Proving Ground

Do You Trust God With What's Next?

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Proving Ground - Part 4

God has big plans for your life but there are tests along the way to fulfilling His promises. In our last week of the Proving Ground series, we are taking a look at two tests that will determine your level of trust in God; a key to overcoming anything.

Today is our last installment of the Proving Ground series. Here is a recap of the first 7 tests:

  1. The Test of Small Things
  2. The Motivation Test
  3. The Credibility Test
  4. The Wilderness Test
  5. The Authority Test
  6. The Warfare Test
  7. The Offence Test

8. The Test of Time

Many people live on the sidelines of life as if waiting to be called into the game. But life is a continual unfolding of opportunities. In order to make the most of these, it is important that we prepare. You must ask:

What do I pay attention to?  vs.  What grabs my attention?

If you take the time to plan, you can list out what you will pay attention to and that will help you focus when things come along and grab your attention.

Focus on your why - Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is my problem to solve? When you have clear answers to those questions, you can prioritize your time.

In the Bible, great leaders learned to think both short-term and long-term. They learned to trust God even when it meant waiting. In order for us to do this, we must understand that there is purpose in these seasons of waiting. As James said, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." There is purpose in every season and knowing that allows me to think both long-term and short-term at the same time.

9. The Lordship Test

For centuries, theologians have debated how to balance our free will with the sovereignty of God. In Proving Ground, Gerald addressed this topic very well. He said that trying to pick either free will or sovereignty is a "dumb dichotomy." It is not one or the other, it is both.

God's will is that we would will His will. So while we take comfort that God is in control, we must take great honour and pride in the fact that we have an opportunity to carry out His plans and purposes here on earth. Passing the Lordship Test brings us to believe that God is always right.

Proving Ground Within the Church

It doesn't matter where we are and what we are currently doing, we each have to pass these nine tests continually. God is not concerned with how many people attend your church; He is looking for us to be faithful with what we have. He is moved by the individual lives that are changed with the gospel we share. Why? Because the church is the hope of the world and we have a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

 

If you have enjoyed this series, we would highly recommend you purchase your own copy of Proving Ground. If you'd like to purchase one, you can find it here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Will You Choose to Be An Overcomer?

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Proving Ground - Part 3

Do you find yourself questioning the authority of those in your life? Do you struggle to see yourself as God sees you? Do you find yourself becoming easily offended? All of these things have the tendency to test us. How do we overcome these trials?

We are tackling tests 5, 6, and & 7 from Proving Ground by Kevin Gerald today. Here is a recap of the first 4:

  1. The Test of Small Things
  2. The Motivation Test
  3. The Credibility Test
  4. The Wilderness Test

5. The Authority Test

As Christians, it is important for us to remember that when authority fails or when we disagree with their direction, God is looking at our response. The ability to respond properly and without rebellion is the purpose of this test.

The right response can never include a physical or verbal attack. The right response can never include a demonstration of anger or hostility. The right response can never stir up strife by rallying support for your position.

When you disagree, the right response includes challenging the process without challenging the authority of the leader. We must be public raving fans and honest private critics.

Often when delegating tasks, it's easy for us to blame failure on the person whom we have delegated the job to. But as leaders, we must take responsibility for every failure and give credit for every win. Delegation never relieves you of responsibility.

6. The Warfare Test

The fight for our future is more internal than external. In the book, Gerald says, "The greatest enemy of your future is not what happens, but it's how you see yourself when it happens."

When you face a challenge or setback, how do you see yourself? How do you respond? A breakthrough champion is not one who has a life free from adversity; they are overcomers.

The key ingredient to being a champion is choosing to be a champion. Our inner strength is built up when we face adversity and overcome it. You must see your self as God sees you because He sees you as a champion.

Putting yourself down doesn't lift God up. Shrinking back from adversity doesn't make Him happy because it is impossible to please Him without faith. Faith requires us to press on beyond what we can see or what we can feel and to instead lean on Him and what He sees and says.

People who hesitate in making a choice to be a champion are people who are looking at their own weaknesses. They see all of their failures and shortcomings, but overcomers see God's strength in their weakness.

7. The Offence Test

Jesus lived from a place of knowing who He was and not allowing Himself to be defined by what people said about Him. In order to become like this, we must realize that feelings of offence are unavoidable. The key is in what you do with that feeling.

You have to push past the feeling and choose to forgive - choose to overlook the offence so that you don't get bogged down by it.

There are three relationship principles that help us avoid the offence trap.

  1. Accurately define your role in the relationship. If the roles are unclear, those involved are more vulnerable to offence. If tension exists in a relationship, then chances are good that someone involved is not considering or respecting roles.
  2. Assume the best about others. When you feel a sense of offence, step back and ask yourself, "Why would this person intentionally try to hurt me?" If you're being honest, they probably weren't intending to hurt you. Asking yourself this question gives others the benefit of the doubt and helps you avoid the risk of judging them falsely.
  3. Don't meddle. Avoid involving yourself in other people's affairs unless you are invited. This prevents you from carrying a third-hand offence that isn't yours to carry.

Gerald claims that the number one reason people live offended is due to unfulfilled expectations. This includes expectations that are often unspoken, unmet, or unrealistic. When dealing with this, label the expectation. Ask yourself, "Why am I offended? What was my expectation?" When the expectation is labelled, we can more easily communicate the expectation to the other person and either alter our expectation or they can more easily change theirs.

Solomon said it is to one's glory to overlook an offence. When we are trapped in the muck and mire of bitterness and unforgiveness, we are hindered from moving forward. Our mission is too great to be sidetracked by something as small as an offence. Why? Because the church is the hope of the world and we have a vision to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

 

We would highly encourage all of our listeners to purchase their own copy of Proving Ground as we discuss this book together. If you'd like to purchase one, you can find them here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Are You Willing to Change?

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Proving Ground - Part 2

In order to reach the next level in your life, change is inevitable. We can't progress if we are stuck in our old ways. If you want to reach the next level, it's time that you implement some healthy habits into your routine.

We are picking up where we left off last week with our Proving Ground series. Here's a recap of the first two tests Kevin Gerald discusses in the book:

  1. The Test of Small Things - This test comes to prove a leader’s potential for greater opportunities.
  2. The Motivation Test - You could be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, so this test challenges the why behind what you do.

Let's dive into the next two!

3. The Credibility Test

This test will prove that you maintain integrity, refusing to compromise ethics and morals in pressured circumstances.

Credibility is a combination of what you do, who you are, and how others view you. Gaining and maintaining credibility is what opens the door to a leader's next opportunity. Even Jesus had to build credibility.

Earning credibility requires competence, including the skills needed for the role you're playing as well as the appropriate knowledge and the right kind of habits. Competence is credibility based on what a leader can do today. So how can today's leaders maintain competence for tomorrow?

More than ever before, it is vital that today's leaders are good self-developers. You have to equip yourself so that you can remain competent. Yesterday's success may be applauded, respected, or honoured, but competence is credibility based on what you can do today. This credibility is earned by performance, not respect, love, honesty, courage, or other important virtues.

Leaders commonly fall into the negativity trap, seeing only problems and not solutions. In Proving Ground, Gerald lists six questions a leader can ask themselves to avoid negativity:

  1. What do I think about the most?
  2. How do I respond to problems or difficulties?
  3. What do I do when I hear negative feedback?
  4. How comfortable am I with failure or defeat?
  5. What kind of people do I get along well with?
  6. How do I respond to positive information?

Our sphere of influence is enlarged when we pass the credibility test.

4. The Wilderness Test

When you’re in a drought or dry season, this test will prove your potential to make the changes necessary to enter the level of maturity and prosperity in your life.

One strong characteristic of the wilderness is a lifestyle of routine. The way out of the wilderness requires change and breaking the status quo. Our tendency as leaders is to shrink back from making the necessary changes because it is easier to become comfortable with habits of routine.

We cannot have progress without change. Not all changes lead to progress, but all progress requires change. We have to push past the fear of change and learn to embrace change as a positive thing.

Just like a desert lacks the resources to provide life and vitality, a dry mind and spirit lack the ability to provide those things that bring growth. I have to personally worship God. I have to read the Bible to feed my faith. I have to pray and connect with God. I have to feed my mind with knowledge by reading books and listening to podcasts.

The church at Pentecost had to change in order to move forward. What motivated them was a strong faith in the future. In Philippians 3, Paul says, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

"Pressing on" is the key to getting out of the wilderness. Paul's motivation for pressing on was the prize of doing God's calling; the vision to bring Jesus to a hopeless world. To build His church. Because the church is the hope of the world and we have a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

 

We would highly encourage all of our listeners to purchase their own copy of Proving Ground as we discuss this book together. If you'd like to purchase one, you can find them here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Are You Prepared For the Next Level?

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Proving Ground - Part 1

Testing always precedes promotion. We aren't able to move to the next level that God has for us without experiencing some degree of a trial. Are you prepared for the tests that are coming your way?

Recently we were introduced to a book by Pastor Kevin Gerald called Proving Ground. This book has been very timely for us and, while simple in its approach, it is a great reminder of the fact that testing precedes promotion.

There is a big difference between God testing us and the devil tempting us. The purpose of a test is to prove a product or to prove what you have already learned. Sin, on the other hand, is a device used to cause you to stumble and sin.

James 1:13 says, "no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He tempt anyone." When God tests you, it is always for your benefit. When you battle temptation it is always for your destruction.

God will sometimes allow temptation and use it as a test to prove us, much like what happened in the wilderness when the devil tempted Jesus. God used this to prove and propel Jesus into His ministry.

Let's start discussing the tests described in Proving Ground.

1. The Test of Small Things

This test comes to prove a leader's potential for greater opportunities.

In the book, Gerald says, "We cannot get to where we want to go tomorrow if we are always trying to bypass our today." We all have the tendency to want to bypass practice for game-day, but you don't become the champion in the ring; you become a champion in the gym. It's how you prepare that makes a difference.

Sometimes I test my leaders myself by giving them small tasks just to see how they will react and what their attitude will reveal. How they react will show me whether or not they are ready for something bigger.

If you as a leader are disciplined in growing yourself, it is inevitable that you will outgrow what you are leading right now. What you are overseeing now will suddenly feel too small and you will be in search of something bigger. Raise up leaders, grow your team, and invest in them even when you are tempted to begin investing elsewhere. Having the patience to finish well will better prepare you for what's next.

2. The Motivation Test

You could be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, so this test challenges the why behind what you do.

Jesus taught us that there are two ways to see what is within a person's heart:

a) By the words they speak (Matthew 12:34).

b) By the way they spend their money (Matthew 6:21).

Both of these things help us to determine the motives of others as well as the motives of ourselves.

Motives are tested when we don't feel appreciated or wanted. One of the most common motives for a leader is the desire to please people. However, a leader who seeks only to please his followers will compromise the organization's goals to keep the peace and the organization will stop growing. It's a fine line, but Solomon said it this way in Proverbs 29:25, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." In other words, our ultimate motivation should be to please God, not man.

There are seasons where we find ourselves giving more than we are receiving. In order to get through these times, begin asking yourself a series of motives questions; What are you doing this for? Who are you doing this for? Why did you start doing this in the first place? When you started, did you expect it to be easy?

The best way to keep a check on your motives is through prayer. If we constantly cast all of our cares on God and lean into Him, He will make our paths straight.

I like what Gerald said in his book; "the definition of a motive is the compelling force behind our actions." For me, the compelling force behind my actions is Jesus. What He did for me personally causes me to want to share that hope with others. What He commanded me to do - to go into all the world and preach the gospel - gives me a lifelong mission to fight for.

I have seen the effect He has on my life and it keeps me going - regardless of opposition - because the church is the hope of the world, and we have a vision to reach every available person, at every available time, bu every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

 

We would highly encourage all of our listeners to purchase their own copy of Proving Ground as we discuss this book together. If you'd like to purchase one, you can find them here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.