BECOMING A CEO SERMON SERIES
HOW TO IMPLEMENT ORGANIZATION INTO YOUR LIFE
JANUARY 26, 1997
Organization. Just the mention of the word floods our minds with a myriad of thoughts. In a crowd this large, some of you are saying to yourself, “Organization, oh yes, that is the name of the game, because life has to be lived in a compartmentalized, digitized and systematized way. That’s it, organization.” Others of you are not saying “Oh yes.” You are saying, “Oh no. Organization.” And you are crossing your arms defiantly and saying to yourself, “No one or nothing is going to take me out of my spur of the moment, off the cuff, fly by the seat of my pants mentality. If anything is programmed, preordained or prearranged I am not into it. I am out of here.” Let me but in and say something right up front. We need to realize the simple reality that our God, that’s right our loving and transcendent God, is a God of order and organization. Consider the trinity. Theologians call the trinity the godhead. God, the Father, God, the Son, God, the Holy Spirit, three in one, one in three, moving together in concert with one another in pristine organization.
Consider creation. The Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth, the plants and the animals and human beings in His image in six days. On the seventh day, He rested. Think about your life. Think about your body. It is organized. We have a muscular system, a respiratory system, a skeletal system. There is order in our bodies. Consider the ten commandments. God didn’t give Moses some random thoughts, a couple of suggestions. The ten commandments. Consider the Old Testament’s description of worship, the Old Testament’s details for building the temple and describing the sacrificial system. Jump over to the New Testament. Think about Matthew 6 when Jesus gave us an organized prayer. He said in no uncertain terms, pray like this. Think about the organization and the order of the New Testament church; the pastors, the bishops and elders and deacons. Everywhere you turn you see God is a God of order. Organization is woven into the very fabric and framework of who God is.
God could have sovereignly decided to make our dominate disposition one of chaos and one of disorganization. But He didn’t. God said that His children would be known because of their order and organization. He has built into our beings a need, a yearning for organization.
Many of you look organized on the surface. You are organized in your wardrobe. You are organized in your car. You are organized at work. And you have got a lot of people fooled because lurking beneath the surface, you know in your heart of hearts you are in a state of chaos, a state of disorder. You soul is screaming for order. I want you to know something. During this series, many of us have been praying for you because scores and scores of people need to come to a faith decision, to a point in your life where you give your life to Jesus Christ.
Let me tell you what God did. God has given us an organized plan. The Bible calls it the gospel. The word gospel means good news. The first part of God’s organized plan is this. The Bible says that God loves us. The Bible says that we matter so much to God that we can’t even comprehend it. We are finite, He is infinite. In the second part, the Bible says that human beings live in a state of spiritual disorder and sin and rebellion. The Bible says that this disorder causes a cosmic chasm between man and God. Now at this point, God could have said, “Too bad. I am perfect and you are in a state of disorder. There is no way you can come to me, there is no way you can work your way in. You deserve hell. See ya.” God could have said that. But He didn’t. The third part of this organized gospel plan is this. God commissioned the second person of the trinity, Jesus Christ, to become man. Jesus Christ voluntarily set aside some of His heavenly prerogatives so that we could identify with him. He lived a sinless life and when he was 33 years of age, He hung on a wooden cross and paid the price for your sins and mine, then He rose again. The fourth part of this plan is this. God says, “It is your choice.” We are not robots. We have freedom. We have the opportunity to receive it or not. If we receive it, we accept God’s organized plan into our lives and then He makes disorder into order. When we take this step a transaction takes place that is supernatural. All of the disorder and sin and rebellion what we have been carrying around is transferred in a nanosecond to the shoulders of Christ. Christ’s righteousness and forgiveness and cleansing and salvation is transferred into our lives. That is what happens the moment you pray a prayer of commitment.
So before I begin talking any further about organization, I want us to stop right now and have an opportunity to pray. Many of you have made this decision. Many of you have not. If you have made this decision before, pray for those who need to make this decision. If you haven’t, the ball is in your court.
Let’s bow our heads just for a moment. I am going to pray a prayer and this will be your prayer to accept Jesus Christ into your life, to give your life to Him. If you want to just say these words after me. This can be your prayer. It is not my prayer, I prayed this before. “God, I am in a state of spiritual disorder. I admit the facts about my sinfulness and turn from it and to You. I believe, to the best of my knowledge, that you died on the cross for all of my sins. I receive and accept what you did for me on the cross. Thank You for your forgiveness. Thank You for bringing true order into my life. Help me to understand the implications of this decision as I grow and develop into a fully devoted follower of yours. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer, it is the best thing that you will ever do. Everything else pales in comparison to that decision you just made. After this service I will tell you what you need to do in order to get to know Christ more fully, how to grow in community with Him.
Now that that issue is settled, let’s talk about three aspects of organization that we desperately need to incorporate into our daily lives. During this series I have said that most of us along life’s journey get a creative cramp, an enthusiasm spasm and today we will discover most of us also run into organization frustration. Have you ever gone through that? That is the first aspect of organization; organization frustration. I went through it. Fourteen years ago Lisa and I got married. Before we took our first vacation, we experienced organization frustration. Let me tell you why. My family would think about a vacation this way. Mom and Dad would say, “Let’s take a vacation tomorrow. We’ll leave about 9am.” I knew that we would not leave at 9am. We would be lucky to leave before 5pm. Oftentimes we were still packing at 5pm. We had no clue where we were going, where we would eat, where we would stay. We just kind of played it by ear. Conversely, Lisa’s family planned for six months before the big day. At the time of departure they had the AAA road maps, highlighted. They knew where they would eat, breakfast, lunch and dinner. They knew the hotels, how long they would stay at the different tourist attractions. You can take a wild guess what happened. Fourteen years ago, organization frustration.
I have jotted down some things in my life that regularly occur when I go through organization frustration. My desk is messy and it never gets cleaned. My car gets dirty and I neglect washing it. I begin to hydroplane over relationships that are important to me, like my marriage, my children and my close friends. I have good intentions of spending quality time with God and being in community and comraderie with Him, but I don’t really do that. Then I am experiencing organization frustration. Surely you have been there too. If you have been there with me, we are in good company. Turn to the book of Exodus, chapter 18 and discover that God’s man, Moses experienced organization frustration. Moses was leading the children of Israel. He was attempting to be the point man for this task. Yet he was trying to do it all. The Bible says that Moses was wigging, he was freaking out, he was losing it. He was going through organization frustration. Moses ran into two organizational intruders that we deal with.
First, Moses dealt with the Minute Muggers. Have you ever seen Minute Muggers? I see them all the time. Insignificant things that just steal your minutes. You are just walking along trying to be organized, bop, you are mugged. Where did the minute go? And Moses had these Hebrews who were strong and tough and because Moses was not organized, they just forced their agenda on him. So he tried to deal with everything but at the end of the day he would look back and see the Minute Muggers had just Pac manned all his time.
The next organizational intruders we deal with are the Priority Prowlers. Moses had some priorities. His first priority was to love God and his second priority was to lead the children of Israel, to vision cast. The Priority Prowlers just took the best and moved them aside and made Moses concentrate on things that were only good. His priorities became out of order. At the end of the day Moses would question if he had done the best, the ultimate, for God.
See, what I am talking about is a wife who spends three hours a day counseling and talking to her friends. These friends will pull out all of her emotional energy. When her husband gets home from work she will tell him that she is just too tired to communicate. The lady helped her friends, and that is good. But she did something good and sacrificed what could have been the best. The most important thing in her life is not counseling her friends but, after loving God, is loving her husband.
Then I think about the husband who gets on the career track. He thinks that he will be creative and enthusiastic and organized. He puts all his effort and gets immersed and enmeshed in the career and comes home to communicate to his family in one word sentences. Remote. Food. No. Yes. Slippers.
Now what did Mo do? Mo was losing it. He didn’t know which way to turn. You will never guess what happened. Jethro knocks on the door of his tent. Not Jethro Bodean, I am talking about Jethro, his father-in-law. Listen to Jethro’s timely words in Exodus 18:17ff. “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you. You can’t handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice.” This man pinned Moses ears back and Moses got it straight. He got rid of the Minute Muggers and the Priority Prowlers and began to concentrate on the things that mattered the most. Then he began to do the kind of leading that God wanted him to do. He began to do the best. Organization frustration.
One day, the Bible says, all of us will talk to God and He will do a brief heavenly audit of our lives. We will look back over the course of our lives and for me, one of the things that scares me the most is to see the opportunities and circumstances where I allowed Minute Muggers and Priority Prowlers to keep me from the best. God wants to take us and move us from organization frustration into the second aspect of organization.
Organization realization. G. Gordon MacDonald in his book, ORDERING YOUR PRIVATE WORLD, alludes to the fact that the four gospel writers described Jesus Christ as a man who was pulled in many different directions. Yet Jesus was never in a hurry, He was never late, He was always on time. He handled all these appointments without a secretary. If Jesus were in the flesh today, in 1997, do you think He would fly or walk? Do you think He would use E-mail and fax machines and beepers? I don’t know. Jesus is someone we can identify with because He was pressured. Yet MacDonald writes, as you examine Luke 18, Jesus had a couple of important things that were settled in His life. Jesus modeled organization in an authentic way, in a pristine and perfect way. First, Jesus knew His mission. In Luke 18 He is making His final walk to Jerusalem to be crucified. The crowds around Him didn’t really get it. Even the disciples didn’t really get it. He is about six or seven hours away from Jerusalem, outside the city limits of Jericho and while walking along He is interrupted by the shrill cry of a blind man. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.” And the Bible says that the crowds tried to quiet the man because they felt Jesus did not have time for him. Their agenda for Jesus was to get Him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. That was their purpose for His life. Yet Jesus had another mission. The Bible says that Jesus stopped and healed him on the spot. Then a couple of minutes later He walks into Jericho. There are sycamore trees lining the roadway. A little man who had a poor vertical jump was trying to see Jesus over the crowd. He couldn’t, so he decided to climb up a tree. His name was Zaccheaus. He was a reprobate, a rich guy. He was stealing money from the Jews and the Jews hated that. He was in the tree looking down when Jesus was passing. Jesus stopped again. The people around were wondering what He could possibly be doing. Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down, come down from the tree.” Jesus invited Himself over to Zacchaeus’ house for the quintessential power lunch and He saved Zacchaeus. But the crowds were saying that they needed to get Him to Jerusalem. I want to ask you a question. From the crowd’s perspective, Jesus was not making good use of His time. But if you put yourself in Jesus’ sandals, He was doing His mission perfectly, healing the sick and saving the least and the last and the lost. He was a man who realized His mission and He always measured His time and His mission, His mission and His time.
Secondly, MacDonald writes, Jesus realized His limitations. He realized His limitations. As I said earlier, Jesus put aside some of His heavenly powers and divine prerogatives when He became a man. When He lived on earth, He was fully God and fully man, but He still limited Himself so that human beings could be on the same level with Him. He could relate to us and sympathize with us. We could identify with Him. If you read about His life, right before He chose the twelve, He spent an entire night in prayer with the Father. Right before He began His earthly ministry, He spent forty days in the wilderness with the Father. Before the final week of His life, He climbed the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus remembered what we oftentimes forget, our limitations. He spent quality time with God.
Organization realization is realizing our priorities. There is no use to read books on priorities. There is no use to discuss priorities. There is no use to pray about priorities, because they are settled. It is a no-brainer. The Bible says in Matthew 6:13, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God…” That should be our number one agenda. Our number one priority is to know God. That’s it. Here is what we do though. We read the Bible and we are envious. Whoa. Moses had a burning bush experience. Incredible. Isaiah had a vision in the temple. Unbelievable. The Apostle Paul had the Damascus experience. Whoa. And we begin to search for that spiritual quick fix. We say that if only we could have a quick fix like those guys, we would be on another level. We would hit spiritual nirvana.
I see people joining churches where pastors shoot them down every Sunday with the gospel Uzzi. “If you don’t turn you will burn. You are going to hell. If you don’t turn you will burn.” And they leave saying that that sermon was a spiritual quick fix. Now I have got a spring in my step and am feeling good. Others of us are looking for that emotional experience. If I could have that emotional experience with the tears, where I roll on the floor, that will do it. And we go from conference to conference, ministry to ministry. Then others of us search for the spiritual quick fix through doctrine and Bible knowledge. We take courses in seminaries and Bible colleges. We sit under great teachers and we take notes. Still others of us get busy at church. Every time the church doors are open we are here. I’ll serve the coffee. I will greet. I will usher. I will teach a children’s class. I will help with missions. Busy, busy, busy, busy. All these things that I mentioned are great. But, if you want to grow spiritually, if you want to have Jesus Christ at the top of your priority list, it takes discipline. I wish I could say that it is easier, I wish I could tell you to just walk down I635 and look for the burning bush. Discipline.
I have missed the mark many times and so have you. But that is what it takes. Our first priority is knowing Jesus Christ.
Our second priority has to do with the family. One of my favorite verses is I Corinthians 14:40. “Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” Our families should be organized. Watch kids. Kids scream for order. Some parents let their kids run wild. And if you watch these little self-centered banditos, they will test their parents out by disobeying them. They want so badly for their parents to discipline them and to give them order. They are crying out for it. Other parents think that they are putting family as a priority but they are forcing all this stuff, extra curricular activities on their kids that the kids are so busy they fall out of the top priority category. For example, you have got the frustrated All American father who didn’t make it on the baseball team, the basketball team, the football team. They start their kids at four years of age playing every sport. They make the kids watch ESPN with them, read Sports Illustrated with them. The child growing up is going from this activity to that activity, always living in the minivan and the suburban. Frustrated mothers who never made the cheerleading team, who never played on the band, who never played volley ball, who were never in the beauty pageant live again through their little girls. They take them from that lesson to that team to that event. Again the kids are so busy. We need to simplify. If you want to put your family right behind your relationship with God, you have got to simplify. You have to give them just a couple of extracurricular activities and then let them be kids. Organization realization.
Once we make those hard calls, we will move from organization realization to the place where God wants us, organization relaxation. That’s it. That is where God wants us. How do you do that? You achieve organization relaxation by saying three nos. The first is No, the second is Know and the third is Know. The first no, means to say no because of your non-negotiables, because of your priorities. If you don’t know what you non-negotiables are, there is no way that you can say no. Jesus did not heal everybody. He didn’t talk to everybody. He didn’t counsel everybody. He didn’t listen to everybody. He learned how to say no, without an excuse, without a reason. And I want to challenge you for this stage to go on a diet. Let’s find this out. How many of you as a New Year’s resolution said that you were going to eat properly, go on a diet? Now when you are on a diet, here is what you do. You say that you will say yes to chicken, yes to fish, yes to fruits, yes to vegetables, yes to water, yes, yes, yes. You say no to that Sonic double cheeseburger, no to that chocolate malt at Johnny Rockets, no to chicken fried steak, etc. I want you to go on a time diet. I want you to look at your schedule and say, I am going to dine on those things that matter the most, my relationship with God and my family. I am going to simplify my life. When you eat and feed on that stuff, it will build strength and power and energy. You are going to say no to those empty calories that cause organizational flab all over your body. You are going to say no to that stuff that robs you from what God wants you to be. Say no because of your non-negotiables.
Know your rhythms. I made a serious mistake this Christmas. I bought my children a little set of drums. What is so funny about those drums is that people cannot walk by the drums, even adults, without banging on them. We had some friends over to the house the other day. The guy asked if the drums had sticks! I could tell that they wanted me to give them permission to play. So I said they could. They wanted to know if they had rhythum. Do you know your rhythum? We have rhythms in our lives. Certain ones of us accomplish things better at a specific time. My best rythum from a creative standpoint is from 6:30 am until about 11:00 am, after that my mind is fried. It is jelly. What is your rhythum? You need to consider your rhythms when you are organizing your life. To experience organization relaxation, know your rythums.
Know that spontaneity emerges from organization, not organization from spontaneity. Did you hear that? Spontaneity emerges from organization. In other words, God is a God of order. He is not off the wall, or capricious or chaotic. He is a God who is organized. Yet, because He is organized, He will at times just ambush us. He will do something spontaneous.
People ask me at least once a month if I memorize my messages. I say yes, I do. It takes me a long time, but I do. I have this system called a message map. It represents hours and hours of work. Then they ask me if I plan to say everything that I say. And I say no I don’t. I do not plan on saying everything that I end up saying. After I have completed the message, I usually will take it, place it on my desk, lift my hands up and tell God that I will submit the message to Him. I tell Him that I have given it my best and ask Him to give me promptings and leadings to say what He wants me to say. Oftentimes, I will find that the Holy Spirit will prompt me to divert for awhile. But because I am organized, I can return to the original message. God has taught me that. So I challenge you to get organized because true spontaneity comes from being a person of order.
Creativity, enthusiasm and organization. Simply put these three will enable you to become the CEO of your life. I want to challenge you. Creativity, enthusiasm and organization are the only way to live and if you really want to experience them, know this. They all flow from God. All of them.