High Performance Christians
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 17, 2004


As a young boy, Kenneth Colin raised a number of pet ducks in his family’s garden. But when the neighbours started to complain because of the noise, Kenneth Colin had the ducks butchered and then sold them to the very same neighbours, earning a net profit of $100. It was early in the 1900s, and Kenneth Colin had already displayed a keen business sense at an early age.

Before long, Kenneth Colin found himself enlisted in the First World War where he served in the Royal Flying Corps. But when the war was over he left all that behind to return home to his family again. He was 20 years old. After working in his father’s General Store for a time, he opened the community’s first garage and service station in 1924. Customers liked the higher quality gasoline he provided, but more importantly, they appreciated the customer service.

It wasn’t long before others took notice of this ambitious young man with a strong work ethic. In time, Ford Motor Company asked Kenneth Colin to open a dealership. It was 1924 by this time, and he was 25 years old. And this was only the beginning for Kenneth Colin. That same year, he established his own company and expanded from there. Over the years, that one company would grow to over 300, each of them benefiting from all the others. And today, those companies have grown to employee thousands of people. The little gas station where service meant everything has grown into an empire, and when Kenneth Colin died about 12 years ago, he was one of the richest men in the world employing 1 in 12 people… in New Brunswick. Who am I talking about? You’ve all figured it out by now… K.C. Irving.

We all know the Irving name. We know the dramatic effect that the Irving family and all their related industries have had on our economy and our culture throughout the Maritimes. Over a span of about 60 years, K.C. Irving was the driving force behind the economy in Atlantic Canada. Gas stations, service stations, pulp and paper industries, shipping companies, Oil interests, Forestry, media outlets, railroads, food production and distribution, and more. You’d be hard pressed given the time span and the economic realities of the past century to find a more high performance company.

A number of years ago I was in Moncton ago for a meeting, and this particular meeting was at the Irving Building. What an incredible building. Top quality, state of the art, very impressive. I didn’t get to see much of the facilities - I don’t think they let people just wander around in there (at least not people like me) - but from what I did see it was obvious that the Irvings have been a very influential and successful family, particularly in this area of the world. As if that’s news to anyone. In fact, my father works for one of their many companies.

While I was there, I noticed a poster on the wall. And it was simply titled “The Road To Success.” And then underneath it, it stated: “High performance companies (in the 90’s) must...” And then it listed four things that I thought were pretty good so I wrote them down. And what I want to do this morning is give you the four things they listed and present them in the light of a relationship with Christ, and then allow you to determine whether or not you are set to be a High Performance Christian. And if you’re not, what changes will be necessary to get you there?


High Performance Christians Must…


1. Set A Direction.

You ever do any orienteering? I remember I used to do that in high school. I went to Fredericton High School in, of all places, Fredericton, and the school itself just a little ways from Odell Park right there in the city. And it’s a pretty big park. So we’d be given a map and a list of directions on how to find certain markers, but what we were really trying to do was hone our skills at using a compass to find our way. Really what I was doing was trying to find someone who knew what they were doing and follow them around. But the thing was, if you did one thing wrong you’d be lost for pretty much the rest of the time. And you could wander around for quite a while trying to get your bearings and establish a direction.

One of the neat thing about being a Christian is that we don’t need to determine the direction for our lives ourselves... God’s already done that. All we need to do is identify what that direction is.

God has given each one of us a reason for being here. He wants each one of us to make our own unique contribution. Isaiah 48:17 says…

Isaiah 48:17 (NLT)
“The LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, says: I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good and leads you along the paths you should follow.”

He has determined the direction for us; we just need to identify what it is.

God has done that for us here at Sunrise as a church. We call it our Mission Statement and it’s in your Sunrise Update this morning. We’ve identified the direction He’s given us as a church as being to introduce individuals to Christ and help them grow… That’s why we exist. That’s what we’re in Charlottetown to accomplish.

It’s our God-given cause. And it’s something that we’re willing to sacrifice for in order to attain. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey was an Irish politician who said…

“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.”
~ Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, The Price Of My Soul Preface, 1969

So let me ask you, what have you identified as being the God-given cause in your life that’s worth sacrificing for? What is your personal mission? What is the direction that God has laid out for you that you’re going to follow no matter what?

Three admonitions to help you set a direction:

a. Seek God’s counsel.

Remember, it’s God who establishes the direction, we just identify it. And the only way we’re going to be able to identify it is by seeking Him out through prayer and by reading the Bible.

This is what a man named Leonard Ravenhill said about prayer:

“Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade Him to move things our way, but an exercise by which we are enabled by His Spirit to move ourselves His way.”
~ Leonard Ravenhill

b. Make needed course adjustments.

You ever miss a turn? Back when I was in college, I agreed to drive a friend of mine to visit his girlfriend in New Hampshire. And we had another friend who decided to go along for the ride. It was over the Christmas holidays, and being the idiots we were, we decided to take two days… TWO DAYS… to drive down and back. I think we spent an hour there all together. Anyway, I was driving and everyone else was sleeping. So here I am, driving along, looking for the exit, when all of a sudden I see the sign… “Welcome to Massachusetts.” I very quickly found an exit, turned around, and headed back in the right direction.

Was I going the wrong way the whole time? No. When we left Canada we were heading in the right direction. But someplace along the way we missed an exit. We failed to make the necessary course adjustment. And because of that we had to back-track until we were on the right road again.

As you set off following God’s direction in life, you may only have a vague idea of where He’s leading you and where your destination is. But as you follow Him, your understanding of where He’s directing you is going to become clearer. So make the necessary course adjustments along the way as your understanding of His leading becomes clearer and as you get closer to your destination.

c. Keep going.

When you get discouraged, remember what God promised in Romans 8. Read this aloud with me…

Romans 8:28 (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

One of the most inspiring Olympic stories took place at the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968. During those games, Momo Wolde (Wold-ah) of Ethiopia won the marathon, the most historic of the Olympic events. The silver medal went to Kenji Kimahara of Japan, and the bronze medal went to Mike Ryan of New Zealand. They were awarded their medals during the final track & field award ceremony of the games.

But while they were celebrating and receiving their medals, many other athletes were still running the marathon. In fact, it wasn’t until a little over an hour later that the final competitor, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, entered the stadium.

Apparently, Mr. Akhwari had fallen early on in the race and had injured himself. And as he entered the stadium, the people who were still present could see his heavily bandaged right leg. Understanding that he must have been in a great deal of pain, the crowd cheered as he struggled toward the finish line and eventually crossed it. He was seen as a winner, although he would receive no medal for his accomplishment. His only reward was the satisfaction of finishing what he had started.

One journalist wrote about this event:

“Today we have seen a young African runner who symbolizes the finest in the human spirit, a performance that gives true dignity to sport, a performance that lifts sport out of the category of grown men playing at games, a performance that gives meaning to the word ‘courage.’ All honour to John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania.”
~ written of John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania, competitor in the 1968 Olympics

Many people were inspired by the enduring determination of this one man. When he was asked why he didn’t just quit, his response was simple:

“My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish the race.”
~ John Stephen Akhwari

That echoes what Paul wrote in Philippians 3. Read it with me…

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

God didn’t give you a mission in life just so you could identify it, put it on a plaque, and mount it on your wall. He gave it to you as something to be accomplished. And it may take an enduring determination to accomplish it. So keep going. Don’t give up.


All right. So high performance Christians must set a direction. High Performance Christians must also...


2. Make Swift Decisions.

It was the British Labour Politician Aneurin Bevan who said…

“We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.”
~ Aneurin Bevan

He was quoted as saying that in 1935, but it’s still true today. Anyone who’s going to make an impact in our world today needs to learn to make decisions. Joshua told the Israelites…

Joshua 24:15 (CEV)
“... If you don’t want to worship the Lord, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the Lord!”

The day of decision had come for them to decide on what god they were going to serve. That was the decision they were facing. But every decision has its time. Sun Tzu... now, I know that sounds like an animal theme park in Florida, but Sun Tzu was a Chinese general in the 5th century B.C., and he said…

“The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.”
~ Sun Tzu

The ability to make timely decisions is powerful and effective.

Three Warnings:

a. Don’t make uninformed decisions.

In the decision that Joshua was urging the Israelites to make, they knew their options. Joshua clearly laid out for them what they were deciding between. We need to know what our choices are. Investigate, research, study, ask, probe, find out whatever information you need to know to make an informed decision.

Some of you are in the process of making decisions right now, some major, some minor. Perhaps you’re looking at making a change in your career, or buying a house, or applying to college, or buying a pet. Whatever you do, don’t make uninformed decisions. Know what your options are, and know what you’re deciding between.

b. Don’t make irresponsible decisions.

Those of you that watch The Apprentice… a few weeks ago you saw someone make a rash, irresponsible decision by giving up their immunity, and Trump fired him for it. Why? Because he said that kind of irresponsible decision making would destroy his company. So consider your decisions carefully.

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT)
It is dangerous to make a rash promise to God before counting the cost.

Luke 14:28-30 (NIV)
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”

c. When you decide, decide.

We already read about the challenge that Joshua presented to the people…

Joshua 24:15 (CEV)
“... If you don’t want to worship the Lord, then choose right now!”

And the people declared that they would worship the Lord. But time and time again, the Israelites turned to God, turned away from God, turned to God, turned away from God. Read through the Old Testament and you’ll see that pattern over and over again.

In fact, the prophet Elijah confronted the Israelites on this very point by asking…

1 Kings 18:21 (NLT)
“How long are you going to waver between two opinions?”

Right now in the U.S., one of the tactics that the Bush campaign has used quite effectively has been to label Kerry as a flip-flopper. And it’s been effective because people don’t want to follow someone who can’t make firm decisions.

The ability to make decisions and stick by them is an important ingredient in the life of any person of influence today. How long will you waver between two opinions? If you choose to follow God and trust His guidance, do it wholeheartedly? Not just when it’s easy or convenient, but consistently through thick and thin, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer…

When you decide, decide. If you want peace of mind, if you want to be a positive influence, if you want to be a high performance Christian, that’s an ability you need to develop.


The third step to be a High Performance Christian is this:


3. Take Action.

Wayne Gretzky has been voted by The Hockey News as the best player in the history of the NHL, just edging out Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe. And he’s been quoted as saying…

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
~ Wayne Gretzky

You know how sometimes there’s a story that just sticks with you? I believe it was in my seventh grade Sunday school class when we read a story about a boy entering his first day of junior high. The very first thing he did was go to his locker and paint a big “V” inside the door. Nobody knew why he did it and he didn’t tell anyone, either. But year after year, this “V” always appeared in his locker. And no one understood until his graduation day came along and he was the class Valedictorian. He had set a direction for his life, but the only way he arrived at his goal was by committing himself to doing whatever was necessary to get him there. He took action.

James 2:17 tells us…

James 2:17 (NLT)
So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless.

There are all kinds of stories throughout the Bible about people who took action and made a difference... Ordinary people doing incredible things for God. I mean, isn’t it a shame that nobody got around to Noah to inform him, “Listen, Noah, there’s no way you’re going to be able to build a boat large enough to house all the kinds of animals there are. And even if you do, that kind of boat just isn’t going to float. It’s going down, Noah!” It’s too bad nobody told Moses… poor stuttering stammering ol’ Moses… that there was no way that he could stand up against Pharaoh let alone the entire Egyptian army and win. Why, that’s ridiculous! Or how about Joshua? “Joshua, you can’t possibly believe that you can walk around Jericho and beat on some drums and blow some horns and the walls are going to fall down. That just doesn’t happen.” Or to Daniel, “You can’t seriously expect to survive a night in a den of lions!” Or how about those early fishermen – the disciples. Isn’t it a shame that no one got around to telling them that they just weren’t the kind of material that God was going to use to change the world.

What enabled these people to overcome their fears and take action? I’ll tell you what it was. It was a confidence… not in their own ability, but in God’s. So don’t look at your own weaknesses or your feelings of fear that you will fail if you ever try to do anything great for God, because it doesn’t rest in your ability. What does the Bible say? It says that He will be greater in you than he that is in the world. It says that through Christ you can do all things. It says that He will do exceeding abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think.

He’s the God who makes the impossible possible.


High performance Christians must set a direction. Based on that direction they must make swift decisions. Based on those decisions they must take action. And from those actions they must get results.


4. Get Results.

Why is this important? Here’s two reasons:

Achieving a God-Given Goal:

1. Makes a Lasting Impact

2. Makes Your Unique Contribution.

So it’s important to get results. And in order to do that you’ve got to operate in your area of effectiveness. You’ve got to discover how God has uniquely equipped you to make a difference. You need to identify your gifts and passions. That’s an important process for every believer, and we’re going to help you do that. CLASS 301 that will be held in early December will be focused on helping you discover how God has equipped you.

Ephesians 4 says…

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)
He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ…

Then it goes on to talk about Jesus, and says…

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

God has uniquely gifted you to make a contribution that has a lasting impact. So we need to get results. We won’t always be able to measure and quantify those results, but the results of our obedience to His leading should be evident over time in our own lives, our church, and our community.

Now, realize as well that no matter what you do, it’s not going to mean a things if God isn’t pleased. That’s why I want to emphasis that any direction we set in life needs to be under the leadership of God. Because for those of us who call ourselves Christians, for those of us who have devoted ourselves to Him, it’s not our life… it’s His. So we need to live to please Him. In talking about getting results, the number one result we want is to please God by being faithful to His leadership.


High performance Christians must:

1. Set a direction.
2. Make swift decisions.
3. Take action.
4. Get results.

Where are you at, and what’s it going to take for you to increase performance?




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