Recently I saw a sports stat that both surprised and inspired me. Here it is in picture form:
Isn’t that amazing how far ahead of the pack was the legendary career of the name at the top of the list? According to Colin Herd of Fox Sports Network, “Wayne Gretzky would have helped score the most points in NHL history…even if you took away his personal goals and only left his assists!” In hockey, a point is awarded to a player for each goal scored or assist earned. I don’t know much about hockey, but I have learned that the total number of goals plus assists equals total points.
The same principle holds true in God’s kingdom. Jesus adds to this thread of theology in Matthew 10:41-42, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
This got me thinking on ways to accomplish legendary leadership by simply assisting others:
Assist your spouse’s goals.
Just last night I had the sweet joy of finishing the day with hearing my wife pray for me “to have a good day tomorrow.” There is nothing more endearing to your husband or wife than knowing that you, as their spouse, are not competing but aligning with their divinely revealed calling and dreams. Through the inspiring example of others, I have made it a practice for several years now to ask my wife on our annual vacation, “What are some goals/accomplishments that I can help make happen over the next twelve months.” By the way, my wife has done the same for me repeatedly in personal goals, ministry, education, and even hobbies. One of the apostles that we know was married, Peter, put it this way: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” Did you catch that-“heirs together”? In other words, the married person can only fully achieve God-honoring goals with their spouse! That means actively discovering and partnering with them. That means getting to “know them and giving honor” not only to who they are as a person by what they are dreaming about in their relationship with the Lord.
Assist the next generation’s goals.
Sadly many parents are known more for killing/mocking dreams than helping their children/grandchildren realize them. One of the most insightful questions to where the heart of your young person is pointed is, “What are your top goals?” One of the best ways to assist the next generation is to have high expectations and expand their worldview beyond the next version of I-whatever. Help them not only shape God-sized dreams but offer to plan for, train for, persevere for, and yes, even help pay for them! (That last “p” was painful for me, with college just over the horizon, to even write.) I love the story of Jethro helping Moses in Exodus 18 with constructive criticism to navigate the administrative challenges of leading over two million Jews in the wilderness. What would happen if our tone shifted from “what is wrong with kids these days” to “how can I become an advocate and enabler for the young people around me to enter for the long haul God’s perfect, revealed will.” If we could just shift our tone from that of analyst to ally, it would revolutionize our influence. Nobody racks up more points than the person whose influence of “the assist” outlives them!
Assist your neighbor’s goals.
Instead of competing with the Joneses or critiquing them, what about becoming their greatest ally. This may look like watching their house while they are out of town, loaning them tools, being accommodating toward their unruly pets or children, respecting their privacy yet showing genuine interest in relationship with them. Invest time in “neighborhood watch” type initiatives and community issues that you know those around you care about. If you see the varsity sports number/jersey outside their home, go to a home game. Compliment home projects in which you see them persevering. Notice when they are hurting or struggling after the ambulance was out front or handicap ramp was installed. You get the idea…just care about the victories that your neighbors long to achieve. Seek to capture the spirit of Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Become their greatest ally, especially in shared questions and fears about eternity, that may lead to their salvation on your front porch or theirs!
Assist your boss/coworkers/employees’ goals.
Too often the workplace environment brings out not only competitiveness but a caustic desire to undermine and resent any successes of those around us. The Christian’s mindset must be distinctly different. The reason-our scoreboard does not ultimately hang in our professional field but at the judgement seat of Christ. Repeatedly Paul reminds the Christian worker of the nobility of their labor not just for their human masters or employees but for THE Master, Jesus Christ.
Joseph is a great example of how being an assist-maker advanced his own trajectory for the Lord:
Genesis 39:3 “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.”
Genesis 39:23 “The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.“
Instead of always resenting those above you, dismissing those beneath you, and marginalizing those beside you, become their partner, enabler, cheerleader. The funny thing is that, like Joseph, what seems counterintuitive will actually position you to often “score a few points” on your own as you become a distinct and valued asset to your company. Why-because to be “for you” who is an assist-leader is to be for their own benefit and accomplishment as well!
Assist your church’s goals.
Anybody can buy into the goals of local church after they are realized during the victory lap; only those who intentionally share in supporting those stretching in leadership beforehand truly share in the points tallied! When is the last time you ask your pastor, assistant pastor, deacon, teacher the following question: “What has God laid upon you heart to reach out and accomplish and how can my time, talents, and even money help?” That simple, sincere question alone could reignite the vision and passion of a fellow servant of Christ struggling with the Elijah syndrome of “I, even I only, am left” (I Kings 19:10). As someone who has been in the ministry almost two decades now, I will tell you that I can go weeks on just one supportive sentence, one short note, one hour of extra effort or time for the sake of my God-given calling! This applies as well to other churches and missionary endeavors connected to your local assembly. Not only does it encourage a servant-leader in a given church but also you get to experience a uniquely sweet and often secret rush of spiritual satisfaction when “the puck hits the net” that will only build as you approach the judgment seat of Christ.
For church leaders, the exact opposite it true as well. Don’t just use your core church members for what you can get out of them; become their biggest fan and facilitator as they pursue their own personal, God-given priorities at home, work, and community. Yes, be theological and doxological in teaching/preaching, but also be practical and even at times more “how to” in tone. Think through your church calendar and refuse to overload it. An assist-aligned church will generate folks who leave on a Sunday evening more refreshed and full than overwhelmed and depleted. Jon Acuff one stated, “Most people think the first step in creating a speech is to write the speech. It’s not. The first step is to understand the audience. When you give a speech, you’re not there to speak. You’re there to serve. It’s not about you. It’s about the audience.” Oh for more preachers and pastors who are faithful to the Word but also embody this mind set!
In other words, to reach your full potential requires more of a “your win is my win” mentality. Lose the competitiveness, jealousy, indifference, or passive-aggressiveness. Get in on what God is trying to do through others that need to receive the “advanced pass” of encouragement from your hands and heart.
By the way, Wayne Gretzky played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League and has been universally nicknamed “The Great One”-in other words, the greatest hockey player ever. This is do in large part not to his goals but his assists.
To be great in the kingdom of God requires the following serving (assisting) others into success:
Mt 23:11-12 “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
Our Christian walk that is to be shaped by eternity is not about look-at-me flashes of genius and giftedness. It is truly just about learning how to “drop the dime” that leads to someone else’s layup (shifted to basketball analogy for a moment). When you really think about it, church history is built upon a lot more Aquila and Priscillas and a lot fewer Apollo and Pauls. The bottom line for your marriage, kids/grandkids, job, and church is assists count too, and often supernaturally add up to much more than the self-absorbed “solo shots” we are way too comfortable taking.