Abiding over achieving

By Dave Henning / October 1, 2023

“What Jesus wants his disciples (you and me) to never forget is that everything begins with connection.  The focus is on communication over production.  The priority is on abiding over achieving.”- Kyle Idleman

“Remain in me, as I remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself’ it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”- John 15:4 (NIV)

In Chapter 7 of When Your Way Isn’t Working, Kyle Idleman tells the story of Kyle Martin’s high school valedictorian speech.  In the speech, Martin stated that he felt good about reaching his goal — for about 15 seconds.  But when the sixteenth second ticked by, Martin felt nothing.  As a result, he thought, “That’s it?”

Therefore, Pastor Idleman observes, high achievers put in the work and sacrifice whatever they must sacrifice in order to gain success.  However, they’re often slow to realize that for fifteen seconds everyone around them celebrates their accomplishments and treats them as though their way is working.  Then the sixteenth second.

John 15 records some of Jesus’ final words to His closest followers.  Before His arrest that night in the Garden of Gethsemane.  You might think, Kyle quips, that with His final words, Jesus will:

  • give His disciples a five-year plan that lays out the expectations and outcomes for maximum productivity.
  • hand out a task list along with a comprehensive strategy for success.
  • print out some sort of organizational chart giving official job descriptions and best practices.

But, as Pastor Idleman explains, Jesus chooses a different focus:

“Yet instead of focusing on production, Jesus prioritizes connection.  Jesus knew that if his followers would focus on staying connected with him, then production would come, but if they pursued production at the expense of connection, then it wouldn’t matter how hard they worked.”

Certainly, fruitfulness matters.  However, Kyle underscores, we can’t make it happen on our own.  Production as a primary priority fails to work.  Because it’s all about connection!

Today’s question: What most helps you place abiding over achieving?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: The bootstraps factor – ego appeal”

About the author

Dave Henning

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