A good company experienced an all too common problem. It was economically sound. It served a strong market. It provided quality services and products at competitive prices. From a business perspective, it had a promising future.

The company paid its employees better than average. It provided a strong package of employee benefits. Employee incentives encouraged productivity and commitment. There were creative opportunities for advancement within the company.

But the company struggled with an all-to-common problem. Approximately half of its employees were not committed to their job or to the company. These employees simply were not motivated. They had little interest in opportunities, and they did not care about incentives. The company solicited employee feedback in many ways. Each time the disinterested segment of their work force stated the same message: our only desire is to (1) draw our pay check, and (2) endure the job to get to the weekend.

  1. The company knew that employee development and commitment were essential to future success.
    1. All their past efforts produced little progress in employee development.
      1. Disinterested employees were unimpressed with anything they offered.
        1. Financial incentives did not motivate them.
        2. Opportunity for advancement did not motivate them.
        3. Rewards for productivity and quality did not motivate them.
      2. The company had to find an effective way to motivate more of its employees.
    2. They decided to make an daring effort.
      1. They would completely shut down the company for one day.
      2. They would pay their employees as if they worked if the employees attended a special company meeting.
      3. They would rent the civic center for the day.
        1. The first session would be an honest statement of their desire to better understand the employees.
          1. Any employee could communicate any grievance, complaint, or desire that he or she wanted to express.
          2. Notes from each statement would be made for later discussion and consideration.
          3. The employees would receive a full response from the company.
        2. The second session would be devoted to an effective motivational speaker who would challenge the employees.
        3. The third session would divide the employees into natural groupings.
          1. Capable, knowledgeable group leaders would share in specific, clear ways the opportunities that existed.
          2. They would answer any questions completely and understandably.
        4. The afternoon would be dedicated to food, entertainment, and association.
      4. With a lot of humor and good will, basically this was the message of the motivational speaker.
        1. "The key to your future, your success, and your fulfillment is your growth as a person."
          1. "The key to your personal growth is your personal development."
          2. "Never be content just to be."
          3. "Never stop dreaming of what you can become."
          4. "Whatever you do, do it well. Do it well with the determination to do it better next year. Do it well with the dream that in time one can do it better than you."
          5. You do these things for yourself."
        2. "Also have this honest understanding: the more this company prospers the more you prosper."
          1. "You know that cutbacks and close downs are an every day reality."
          2. "The more secure this company is, the more secure your job is."
          3. "Good business means the company stays and grows."
          4. "Good business means that they will continue to need you."
          5. "Doing your job well powerfully contributes to good business."
        3. "Several key things are essential in building and maintaining a strong company."
          1. "None of those keys are more essential than having capable, committed, dependable employees."
          2. "Any company is only as strong as its employees' commitment."
          3. "Always improve your mind."
          4. "Always develop your skills."
          5. "Always do your job better than it has been done."
          6. "Certainly, do it for the good of the company."
          7. "But more importantly, do it for your own good."
          8. "Do it in the certainty that it will pay big dividends in your life as well as in your job."
      5. That day produced such desirable results that it became an annual event.

  2. I hope that you can see a powerful parallel.
    1. All of our members and many of our friends want this congregation to be a strong, effective, successful congregation.
      1. To build and maintain a strong, effective, successful congregation, there are several essential components.
        1. It must have good leadership on every level.
        2. It must have challenging, positive preaching that builds faith in God.
        3. It must have good teaching and good learning opportunities.
        4. It must deal with the real needs of its members and the community.
        5. It must have committed, involved, serving members.
      2. Each member needs to clearly understand one fact, a truth to which there is no exception.
        1. Nothing can make this congregation strong, effective, and successful without the commitment, involvement, and service of its members.
        2. It will not be enough to have good leadership, good preaching, good teaching, good classes, and good ministry opportunities.
        3. As essential as every one of things are, they are not enough without members who are committed to two things:
          1. Their personal spiritual growth and development.
          2. The spiritual growth and development of the congregation.
      3. So each of us must understand this truth.
        1. The key to my spiritual success is my spiritual growth.
        2. The key to my personal spiritual growth is my personal spiritual development.
        3. I must never be content just to be a Christian; I must never stop dreaming of what I can yet become as a Christian.
        4. Everything I do, I must do with the commitment to do it well now, to do it better in the future, and to someday grow to the point that I literally do it to the highest level of my ability.
      4. I do this for my benefit and the benefit of the congregation.
        1. The more I grow and develop, the more spiritually secure the congregation becomes.
        2. The quality of my faith powerfully contributes to the good of the congregation.
    2. This congregation must count on me; it needs me to be dependable.
      1. Spiritually, I must improve my mind; I must develop my abilities; I must become a better servant, a better worshipper, a better student, and better prayer than I have ever been.
      2. Surely I do this for the good of this congregation, but equally I do it for the good of my relationship with God.
      3. Being a Christian involves two basic responsibilities that are my responsibility from baptism until death.
        1. I am responsible to grow and develop as God's child.
        2. I am responsible to assist God's purposes and objectives in His family, His kingdom, a congregation of His people.
      4. Only by growing spiritually can each of us accept those responsibilities.

  3. The fact that God expects each of us to grow spiritually is clearly evident.
    1. In 1 Peter, Peter addressed scattered, suffering Christians who were under distress. He encouraged and challenged them with these words:
      1 Peter 2:1-3 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
    2. The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed experienced Christians who had endured severe suffering and hardships, and, as a result had become so discouraged that they considered giving up Christ. The writer encouraged and challenged them with these words:
      Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
    3. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to Christians who had enormous problems as a congregation. There were things he wanted to share with them that he could not tell them because they were not spiritually developed enough to understand what he said. This is what Paul said to them:
      1 Corinthians 3:1-3 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
    4. Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus and explained that God wanted every Christian to grow, to mature, to develop into the image of Christ himself.
      Ephesians 4:14-16 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

  4. My specific challenge to each of us is to grow and mature spiritually in 1999--grow and mature to a spiritual level you have never before reached.
    1. I challenge each of us to grow in our prayer life to a new level.
      1. Take more time to pray than you have ever taken.
      2. Give more thought to your prayers than you have ever given.
      3. Learn to pray prayers of thanksgiving and praise as well as prayers of intercession and requests.
    2. I challenge each of us to grow to a new level of worship.
      1. Better understand what worship is, and do not be afraid to worship.
      2. Let your worship declare God's place in your heart and life.
    3. I challenge each of us to reach a new level of service.
      1. Prove that Jesus is Lord of your life in your service.
      2. Put your heart and your faith in your service.
    4. I challenge each of us to develop the highest level of fellowship we have ever experienced.
      1. I challenge you to make powerful relationships in this congregation.
      2. I challenge you to help others build relationships.
      3. I challenge you to encourage and uplift fellow Christians every week.

[Song of reflection - "We Will Glorify"]

None of us knows what we will experience in 1999. Whatever those experiences may be, let's face them with the most powerful, mature relationship with God and each other that we have ever known.

Whatever happens will be okay, because we belong to the God who has defeated death.

Be baptized and let God make you a part of the family. Make your life right for yourself and for the good of this congregation. We invite you to the only Savior--Jesus Christ.

My Christian Resolution for 1999

My Christian comprehension is growing.

    I realize that nothing in my life is more important than my relationship with God.

    I realize that everything in my life is directly affected by my relationship with God.

    I realize that a maturing relationship with God benefits everything good in my life.

    I realize that a growing relationship with God blesses everyone touched by my life.

    I realize that my body will die but my person will not. I will live with God forever.

As a Christian I resolve to advance my commitment to spiritual growth in 1999. I want my mind, my heart, and my life to be more like the mind, heart, and life of Jesus Christ. I want my whole life to move closer to God. I want every area of my life to open to God's Spirit. I surrender myself to God's objectives and priorities in my life.

I will follow any avenue that helps me grow closer to God. I will consciously promote my spiritual growth in these ways.

I will grow to a new level in my prayer life. I will better understand what prayer is and how to pray. As I pray more frequently, I will to talk to God about everything. I will make requests and intercede for others. I will also pray prayers of thanksgiving and praise.

I will grow to a new level in my worship. I will grow a better understanding of the nature and meaning of worship. I will worship privately and publicly. I will attend worship assemblies, but not to observe, critique, or evaluate. I will come to worship God. God will be honored and praised by my actions, my voice, my heart, and my mind.

I will grow to a new level of service. My growth will include serving well, but it will not be limited to what I do. It will include my attitude, my motivations, and my spirit as I grow. I will serve because I belong to God. My relationship with God will be the foundation of my service.

I will grow to a new level of closeness in my association with God's family. I will contribute to the warmth, the love, the caring, and the attentiveness of the congregation. I will seek to be a healthy, caring, unselfish, attentive part of His family. This body of Christians will be blessed because I am a part of this spiritual family.


David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 3 January 1999

This sermon is also available in French.

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