Bill Russell is one of the greatest players in NBA History. He led the Boston Celtics to win NBA Championships in 11 of his 13 seasons. His accomplishments are too numerous for me to list in this blog, but I did want to highlight one from which we can all learn a valuable lesson. He became a player coach for the Celtics in 1966. He served as player coach for three seasons and the Celtics won the championship twice during that timespan!
Think about how ridiculously hard that was to do. Russell was responsible for getting himself ready and playing at the highest level against players like Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while also being responsible for preparing his entire team for victory. This meant he prepared the point guard, shooting guard, sixth man, etc. This really is one of the most amazing feats in all of sports history.
Now imagine the Celtics management and the rest of his team saw how good Russell was as a player and coach so they decided to let him play all the positions at the same time. He’s the smartest and most gifted, why don’t we just get out of the way? That seems absurd because as great as Russell was, he would have been destroyed if he had to take on other teams all by himself. The key to the Celtics winning each of their championships was each player fulfilling their role and purpose. They stepped into their destiny, which caused the Celtics to win.
While the example I gave above seems crazy and maybe a bit humorous, it’s ironic that the body of Christ often tries to fulfill the Great Commission this way. What do I mean? Let me explain.
One of the distinguishing marks of a disciple of Jesus is the ability to disciple others in the things of God. You may be thinking, “Brian, I want to see people learn the truths about God’s kingdom, but I’m not a teacher like you, Andrew Wommack, or some other famous minister.”
While it may be true that you aren’t called to a five fold ministry office like myself or someone else with a platform ministry, every Christian is called to make disciples. The five fold ministry: apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher and evangelist are called to equip believers for the work of the ministry of making disciples. They are sort of look player coaches who both play the game and coach other players at the same time. Look at Ephesians 4:
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
God wants to fill the earth with His glory and one of the major ways that happens is when believers become disciples and begin to disciple others in the things of God. This tends to go contrary to a lot of modern Christian thought because many in the church hold a traditional point of view of clergy and laity. This is true even in contemporary churches.
The thought process is, “He’s the Pastor or she’s the Assistant Pastor. They are called to do the work of ministry. My job is to come to church on Sundays and financially support them and be their audience so they fell encouraged to do their work. I don’t actually have to study the word for myself, pray for the church or nation, serve in any way, and lead others to Jesus. I’m just laity.” While no one actually says those words, ask yourself if you were an alien from outer space and observing planet earth, isn’t that what you would think?
While it’s true full time staff are ministers and are called to make disciples, this is also true about anyone who is a Christian. So what does this look like practically? Imagine God called you to work for a CPA firm. That’s your occupation, however your primary vocation is to be a disciple of Christ. This means your first and foremost priority every day is honoring Jesus and fulfilling the Great Commission. Once you realize that, you realize how powerful you are because you can reach people that a pastor can’t. For example, you can pray for sick people in your office I’ll never get access to because they won’t darken the doors of the church. You can also live with honor and integrity and demonstrate the kingdom of God as you do your job will excellence. This will open doors for you to speak into people’s lives and disciple them.
I’ll give you an example of how I did this years ago. Prior to being a pastor, I worked as a recruiter for a large Fortune 500 company. I was responsible for soliciting business from companies and getting them to use our service to hire employees. I was really successful my job. I was the number 2 employee in the entire eastern region of the company in 2011 and 2012 prior to moving to Colorado. My co-workers often approached me for advice about how to get more business because of my success. Do you know what I told them my top secret was????
Tithing! This shocked them because they were looking for a practical piece of sales wisdom and I introduced them to principles about how the kingdom of God operates. Many of them were open to what I said too, because they wanted to be successful in their jobs so they could take care of their families. Many of these folks weren’t Christians, but they began to learn about the gospel of the kingdom because I was fulfilling my role on the team. I discipled others in my workplace, not just at church. This is something we can all do!
The implications of this are huge! This means you should believe for as much favor, wisdom, and provision to fulfill your assignment in life as Andrew Wommack or Joseph Prince do. You may not be in the five fold ministry, but you are a minister and God wants to open doors for you and provide for you. It also means you should live with the same measure of discipline and commitment Andrew Wommack and Joseph Prince do. These men live committed lives and are entirely focused on one thing; seeing the Great Commission fulfilled! Their entire life revolves around that purpose!
Going back to my analogy at the beginning of the article, do you think Bill Russell would have wanted players on the team who weren’t as disciplined and committed as he was? Of course not. He wanted his teammates to practice and train just as hard as he did because that’s what would help the Celtics win. Your commitment and effort matter to the success of the body of Christ fulfilling the Great Commission. That’s how we win! You are vital to God’s gameplan. You are called to fulfill a role no one else is called to and you are called to influence others no one else will reach!
I hope this article both challenged and encouraged you to join the team! Get involved and make disciples of Jesus in the position God has called you to in life! If some of what you read was really challenging and you feel like you just can’t live it, then give this article a read. It’s about how to depend on the spirit of God when God is calling you to do things that are beyond your natural ability!
Have a blessed week!