Titus Connection March 2021

Volume 15, Number   3 – MARCH,  2021

 Greetings.  Arete’!!  You will have to read the articles to understand what that term means.  Both articles should encourage and challenge at the same time.  Let them sink into you and wrestle through the concepts.  These topics cause me to work through what they mean for me.  Enjoy!  Mike


            An area we take for granted or push off because we “will have time to take care of these things” is succession.  By succession, are we raising up people to take our place when we individually unable to continue with current ministry or job position?
          Personally, right now, if I was no longer in the picture, WILD would continue with a new International Director, as WILD has someone who could also oversee WILD.    The WILD Board is currently discussing what they need to put in place to make sure at the Board level, WILD continues well after this current director is no longer around.  The Regional Directors and I are continually working to develop the culture and structure to even out responsibilities between the five of us.  People applaud WILD for doing this. 
          The question is, “Who will replace you?”  We do not like to talk about this and in our cultures, the “big” man or main person is almost untouchable. 
            Let’s think through this situation from a biblical perspective.  If I think no one else can fill my role in WILD or any other ministry/job situation, then I struggle with God’s sovereignty, God’s Will and personal pride.  I could quickly die or physically unable to continue doing what I am doing.  Ministries have fall apart when the foundations were not properly set.  Many ministries to include youth ministries and churches, have fallen apart when the founder was no longer around because the structure was not put in place for longevity and sustainability. 
           You and I are replaceable.  God does not need me to accomplish His Will.  He allows me to be a part of His Kingdom work.  What a privilege that is.  He does not need any of us.  When you develop people, that does not automatically mean the person will take over for us.  It is vital to have people prepared.  Who takes your spot?
          Now the easy answer is “my family member”.  Perhaps, but we almost too easily default to that answer because we assume they will pick up our mantle and keep doing what we are currently crusading for.  A family member may be the best person to be selected but it should not be automatic.   Do we want to develop our family members to be all God wants them to be?  Absolutely. 
          The next easy answer to who could take over for you or me, is “my close ministry friend who has gone through so many ministry situations with me”.  Now that may be true but not automatic.  Help develop that person.  Perhaps the Lord has something different from what you think they will ultimately do for ministry. 
          Pray about who could take over for you if it came to that.  This is a serious matter as in WILD we have experienced one National Director very sick from COVID and one Regional Director, after surgery, develop complications and could have died.  Have a conversation with the Lord and others about who to develop.  This does not mean you are being pushed out.  Do I feel threatened that there is someone who could take over for me if I could no longer be the International Director?  Absolutely not.  I feel relieved and not threatened at all.  Just like you, I need to pursue the best for what God wants me to be involved in.
            Twenty five years ago I made a decision of whether I was willing to give up (lay aside – Hebrews 12:1-2) a national position in an interdenominational youth ministry, a position that I was very good at and the ministry opportunities were growing, for the willingness to begin an idea called WILD, which was totally crazy at the time because of the circumstances I had.  I knew God was asking me if I trusted Him to make this change from something I was sure of, to a major step of faith with WILD.  I thought God was crazy to give me such thoughts. 
            In His sovereignty, someone was developed to run the ministry I was in charge of, so that I could lay aside something that had become good for me but not the best for me, to a ministry that was the best for me (WILD) where I could use the gifts and abilities God placed in me for His Glory.    
            Developing someone(s) does not mean you are leaving, nor you are being replaced.  You are being a biblical leader in developing people.  People in a generation or two will not know me.  They will see the legacy, the person of Jesus, if I have worked to develop others for the ensuing generations.  Jesus has to be the only focus.  Do you buy into that view?  That’s a humbling view of yourself if you buy into it.  It is not natural.


          The term, arete’, is Greek meaning to aspire to excellence or virtue in every area of your life.  Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.  Virtue is behavior showing high moral standards.  Arete’ then is aspiring to high moral excellence.   Arete’ is Jesus and how He lived His life.
          It means not wanting to settle for average or good enough, but pursing to be the best you can be in all the areas of your life.  This means if I am doing anything and my focus is Jesus, is what I am doing acceptable to offer to Jesus as an offering to him?  Is offering mediocrity to Him an acceptable offering to Him?
          Does this mean I am to be perfect in everything I offer or do?  No.  We want to pursue doing our best.  If that is our attitude, accepting critique and guidance to become better each time I attempt what I am doing is part of the process.  Excellence is striving and developing to be the best you can be.  It is not simply talent but a willingness to keep becoming better.  Practice does not make perfect, just permanence.  Constructive and developing practice make perfect.  Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
          In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about this in 10:31-11:1, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.  Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  We are to pursue glorifying God (Jesus) in everything we do. 
          In the Old Testament, glory to God means His greatness of splendor, how mighty and awesome He is.  In the New Testament, glory has the meaning of honor, praise, worship and dignity.  So we acknowledge how great He is and honor Him by worshipping and praising Him.  This worship is not based solely on singing how great He is.  The key is found in Romans 12:1,2 – ”Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
          Our lives are to be living sacrifices, allowing the Lord to utilize us in the best way to bring glory and honor to Him.  That is true worship.  You are not seeking your own agenda, you are letting Jesus through the Holy Spirit lead you in your life to draw others to see Jesus in our lives, so they have the opportunity to receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  Whatever you do in life, may people clearly see and experience Jesus.  That is ARETE’ at its finest.
           If you use this principle as your guiding standard on how to live, you will be pursuing excellence all the time.  This will be who you are.  Who you are bleeds into what you do.  Develop the characteristics in your life to honor and glorify Jesus.  Those characteristics will then be so entwined in who you are that whatever you do, will be who you are. 
          Athletics were a huge part of the ancient Greek world.  At one time in their culture, the goal was to create citizen-athletes who pursued excellence in all areas of their lives (arete’), no matter what part of life they were looking to develop.  As believers in Jesus Christ, our culture needs to be bringing glory to God in all areas of our lives, so that people would see Jesus in us and be drawn to Savior as a result.  That is our end goal, let people simply see Jesus in who we are.