LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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"Stages Up the H.I.L.L.Stage Four"
by Tom Goodman
May 4, 2007

I see Hillcrest becoming a church where northwest Austin can find a follow Jesus together.  Across the last six editions of LeaderLines, we’ve been looking at this vision—and your part in fulfilling it as a leader.  You can find links to the previous articles at the bottom of this LeaderLines.

Today we’ll look at how to lead people into “stage four” in finding and following Jesus together.  Hillcrest leaders must recognize that people are at one of four stages when it comes to the “life purposes” all humans must fulfill.  God made us to honor him, invite others to him, love each other, and live his Word—at our church we call that our “H.I.L.L.” to climb.  When we fulfill those purposes, we are fulfilled as human beings.  At Hillcrest, we should expect to have people at four stages when it comes to these life purposes:

Stage One:  “I am exposed to the life purposes.”
Stage Two:  “I agree with the life purposes.”
Stage Three:  “I practice the life purposes.”
Stage Four:  “I advance the life purposes in others.”

Someone at Stage One is being exposed to the H.I.L.L. we’re meant to climb:  She catches a vision of the way life could be as she spends time with believers—in structured Hillcrest activities as well as informal social occasions.  By the grace of God, she reaches Stage Two where she agrees with the life purposes:  She accepts Christ’s offer of forgiveness, commits to the path he wants her to walk, and she formally connects with the Hillcrest community through membership.  Then, at Stage Three, she grows in her ability to honor God, invite her world to the new life she’s found, love others, and live the Word.  She’s climbing the H.I.L.L.

What’s next for her?  As Hillcrest leaders, we need to notice that she’s climbing the H.I.L.L. and move her into a position of influence or leadership where she can advance the life purposes in others.  That’s our work with people at Stage Four.

Notice a few things about that last paragraph:

First:  I’ve described people at Stage Four as those in positions of “influence or leadership.”  Positions of leadership involve official roles such as teacher or committee chairman or deacon, and so on.  However, there are more positions of influence than there are positions of leadership.  Positions of influence include such informal tasks as giving a testimony in a service, being the “go to” person for advice, or being the “E.F. Hutton” for a particular circle of relationships (you remember the old commercial: “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen).  Every leader is an influencer, but you don’t have to be a leader to be an influencer.

Second:  I believe the only people who should lead and influence a congregation are “Stage Four” people.  These are people who agree with the life purposes (Stage Two), are actually practicing the purposes (Stage Three), and are therefore leading others to accept and practice the purposes (Stage Four).  Sadly, this is not the case for every church.  Too many of us have served in too many church settings where the leaders and influencers were not passionate Christ-followers and did not have a priority to make others passionate Christ-followers.  For example, I’ve served with decision-making teams before (deacon boards and church councils) where I was the only one who was practicing the “I” of the H.I.L.L.  Bill Hull said something about this in one of his books:

In many cases leaders who do not walk with God tell pastors how to spend their time and do their job.  Such laymen don't pray, meditate on, study, or memorize Scripture.  Many have never introduced a single person to Christ.  How anyone could lead an organization that purposes to save the world and never lead one person to Christ is the enigma of the church.  This kind of duplicity cannot exist even in the business community.*

Amen and amen.  If a church is supposed to be a body of people who are learning how to put the life-purposes into practice, there’s simply no reason for anyone who is not personally practicing the life-purposes to lead that kind of organization!  Thankfully, at Hillcrest most of those in influence and leadership are climbing the H.I.L.L.  But if we find a leader or influencer who has no personal interest in practicing the life-purposes, we either have to inspire them to that calling or replace them with someone else.

Third:  It’s the job of leadership to build leadership.  The Apostle Paul said something about this: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).  Now, he was speaking specifically about the role of pastors, but the principle applies to other leadership positions: multiply yourself!  Enlist and equip others!  If you’re a leader, part of your job is to watch for those who “get it” and put them into positions where they can lead and influence others.  The other side of that coin is relevant, too: make sure you guard the positions of influence and leadership in our church.  Don’t occupy those positions with people who aren’t climbing the H.I.L.L. and who don’t have a drive to help others up the H.I.L.L.

Now, there’s one more thing to discuss in this LeaderLines series.  As a leader, you need to be able to actually name the people you’re influencing at each stage.  We’ll wrap up this LeaderLines series next week with that topic.


*Quote from Bill Hull, The Disciple-Making Pastor, page 32.

This edition of LeaderLines is part of a series:

Week 1: Finding and Following Jesus Together
Week 2: Can People Find and Follow Jesus Together?
Week 3: Stages Up the H.I.L.L.
Week 4: Stages Up the H.I.L.L.—Stage One
Week 5: Stages Up the H.I.L.L.—Stage Two
Week 6: Stages Up the H.I.L.L.Stage Three

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