” Which of the Cs? The fruit of righteousness? Character. Not that we’re trying to draw hard lines between them but there is a clarity, and ultimately, it all comes through union with Jesus Christ.
This is our goal in a single passage, our goal when we are growing in our own lives, our goal when we are helping others to build. Now let’s summarize the process. Look in I Thessalonians please, and this time let’s look for the Four Dynamics. This passage in I Thessalonians is fantastic because Paul gives us here a summary of what he did, of how he brought life, often in a very short time to groups of people – life that was sustainable. We can see here in this passage how it was that Paul would go into a new area. Sometimes, he would just spend a few days or weeks there before getting run off but then he’s able to come back four or more years later and they’re doing well.
That is so mind-blowing for us, because we think, “Man, you just came to Christ. You need five years of my training before I’m going to trust you to do anything.” We tend to think that. We try to fill them up with all this stuff. What Paul did, he brought them face to face with a deep spiritual reality. He brought them into an encounter with life, the possession of life, of life together by the presence of the Spirit, through the truth of the Word. It was so real and transformational that it continued, not without problems. Was Paul’s goal perfection? No. He had problems, yes; but they were healthy.
Let’s look at how Paul accomplished this in I Thessalonians 1. This is our process for growth in our own lives and also when we’re building others. I Thessalonians 1, verse 5, “Our gospel came to you, not simply with words,” which means it came with words. Which dynamic? Which of the RISE elements? Instructional dynamic, but “not only with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” Which dynamic? Spiritual dynamic, and “you know how we lived among you for your sake.” Which dynamic? Relational dynamic, “and then you became imitators of us and of the Lord.” You obeyed the teaching. You acted on the word. Which dynamic? “In spite of severe suffering in the midst of challenge and pressure and fire.” Which dynamic? Experiential dynamic. “You welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” Which dynamic?
Again we see the deep spiritual dynamic of Paul’s ministry. As a result of this, as a result of this interaction of the spiritual, relational, experiential and instructional dynamics, you did well. You became healthy. Look at this, you became a model to all the believers in your whole region. Wow, healthy. Not perfect; they certainly weren’t perfect. Paul goes on and he corrects various issues in this letter. Normal people just like we are, but you became healthy and not only were you healthy in a sort of self-absorbed way – “We’re healthy, aren’t we great?” – but from you, there was deep, lasting, extensive ministry impact. Verse 8, “the Lord’s message rang out from you, not only in your region but everywhere.”
We see how the whole model here of life transformation, the four dynamics woven together, bringing deep change of life, sustainable life transformation, creates organizational health. You can do this in your own life. You need to; use the 5Cs to identify specific goals of development, and then use the Four Dynamics to create your particular plan for addressing these areas.
Let’s close our eyes, let’s inwardly look at the Lord Jesus, inwardly where He lives by his Spirit. Let’s wait upon Him and ask Him, which of these 5Cs in my own life do I need to be growing in right now? Of course, we need to be growing in all five but which one does the Holy Spirit want to put His finger on? Which particular area within the 5Cs? In a moment, we’ll just wait on God. Waiting on God is not a passive state. Waiting on God is not where we try to go blank. That’s Buddhist meditation and I know that’s becoming really trendy and popular in the Western world and including in the church, sad to say, but that is not a biblically healthy practice. Inwardly waiting on God is where we turn to Him. It’s very active. We look at Him. He’s in you, Christ in you, the Hope of glory.
He’s there. Look at Him. Turn to Him. Love Him. Thank Him. Worship Him. Ask Him, “Lord, what are you saying to me?” As you do that, keep your inward ears open. Listen to Him. Wait upon Him. Let Him put His finger upon a particular area in your life that you need to work on right at this point in time. Let’s do that now please, each of us; if we would just close our eyes so we’re not distracted and let’s inwardly turn to the Lord Jesus with love, with surrender, with worship, with adoration, requesting, “Lord, what is it?”
There is in our spiritual lives and our fellowship with God, our surrender in fear of God, our security in Jesus’ love and our prayer life and our time in the world; there’s the idolatry in our lives. Is it in the area of the second C, in community? Perhaps in marriage, in our family, in our relationships with each other, forgiveness toward others, servanthood toward others. How we respond to conflict? Is it an area of character? On perseverance, holiness, taking responsibility for our own physical care, how we handle money, material stuff. Is it in area of calling? Are we growing in our own sense, strong sense, of destiny and purpose? Are we really seeking the approval of God or are we more interested in the approval of others? What motivates us? Is it really His calling or is it just the requirements of our position?
Are we truly pursuing the calling of God or have we slid into pursuing our own self-centered ambition? Are there particular areas in our competencies and with our ability to think, our capacity to act and function in the various ways that we need to? Just pick one area and I know there were many that came to mind. Just pick one area that you’re going to work on right now. Let’s share that now, back and forth please.
Each of us has now established one simple clear goal of growth in our lives. Now let’s work on the process and we’re going to think through the first dynamic, the spiritual dynamic. Again, let’s each of us, quiet before God, let’s close our eyes just for a few seconds. Let’s look inwardly. Let’s turn to God, look to Him. Look away from your own worry and your own fear and your own pressure that you bring yourself under and just look at Him and say, “Lord, you’re searching my heart now. Show me, how do I move ahead?” Let’s think spiritual dynamics first.
This would be prayer, receiving prayer, meditation in the Word, memorization of Scriptures, praying the Scriptures, confessing sin, forgiveness, listening to God, worship, praise, waiting on God, reflection, contemplation, journaling, fasting, silence, spiritual rest, retreat – so many ways in which we can grow spiritually. Let’s establish one thing that reflects a spiritual dynamic, in order for us to grow in the particular area in which we need to grow. Identify one spiritual dynamic please and write that down now on your page. We’re creating a personal growth plan, a Four Dynamic plan, a holistic plan.
Now let’s again pause, let’s close our eyes, inwardly wait on God and let’s ask God to direct us in what specific spiritual dynamic would help us to grow to achieve the particular area of growth we’ve identified. Relational dynamic – this can involve friends, families, spiritual mothers and fathers, role models, mentors, examples, coaches, team learnings, small groups, networking, reflection together, prayer for each other, support, nurture, biographies, encouragement, accountability, evaluation, counseling, correction – so many different ways in which we can interact together for life.
Again, please identify one particular relational dynamic, one particular action that captures a relational dynamic that will help you to grow in a particular area that you’ve established and write that down now please. First of all, we identified a particular goal using the 5Cs as our framework. Now we’re working on the process, the process of change, the process of life transformation in order to achieve this goal, in order to grow in this particular way, and we’re thinking through the Four Dynamics. We’re committing them to God. Firstly, we looked at the spiritual dynamic, direct connection with God. Secondly, we’re asking how we can involve others in this process of growth – relational dynamics.
Now let’s work on the experiential dynamic. Again, let’s pause, let’s close our eyes, turn inwardly to God, asking Him for His wisdom or His strategy – experiential dynamic. This is stuff like challenging assignments, learning by doing, success, fruitfulness, suffering, pressure, crises, responsibilities, failure, discipline, serving, receiving ministry from others, praying for others – so many different kinds of experiential dynamics. This is how we learn. We learn by doing, and when we’re walking ahead in areas that are beyond our control, it forces us to look to God and we find Him in a deeper way and He changes us. Please write that down now. Which area of spiritual dynamic, which specific action?
As you’re thinking through these various things, try to engage as much as possible with what is already going on in your life. There’s already so much around you that’s occurring without you having to necessarily create some new thing. Quite likely, we’re already so busy and we’re not trying to just add stuff to our busy schedule, but instead interact more wisely, more intentionally, more transformationally with the opportunities we already have around us – the spiritual, relational, experiential opportunities.
It doesn’t become just another burden, just another thing we need to do but it becomes much more easily and naturally a part of life transformation. Finally, let’s think about the instructional dynamic. Again, let’s pause quietly. Let’s turn inwardly to the Lord Jesus, by His Spirit in our hearts – instructional dynamic. How are we going to grow in this particular area that we’ve identified? Things like teaching, study questions, dialogue, reading, problem-based learning, interaction with leaders and teachers, brainstorming, puzzles, poetry, drama, Q&A, debates, interviewing – all different kinds of learning, instructional dynamics.
Let’s write one particular way in which we can grow by instructional dynamic in the area of life transformation that we’ve identified. You’ve identified the goal, the life transformational goal. Now you’re creating a path of change of growth.
Obviously, we’ve just spent a couple of minutes – literally a couple of minutes – doing this and you get what you pay for. If you would spend more time before God with each other, you can see what you could do using these simple frameworks. You can build a very robust path of transformation by using this model, very simple but quite robust. What’s our goal for the organization in one simple idea? What’s our goal for Hope International? Think of your body again, real simple. What should every member be doing? Growing, serving, building. Who is responsible for that? What are you responsible for? What else are you responsible for?
Building others – being a part of a continuous culture of nurture and life transformation across the life of the organism. That’s when we’re healthy. In order to have that shared culture of life transformation, we need a simple unified language, and the 5C/Four Dynamic/ RISE model gives you that language. What’s the goal of life transformation? To grow in each of these areas. You must grow in all five. If you miss one, you will pay a price.
Think about leaders you have known. That’s our goal – to grow and to help others to grow, to be a part of the building process in all five areas. How do we achieve that? How do we achieve growth? That sounds rather hard to do, rather complicated and difficult and spiritual. How do we achieve that? Four Dynamics. What are those Four Dynamics? Which of those is least important? Easy, that’s right – you must be strong in all four. That’s the key. Build all five elements using all Four Dynamics. You will do really well. Do it with one another and you’ll be healthy and you will continue to impact the nations as you have been doing and may God continue to take you from glory to glory, in union with Him for the sake of the nations. God bless you. Thank you.