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May 02, 2014

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John Tolson on intentional discipling

Faithful followers of Jesus Christ are not to be sponges, soaking up the blessings of faith and all the things the Lord offers and never giving them away. Two things happen to a kitchen sponge when you use it to wipe the counters for a few weeks without wringing it out: First, that sponge is going to get saturated, which means it cannot take any more in. Second, it will start to stink. This can happen to us in the faith, too. We get all the goodies--the teaching, the spiritual understanding-- and we never get it out, so we become saturated. When we are saturates, we don’t want any more. We lose the eagerness to grow and gain more understanding of Scripture and the Lord’s will for our lives. When that happens, Christian life begins to be stale and unattractive. In spiritual terms, we start to stink.

John Tolson Chaplain of Dallas Cowboys

I came to know the Lord as a teenager, and since then, my understanding of what it means to live the Christian life has been to give away what I’ve been given. I try to do that in my own life, to model it, and I try to encourage and challenge and equip other people to do that.

There are many different ways to make an impact on a person’s life, but to me taking seriously what Jesus said in Matthew 28,“Go ye therefore into all the world and make disciples,” has been my life’s work. I’ve spent many years trying to understand what the Lord’s words mean, and I don’t have a full understanding, but I’ve learned some things. First, I’ve learned that Jesus was not making a suggestion. This was a command by Christ. Second, I understand that he meant that command for every person who is a follower of Christ. Third, I believe it’s the most misunderstood of Jesus’ instructions to believers in the Scripture. 

I’ve worked with pastors and Christian leaders all over the country for years, giving seminars and teaching on discipleship. When I ask these brothers how they understand and apply Christ’s commandment in their lives and ministries, most often I get an answers that suggests discipleship is a process of getting people to go through a certain amount of material or course work or reading so many books. That’s not a complete view of discipleship. It’s a piece of the puzzle, but there is much more to it.

What it means to be a disciple

The word “disciple” appears more than 260 times in the New Testament

The word “Christian” is only used 3 times. If you do a word study of “disciple,” and all of its derivatives, you’ll see that being a disciple breaks down to being three things:

  1. A learner: That means that I am committed to be involved in the lifelong process of learning about Christ, who he is and what he wants me to do. Often people assume because they have been exposed to the truth of God that they have been transformed by that truth, and that is not always true. True learning only takes place when it changes how we live.

  2. A follower: The follower is one who sticks to or adheres to Christ and does what he says. Following means humbly recognizing and submitting to Christ’s authority over your own life.

  3. A reproducer: This is the element of discipleship that too many people miss. This is the process of taking what God is producing in you and by his grace seeing it reproduced in another. A disciple is a disciple maker. We need to be building our lives into others’.

Fidel Castro is no friend of the Christian life, but he does know something about commitment. He gave an interview after the revolution and takeover. The interview asked him, if you had to do it over again, how many people would it take you to succeed? Castro answered that he did it the first time with 84 core people who helped execute the plan, but if he did it again, could carry out the revolution with just four. Of course, the four would need to be willing to die.

The point is, it does not take a lot of people to make a huge impact, but it does take commitment, understanding what you are about and being committed to executing it no matter what.

John Tolson, a nationally renowned teacher and speaker, has spent more than 30 years making a profound impact on the lives of others. As Founder and Chairman of High Impact Life (formerly The Tolson Group), Dr. Tolson oversees a collection of ministries across the country that specializes in outreach and discipleship training for adults and students. Tolson was Chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys football organization from 2008 to 2011 and is the author of The Four Priorities: Life is Too Short to Get It Wrong.

You can hear more about discipleship from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters at The Raise Your Vision Online Forum.

 

April 29, 2014

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John Tolson on mentoring athletes and celebrities

Dallas Cowboys & John Tolson as team chaplain

Working with professional athletes has been the most challenging opportunity I’ve ever had. I’ve worked with pros in basketball, baseball and tennis and golf over the years. Today I am the Chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys Football organization, and I can tell you that football is a whole lot different on the 50-yard lines. It’s an intense, injury prone activity, but all the padding, physical training and good technique in the world can’t protect these players from the deepest kind of injuries.

When athletes can perform at the NFL level, it’s very likely that they have been pampered and catered to as they’ve come along. I know that many have very challenging upbringings. They have been very well coached to develop as athletes, but often they have not been coached in developing as human beings. Many don’t have the basic interpersonal skills that most of us take for granted, like how to carry on a mutually respectful conversation.

This is in part because they have never really had anyone come along side them to help understand their individual constraints--the things that hold them back and keep them from being the best people they can be. They’ve almost never had a coaching plan to overcome the constraints to developing as husbands, fathers, or men who nurture deep relationships with friends.

These young men have often found it difficult to trust people, so you can understand why they come to the idea of being counseled with a stiff arm out. To even hope to have an impact on them, one of the things I have to do is to build trust. I have to let them know that I want nothing from them. I never ask for a ticket, I never ask for a photo or an autograph. If they feel you are just like everyone else, they are not going to open up to you and you will not be much value to helping them develop as a person.

The chaplaincy is a volunteer position, but it is a serious commitment of time and resources. During the season, I’ll be at two practices a week. For away games, I travel with the team, doing studies in the hotel before the game. Home weeks, I speak to them 30 minutes the night before the game, and then spend all day on game day. Of course there is preparation time as well. If someone wants to visit with me personally—I am on call all the time. It all goes back to building trust.

The organization is more than the players. I also have the opportunity to deal with the coaches, the trainers, the equipment manager and anyone else. I try to learn their backgrounds and families, and where their needs are so I can help where they have a need. My responsibilities go all the way up to the owners. They have become dear friends of mine and several are involved in activities that help men grow in their life and faith outside of the organization. It’s a privilege to serve God there.

John Tolson, a nationally renowned teacher and speaker, has spent more than 30 years making a profound impact on the lives of others. As Founder and Chairman of High Impact Life (formerly The Tolson Group), Dr. Tolson oversees a collection of ministries across the country that specializes in outreach and discipleship training for adults and students. Tolson was Chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys football organization from 2008 to 2011 and is the author of The Four Priorities: Life is Too Short to Get It Wrong.

You can hear more about discipleship from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters at The Raise Your Vision Online Forum.

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April 25, 2014

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Freebie Friday: RevTrev TV Interview with Mike Stickler Part 3

Part Three = Interview with Mike Stickler

Interview with Mike Stickler on fundraising.

Mike RARELY does interviews, so Enjoy this segment!

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You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters at The Generous Life Conference.

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April 11, 2014

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Freebie Friday: RevTrev TV Interview with Mike Stickler Part 2

Part Two = Interview with Mike Stickler

Interview with Mike Stickler on fundraising.

Mike RARELY does interviews, so Enjoy!


Share your comments.

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters at The Generous Life Conference.

All information and images property of The Vision Group, Ltd. © 2014
Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.

 

March 28, 2014

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Freebie Friday: RevTrev TV - Interview with Mike Stickler - Part 1

Part One = Interview with Mike Stickler

Interview with Mike Stickler on fundraising. Mike RARELY does interviews, so ENJOY

Share your comments.

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters at The Generous Life Conference.

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Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.

January 02, 2014

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Fundraising Frustration? Stop Being Needy!

There are essentially two approaches to raising funds that organizations can use:Click the Image to Register

A needs-based approach, where the organization appeals to givers on the basis of what it needs.

A vision-based approach, where the organization appeals to givers on the basis of what it wants to accomplish.

Why needs-based fundraising falls short

Every organization has needs, and potential donors know this. That’s not the problem.

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