Building Commitment vs Compliance

Christians often act in ways that reflect the environment around them. They can get into the habit of attending a Bible study, meeting with a disciple, and praying with others simply because that’s what everyone else does. But are they engaged in activities they truly believe in? Are they convinced from the heart that serving others in Christian community, making disciples, and sharing their faith is the best way to live? Do they see these things as ways to ultimately glorify God? Or are they merely doing what is expected of them?

This exercise would work well with the core workers in a home group. It is designed to help people become aware of their own attitudes toward their Christian walk. Are they committed or merely compliant?

  1. Use a whiteboard to record how people in your group answer these questions.
    • What is the difference between compliance and commitment? Answers may include:
      Compliance vs. Commitment
      • external vs. internal
      • right thing vs. right reason
      • man-pleasing vs. personal conviction
      • avoid negative consequences vs. fulfill mission
      • behavioral vs. attitudinal
      • short-term vs. eternal
      • compulsion vs. voluntary
      • under supervision vs. when no one is watching
      • fear-based vs. love-based
      • rules/law/legalism vs. grace
      • conditional vs. ‘all-in’
      • circumstantial vs. ‘no matter what’
      • ‘enough to get by’ or ‘not be the worst’ vs. ‘do my best’/extra-mile
      • shallow vs. deep
      • superficial vs. real
      • conforming vs. transforming
      • repetitive vs. rejuvenating
      • tradition vs. purpose
      • comparative vs. supportive
      • ‘got to’/duty/checklist vs. ‘get to’/privilege
      • passive vs. active
      • static vs. dynamic
      • dead vs. alive
      • consensus vs. vision
      • institutional vs. movement
      • ‘letter’ vs. the ‘spirit’
    • What are the tell-tale signs or symptoms that indicate a compliance mind-set is present in a home group?  Give some examples of where you might see compliance surfacing. (cf Isaiah 29:13ff) Answers might include:
      • people coming & leaving right on the bell
      • disengaged during the meeting
      • ‘entertain me’ mind-set:  “what can I take vs what can I give?”
      • resistant to change – complacent – satisfied with the status quo
      • going through the motions
      • clique-minded vs outreach-minded
      • sharing seems superficial or meant to impress others
      • grumbling about additional time like worker’s meetings
      • complaining as a general rule vs thankful
      • church-laity mindset in the group (“leaders’ job to do all the work”)
      • atmosphere of a ‘social club’ or ‘legalistic goose-stepping’ or ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ vs the quadrant of a healthy church where real body-life & encouragement/admonishment take place: lack of godly discipline under grace
      • prayers very self-focused or connected to peripheral issues
      • conflicts centered around fleshly jealousies & pettiness
      • people wanting the title of leaders without any real personal ministry
      • rewards based on seniority system
      • hoop-jumping mentality – just ‘tell me what to do’
      • financial giving is by formula or duty – usually near the minimum level
      • little outreach; little transformation
    • Which is easier to achieve in a group: commitment or compliance?  Why?
      Compliance is far easier because…
      • functional vs. relational
      • performance vs. person
      • give them the rules vs. cultivating understanding
      • arms’ length vs. heart
      • managing vs. leading
      • directing vs. inspiring
      • conforming vs. transforming
      • creating a system vs. building a team
      • robots vs. stewards
      • telling vs. asking
      • answering what/how vs. why
      • Unbelief vs. belief
      • Flesh vs. spirit
      • Standby vs. wading in (messy)
      • *** “Do what I say vs follow what I do.”
    • What are the short- and long-term effects of settling for compliance vs. calling for commitment in our group?
      No risks, Safe, Less messyInvolves relational risk, Messy
      Compliance can get quicker behavioral results (just give them the rules - people often want to be just told what to do)Often slower results intially, but long-term yields radical change
      Tends to attract other 'compliers'Can win both compliers and rebels, but will tend to repel those who are bent on compliance only, or whose rebellion is against the message of the cross
      Tends to repel 'rebels' (potentially the 'big fish') who hate compliersAchieves a deep sense of mission from the heart; conscience & soul of the person on experiential level
      Very task & ‘hoop’ oriented without requiring the whole of the personEmpowers them to become dependent on God
      Promotes conditional relationships; two-way manipulation & bullyingFosters interdependence in community of deep love relationships
      People become dependent on the leader 
      Often coincides with double-lives 
      People tend to give the best part of themselves to the world 
      • YOUR COMPLIANCE BEGETS COMPLIANCE IN THE GROUP. Also, even if you start out committed, if you fail to address compliance in a group you will inevitably drift toward compliance yourself.
      • YOUR COMMITMENT BEGETS COMMITMENT IN THE GROUP. And, the group’s commitment will spur you on to even greater commitment.
  2. So what is necessary to build a culture of commitment in our group?  Solicit input from folks and cover the ABCs below.
    1. A LOT depends on our personal commitment as influencers in this group and as AUTHENTIC AMBASSADORS. WE have to be committed. Commitment is ‘caught,’ not just ‘taught.’
      • How do you influence see YOU?  Lou Holtz’s 3 questions –
        1. Do they trust you?
        2. Are YOU committed?
        3. Do you care about them as a person?
      • Where do you see/others see compliance creeping in your life? How about compromise?
      • What does Paul want to replicate?
        • He knows you can’t replicate it unless you live it out.
        • Pure heart – cleansed of sin (HEART)
        • Clear conscience – cleansed of guilt (MIND)
        • Sincere faith – cleansed of hypocrisy (SOUL)
        • How does it feel?  What does it produce?
          Vision; Peace; Wisdom; Integration; Sense of Awe; Thanksgiving; Humility; Purpose; Power
      • What qualified you to be a leader?  God’s backward wisdom.
        • Paul’s example; Levi
        • Deliver me (Savior) – Lead me (Lord)
      • People need to know how much you CARE before they care how much you KNOW.
      • Commitment is born and nurtured in a RELATIONSHIP. Note the depth of Paul’s relationship with Timothy and the Ephesian elders & their reliance on one another. Is it just circumstantial that he knows the names of Timothy’s family (do you keep a pulse on what’s going in with the families of the key workers in your group)? Think back to how YOU become committed to following Christ – chances are it was someone who played a key role in your life.
      • Scriptures - Acts 20:15-31, 33-38;  1 Tim 1:5; 1 Tim 4; 1 Tim 6:1-16, 20; 2 Tim 1;3-5, 11-14; 2 Tim 2:1-8, 15-16, 20-26; 2 Tim 3; 2 Tim 4:5-7; Php 3:17; Php 4:6; Tit 1:1-4; Tit 2:1; Tit 3:8-9
    2. BE convinced and confident of God’s commitment to you; leaders remember what qualified you to be a leader in the first place (1 Tim 1:13-18).
      1. Do you trust God?
        • Have you entrusted God with your whole heart, with your conscience and your soul?
        • What does it mean to have a clear/good/blameless conscience? (from Gary DeLashmutt’s notes)
          • It seems to center around being responsive to God’s personal conviction/leading.  As we hear God’s voice convicting us either about sin or about steps of love to take, we are to be sensitive to his voice and be ready/willing to obey it.
          • The opposite of this would be a hardened heart.  It may also be a horizontal, man-pleasing mindset.
          • See also God’s counsel to David in Ps. 32:8,9.  God wants us to respond to his personal counsel, rather than having to take disciplinary measures (“use bit and bridle”) to get our attention.
        • What are the signs of a good conscience?  How would you recognize it in yourself/others? (from Gary DeLashmutt’s notes)
          • Confessing sins/convictions that no one else would have known about otherwise or before others always have to bring it to your attention
          • Taking steps of faith in ministry that no one would have known about or reproved you for not doing
          • Why is this so important for a leader?
          • We grieve the Spirit when we ignore/reject his personal guidance in any are of our lives.  Spiritual power is gained or forfeited largely by our dealings with God when no one else is watching.
          • Leadership requires getting direction from God—but we can’t get direction from God for the church or others if we’re not responding to his direction in our own personal lives.
        • How can you develop this? (from Gary DeLashmutt’s notes)
          • Ask God to show you if you have a bad conscience in any area—agreeing in advance to obey what he shows you.
          • Bring out into the light any known areas of bad conscience. (SO OFTEN THE PROBLEM WITH NON-GROWING CHRISTIANS IN YOUR HOME GROUP)
          • Confess sins to others as you are convicted about them!  Insist on this with those you disciple!
          • When you get conviction/leading about something, share it with a fellow worker.  This will help commit you to obedience.  (ME WITH CONFRONTING SOMEONE, SINCE MY TENDENCY IS TO AVOID IT.)
      2. Do you believe that GOD is committed?
        • Do you have a deep & clear sense of the sacrificial way God has worked throughout history into the present and the trajectory of his plans for the future?
      3. Does God care about YOU as a person? Or do you view him as a task-master
        ​Scriptures? Acts 20:28, 32, Rom 8:38; Jn 3:16; 1 Tim 1:15-16; 2 Tim 1:1-2, 12; 2 Tim 1:6-14; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Ps 27;  Eph 3:12;  Php 1:6;  2 Tim 4:8, 16-18; Tit 2:11-14; Tit 3:3-7
    3. Call for commitment to God, NOT compliance to you.
      ​Key points:
      • Beware of lowering the bar of God’s calling for unabashed devotion to Christ.
        “Like attracts like. Those who are attracted by the dedication they see within the movement will themselves be possessed of a latent idealism, a capacity for dedication. Thus dedication perpetuates itself. It sets the tone and pace of the movement as a whole. This being so, the movement can make big demands on its followers… If (an) organization makes relatively few demands upon its members and if they quite obviously feel under no obligation to give a very great deal to it, then those who join may be forgiven for supposing that this is the norm and that this is what membership entails.” Douglas Hyde, Dedication and Leadership (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966) 158 pages. 9th printing, 1983. Hyde is describing the importance of dedication in the communist movement.
      • God reveals & prioritizes steps of faith for individuals in His timing according to personal conviction, not according to our formula – beware of this compliance pitfall.
      • Use God’s Word to call for obedience among compliers & rebels alike, which is different than compliance.
      • REWARD steps of commitment, and IGNORE acts of compliance, or you will attract compliers and repel rebels – show compliers Christ and challenge them to follow Him, not you.
      • Look for opportunities to surprise rebels by moving TOWARD them instead of waiting for them move toward you – show them Christ and challenge them to follow Him, not you.
      • Seize on opportunities PRESENTED BY FAILURE –  instead of simply punishing non-compliant behavior, dig deeper to help people see the freedom in God’s truth and living under grace.
      • Model the confidence & power of knowing Christ with humility & gratitude through your personal vulnerability & transparency achieved by brokenness.
      • Cultivate Christ-like love relationships from house-to-house within & among your group.
      • In times of prayer, teaching, relating & sharing, as the leader cultivate an ethos of speaking to one another’s hearts, appealing to one another’s consciences, and challenging one another’s very souls.
        Scriptures?  Acts 20:20-31, 35-36; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Tim 1:5, 18-19; 1 Tim 3; 1 Tim 5:21; 1 Tim 6:17; 2 Tim 1:7-14; 2 Tim 3:14; Tit 1; 2 Tim 1:15-18; 2 Tim 2:1-7, 14, 16-19,; 2 Tim 3:10-17; 2 Tim 4: Php 3:17; Php 4:6; 2 Tim 4:9-10; Tit 2:2-10, 15, 24-26;  Tit 3
  3. You may want to send your workers home with the material below. Ask them review these practical examples of building commitment vs. fostering compliance from 2 Tim 2. (Adapted from Gary DeLashmutt’s paper, 2 Timothy 2:14-26 Keys for Christian Workers – Part 3)

2 Timothy 2:14-18

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.

The “these things” of 2:14 refer back to the trustworthy statement of 2:11-13, which presuppose the future resurrection that Hymenaeus and Alexander are denying. The antidote to destructive theological error and speculation is leaders/teachers who handle the Word accurately and feed people with sound doctrine.

What is involved in handling the Word accurately?  Why does it take diligence to be able to do this? Why should we be ashamed if we can’t do this?

It involves not just general familiarity with the Bible, but emphasizing what the Bible emphasizes (e.g., grace, faith, and the healthy life they should produce--see 1 Tim. 1:5).  It also involves using the Word to refute theological error and doctrinal tangents that pull your flock away from God’s priorities.  (See Titus 1:9 for these two responsibilities.)  What errors/tangents have you had to refute?

EXAMPLES: charismania; tribalism; materialism; super-spiritual search theology; ministry under law; materialism & autonomy masked beneath superficial niceness & criticism of cussing, etc.; anti-leadership mentality; end-times speculation focus; anti-conferral sentiment; anti-enthusiasm coldness; worship-service emphasis; uncritical IT usage; therapeutic humanism & victimology; American Christians using Jesus to facilitate their agendas

This requires diligence to stay in the Word so that you stay exposed to its priorities, get fresh revelation, and maintain discernment.  It also requires diligence to stay in touch with the flock so you can discern the errors and tangents.  How do you do this?

EXAMPLES: Carson plan or equivalent; reading quality Christian books; conferring with one another and other home group leaders about what they’re seeing; listening critically to the flock, popular Christian books

We should be ashamed if we can’t do/aren’t doing this because this is the heart of our responsibility as leaders—to give people God’s perspective, to lead people into the mind of Christ.  Otherwise, we are passively letting the enemy deceive them, giving them our opinions, repackaging the world’s perspective, schmoozing or controlling, etc.

Has anyone felt shame over/needed to repent from lack of diligence in this area?

2 Timothy 2:19-23

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

Explain the illustration.  Wealthy homes had expensive vases that brought honor to the owner; they also had common jars, toilet bowls, etc. that brought no honor to the owner. 

Note once again the connection between personal sanctification and ministry effectiveness.

Unlike inanimate vessels, we can choose what kind of vessel we will be, and we can cooperate with God’s sanctification initiative by fleeing worldly lusts and pursuing the priorities of a godly life.  We can each become vessels that bring honor to him--models of a godly life, able to inspire others to be godly, and guiding people who have decided to embrace this way of life.

No amount of biblical knowledge, spiritual or natural gifting, etc. can make up for progress in godly character.  We have seen leader after leader flame out or underachieve because they failed to take their sanctification seriously.

EXAMPLES: marriage issues; hiding and tolerating secret sin (e.g., porn); softness in generosity & material self-indulgence; denying or justifying or ignoring besetting sins

See 2:22.  This is the issue of your affections--what you get excited about, what truly motivates you, your true joy and delight, etc.  We all have an “affection vacuum” which must be filled by something.  We must be willing to flee from worldly lusts (materialism, sensuality, etc.)--but unless we are cultivating a life that truly enjoys the things of God, we will be spiritually impotent and hypocritical or ultimately dragged back to worldly lusts.  How do you cultivate affections for the things of God?

EXAMPLES: consistent investment in prayer, Word, fellowship, ministry; doing it with others who truly want the same way of life; putting your heart in it vs. dabbling; taking scary steps of faith in ministry; being around this kind of person whenever possible; being honest when your heart is cold, but asking the Lord to help this and stepping out in faith

2 Timothy 2:24-26

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Note the mysterious connection between the way we handle opponents and their repentance.  Four parties are named: us, them, God, and Satan.  As we handle them properly, God works through us to convict them and expose Satan’s lies--thereby making it easier for them to choose to repent.  We can  make them repent, but we can make it easier for them to repent!

“Those who are in opposition” refers to people within the flock who are into pretty serious sin (e.g. DIVISIVE; BAD DOCTRINE; SEXUAL IMMORALITY; etc.)--not lesser conflicts and sin-issues.

What are Paul’s key guidelines for handling such people?

  • Move toward them vs. withdrawing from them, ignoring the issue, etc.
  • Conduct yourself with kindness and patience and gentleness vs. getting dragged down in the mud with them by quarreling, blowing up, etc.  (When you fail to do this, be sure to apologize.)  This may make it easier to hear God’s perspective and more difficult to discount God’s perspective as it comes through you (see below).  In order to do this, we have to take our security from God rather than how they view/respond to us.
  • Focus on what God says (teach; correct) vs. letting it be horizontal only.  Their real issue is with God and what he says, even though they usually claim they are walking with God and that you/others are the problem.  (When people are in sin, they must either repent or discredit the agents of God’s conviction.)  What would it look like to “bring it back to vertical?”
  • Ask them what God says about this issue, what it looks like to trust God in this area, etc.
  • Try to remind them of what God says about the issue, their attitude, etc.  Show them scripture wherever possible.
  • Ask them if they have asked God to reveal his will on this issue--with an advance commitment to do what he says.
  • Before you go and while you are talking with them, pray for them, for wisdom and guidance, and for protection because this is spiritual battle.
  • PS This is a great passage for parents of teenagers!

What do FAITHFUL people look like? (Adapted from Gary DeLashmutt’s paper, 2 Timothy 2:1-13 Keys for Christian Workers – Part 2)

  • Are you investing in “faithful people?”
    • Are you discipling realistic leader candidates?  Or are you getting together with people who don’t really want to grow and serve?
    • What do “faithful people” look like?
      • Do they evidence interest in the Word?  Disciples are “learners,” and Jesus said we are his disciples if we abide in his Word (John 8:31,32).  How do they habitually respond to teachings—with excitement and conviction, or with boredom?  Do you see any evidence that they are reading the Bible on their own?  Do they ask spiritual questions and respond to good answers?  Or do they only want to debate, want to spend time with you without expressing real interest in spiritual things, etc.?
      • Are they honest about what is going on in their life?  Jesus said the “good soil” signifies people with “honest and good hearts” (Luke 8:15).  Prospective disciples will admit the sin-problems they are struggling with, and often seek help for them.  Do they respond properly to God's discipline (through others and directly from God)?  Or do they always have to be corrected by people, agree but don't act, etc.?  Beware of the dishonest double-life!
      • Do they show a willingness to serve others?  Do you hear about them talking to others about Christ?  Do they respond to requests for ministry help?  Do they offer to help people out in practical ways?  Look closely here—sometimes the evidence is subtle.
      • Do they take challenging steps of faith?  They are demonstrating that their relationship with God, and his promises, is real to them and impacts their lives. (EXAMPLES: financial giving; confessing sin; witnessing; confronting)?  Or do they usually stay in their comfort zone?  Remember: what is challenging to them may not be challenging to you at this point.
      • Do they have/make the time to commit to your home group?  Or are they chronically preoccupied with other matters (see 2 Tim. 2:4; Mk. 4:18,19)?  Spiritually hungry people make time for spiritual things.
    • Are you intentionally “entrusting” these “healthy words” of both doctrine and lifestyle (1:13 >> 1 Tim. 1:5)?  Or is your time together undirected “hanging out?”  It means being in synch with the Holy Spirit to help them develop in 4 areas: WORD, CHARACTER, MINISTRY & PRAYER.
      Note the connection between these areas and 1 Tim. 4.  We are to make progress in these areas in our own lives, and to help other hungry people make progress in the same areas!