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UNITED or UNTIED – Where you place your “I” makes all the difference!

Max Lucado, pastor and best-selling author, spoke of shooting basketball with his 3-year-old nephew. The little tyke tried hard to throw that big orb, one-third his size. Finally, Max scooped him up, with the ball, all the way to the rim so that he could “stuff the basket” like a 7-footer. His nephew squealed with delight, “All by myself!”

That is so like human nature, isn’t it? It is so exhilarating to be at the center of accomplishing something big! It is easy to underplay that it was the Father who lifted us up, guided our hands and made our success possible. If we think like that very much, it isn’t long before we start thinking we really can do slam dunks “all by myself.”

It appears that a lot of people are very capable of ministering “solo.” And, look at the results they are getting! Yet, most of us can identify with the great events or programs that came and went from our communities. We might have wanted to use them or help in some way, but didn’t find out until too late, or because it directly conflicted with something already planned. One wonders what the results could have been, and how much more long-lasting the impact, if more of us had been on board.

Through my leadership role with the National Network of Youth Ministries, it was my privilege to hear many ideas in their early stages from those who were eager to rally support from the ministries we served. Those people tend to come from one of two camps. First, those with their ideas, dates, locations and plans already formed. What they really need are people to sign on to their idea and promote it. The second type was those who have ideas and plans in formation, but are seeking to unite with others that share a similar passion and want to co-own it with them. These people want partners.

Both of these camps can benefit from networking, but it is my experience that the greatest results come from true partnerships – those willing to share the risks and the results. That’s what “owners” do, but that takes trust, which can only come through time and relationships. People who haven’t found success through networking probably haven’t spent the time and built the relationships.

See You at the Pole, the national student day of prayer, is a good example. An idea tried in a few states (with no intent to go national), was brought to the table of those in the Network who had built trust and relationships. Now, millions of youth are involved worldwide because so many share the passion and the ownership.

As I’ve met with leaders and networks from every continent, sometimes I’ve been astounded by the similarity of “new ideas” and visions – even thoughI felt certain that no one was copying anyone. I have made this observation that has become my firm belief :

God rarely gives a great idea to just one person. Rather, He plants it in a number of unique individuals and, in His mysterious way, weaves them together, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to accomplish His divine purpose.

Isn’t it reassuring to know that it’s not all about us?! We each have a part to play, but let’s be careful we don’t fall into the trap of elevating ourselves or our ministries.

Remember, the difference between being united and being untied (i.e. solo) depends upon the letter ‘I’—“doing nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.”

God wants us to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:2-3). For the good of the cause and the Kingdom, let’s focus on finding others who share our dreams. When we all cooperate with what is on God’s heart, He will weave us together to accomplish a supernatural result that gives Him all the glory!

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