Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Jump-Starting Life and Ministry" by Garris Elkins

Several years ago I was in Indianapolis for a training event and had the pleasure of having lunch with Bob Logan. Bob is well-known in church circles for developing leadership training and church planting materials that are considered some of the best around.

During one of the lunch breaks I sat at a table with Bob and several others. As the lunch conversation continued I asked him a question. “Bob, what advice do you give to individuals or organizations who are in decline – how do you help them get moving once again?” I asked this question knowing that Bob is very gifted in evaluating the effectiveness of corporations and his advice is utilized with great confidence.

Bob's answer was interesting. He said, “The first thing I ask is this, 'What was your original vision.'” He went on to say that most leaders can recite their vision in great detail. Bob would then ask a set of questions to determine if the leaders were still functioning in their original vision. Within plateaued or declining corporations or ministries there was a common reality - each one had stopped doing the very thing that brought them life in the first place. They had ceased doing their original vision.

Bob then shared a deep nugget of truth with me, “Each time a leader rediscovered their original vision, and began to do it once again, in each case, without exception, they began to move forward and grow.”

When those words of wisdom were shared I sat there wonderfully stunned by what I just heard. The lunch conversation continued to move around the table, but I was still processing the words, “in each case, without exception”.

When God does an original work in our lives there is more going on than something new and refreshing. In these times foundations are being built and vision is being realized. The first workings of God in our lives and ministries is the fleshing out of a DNA structure that will carry us into the future of our calling.

My wife and I had a recent discussion about our 30 years of ministry. We realized that during the first few years the foundational truth of what we had been called to do was formed within us. Times of personal renewal and redirection that have taken place over the last 30 years have always centered around the rediscovery of that original DNA and reengaging it. At this point in our lives we are living out those basic truths in deeper and wider applications that many years of service can bring. Our vision for life and ministry may be deeper and wider now in its application, but it is all based on the original truth revealed to us in the early years of our calling.

What did God give you as a vision or direction when you first began whatever it is God asked you to do? Are you doing that now? If not, chances are some of your life has either plateaued or is in decline. You might be scrambling for a new word or some fresh concept to grasp. Maybe your answer for a jump-start to your life and ministry is already in your life and simply needs to be revisited, redefined and reengaged. Go back to the beginning and take a new look at an old word and then new life will begin to flow.


  1. I had the privilege of traveling to Japan with Bob in the mid 80's. He really is an expert in his field. What I like about your article Garris is the encouragement to return to the original vision. We have a tendency to drift.

  2. I have concluded that even long before a well defined vision, spiritual DNA filtered down through our generational lines, our interests, passions, and even personalities, play into that formation. Quietly, undercover, the Holy Spirit was drawing and training and making a path clear. Sometimes it even helps to look a long way back...