Shift 3 – From More Guilt to More Love
In this ongoing series, we’re homing in on each of these shifts. Our last two posts focused on shift 1 and shift 2. This week, longtime Exponential friend, pastor and author Rob Wegner helps us unpack shift 3: From More Guilt to More Love through the lens of Ephesians chapter 3.
More Guilt to More Love Through Personal Calling
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul prays that the “people he loves” would know the deep love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge. Paul tells us that as we walk and abide in that love for us, that love will overflow through us to those around us.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19).
If you’re like us and many other leaders we talk to, we truly want the people in our churches to be filled beyond measure by finding their personal calling—for the purpose of expressing the deep love of Christ and His fullness to others. But executing that is the problem. We aren’t sure how to help them find that calling AND keep our churches going. That second part gets us into trouble because that’s when we tend to shift our motivation from love to guilt.
If we’re honest, sometimes we mobilize people through guilt.
Paul reminds us that the only sufficient motivation for mobilizing God’s people is love—not guilt. To pour the fullness of Jesus into others, we must first be filled with the fullness of Jesus’ love. As leaders, we’re called to motivate people to serve by helping them understand how loved they are in Christ.
We were made to love more. And the people we shepherd were made to love more.
His love is the only sufficient motivation for our mission to More. To express the fullness of Jesus to others, we must have the fullness of Jesus in us.
A Helpful Framework for Personal Calling
In his book, More: Find Your Personal Calling and Live Life to the Fullest Measure, Exponential Founder Todd shares an important and effective framework (BE-DO-GO) we can help people begin to identify their personal calling and then mobilize them out of love, not guilt. In his research for the book, Todd learned that over the centuries, theologians have written about our “dual-sided” calling: a primary or general calling and a secondary or personal calling.
As followers of Jesus, our primary calling is to be disciples (BE) who make disciples of others (DO) wherever they go (GO). We all share this calling. The primary calling is to be a disciple who can make disciples. The personal calling is to your one-of-a-kind Masterpiece Mission.
Our personal calling distinguishes us from other disciples. It utilizes our unique gifts and talents and finds its significance within the context of our primary calling to be and make disciples expressing the deep love of Christ. Every personal calling rests on the foundation of that primary calling.
Love binds together our primary and secondary calling. It is the foundation for any calling to BE, DO, GO. When you are certain of Jesus’ love for you, Paul says that it is also like the foundation of a building or the roots of the tree:
“… so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love” (Eph. 3:17).
In fact, the moment we build our personal calling on anything else, it becomes an adventure in missing the point—a good thing that becomes a distraction from the main thing.
What Shift 3 Looks Like in Your Church
So when we talk about Shift 3 in practical terms and how it plays out in your leadership and
church body, we can look at specific characteristics. Note the subtle distinctions:
- From Guilt to Love: Instead of motivating by identifying the urgent need and asking
people to “make a difference,” we motivate by first helping people understand how
loved they are in Christ—that He has already “made the difference” they most need.
- From Guilt to Love: Instead of keeping the emphasis on DO and GO, we stress BE, DO
and GO and how they work together.
- From Guilt to Love: Instead of equipping disciples to just “follow the Great Commission,” we move beyond the words and equip disciples to flow in the Great Commission, taking into consideration both their primary/general calling to the Great Commission and their secondary/personal calling to reveal the fullness of Jesus in every corner of culture and sphere of society.
What’s Your Mobilization MO?
Use the questions below (with you and your team) to determine if you’re leading with “more guilt” or “more love”:
Does our staff continually need to “pump” people up to fill the necessary slots?
Do people feel that ministry is something they “should” do? Once a year, we do a big campaign to recruit people.
Is seasonal burnout of our volunteers the norm? (The burnout is not addressed proactively through spiritual formation as the priority. Rather, it is addressed reactively by telling people to take a break; and then, a new volunteer is sought out to take their place.)
Is our first concern as leaders abiding in the presence of Jesus and resting in His love? Is our first concern for those we lead equipping them to know how to abide in Jesus?
Do people feel that ministry is the natural overflow of their life with Jesus? And it’s the highest honor to join Jesus on His mission where they live, work, learn and play? Are people constantly taking new steps in ministry without the need for big external pressure?
Do we practice daily, weekly and annual rhythms of work and rest that keep us in sync with God’s design for us, embodied in the life of Jesus?
You can use your (and your team’s) responses to these questions to assess where you are as a church.
Guilt or Love?
Is one of your annual conversations in your leadership meetings about the seasonal burnout of volunteers? If so, you’re likely motivating out of guilt instead of love. If that’s the case, I don’t mind telling you that is not how God designed His Church to function and feel—and it is not what He spelled out in Ephesians 3 for His people. You aren’t activating the dual calling of the priesthood of believers.
How critical is making this shift (and the previous two)? Are you ready to be transparent enough to confess you’ve been mobilizing volunteers with the wrong motivation—guilt instead of love? Are you prepared to be intentional about helping people identify their personal calling yet hold them accountable to discovering and acting on it on the foundation of their general calling to be and make disciples who make disciples wherever they go?
Lots of questions. But sometimes questions can be the catalyst that leads us to a new paradigm for our church—and back to God’s design for the body of Christ.
Want to go deeper into this conversation? This fall, Exponential is bringing its “Made for More” live conference experience to you. We will be traveling to Washington, D.C., Southern California, the Bay Area, Chicago, Houston and New York City. For information about bringing your team to these regional events, go to exponential.org/events.