In my life I have had many leadership roles. As a result I have had influence with those to whom I have responsibility and even authority over, including being a father, manager, non-profit board chairman, college teacher, and ministry team leader. In any of these roles I seek to understand the person and to place them in a position where they can develop their recognized talents and abilities, and be congruent in their actions. Whether it’s my children, my staff, my co-laborers in the ministry or my students I have learned that when someone is personally congruent, they are more motivated, energetic, accountable, productive, satisfied, and consistent in the work before them. I believe personal congruency is a vital key between personal success and personal failure in work, ministry, life, and any endeavor we participate in. This has been my observation, and I believe it is borne out in the scriptures.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Many scriptures have specific interpretations while also having other applications. That is, a scripture such as the one above is given in the context of personal salvation, yet an application is that there is a work that God has created for each of us, and thus we can conclude that to be involved in that which God has pre-ordained is what is best for us, and to not participate in that work, even if the work we are participating is honorable, is not what is best for us and can actually lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.
Galatians 2:20-21 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Again, here these verses center around the interpretation of personal salvation, and that a striving for approval of God requires works, then we are frustrating the grace of God. Yet an application is that if we can frustrate the grace of God by striving for works when works are not required, then we can be involved in other pursuits that, if outside of God’s plan for us, can lead to frustration. This frustration can manifest itself in an uneasiness in our spirit. It is not a condemnation, but, rather the Spirit of God ministering to us and seeking to lead us into that direction that is God’s perfect will for us.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Oftentimes the Proverbs will have an isolated verse that really packs a punch, such as does Proverbs 22:6. Yet without context (which isolated verses do not have), then we are obliged all the more to consider the scripture in the light of other scriptures and in the context of Biblical living as a whole. No verse should be taken individually, but should be compared with other scriptures. 1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. With the understanding shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and comparing scriptures with other scriptures, we can draw conclusions on principles of the kingdom of God, principles we can live by. One of those principles is in child training.
Training a child up in the way he should go is best described as according to the tenor of his way. That which is in harmony (congruent) with his disposition, his natural talents and his individual character. As a parent of eight children, my wife and I studied and identified the nature and disposition of each of our children. Three of our children are married, five are through college, and six are through high-school. They are all unique. When my oldest were to be married, beforehand I talked at length with each child and their prospective spouses. I stressed congruency, disposition, and personalities. It is said that “opposites attract” but in marriage one doesn’t want to be married to an “opposite.” One wants to be married to someone with a similar disposition, similar interests, similar temperaments, similar ambitions and goals. Aided in this are similar education, similar upbringing, similar worldviews, and a common Christian faith. Marry someone because the made you laugh, they were physically attractive, they have a good job, are all the wrong reasons. Personal congruency with one another should be the measuring rod.
I have some children who are quiet, some very gregarious, some orderly, some run-and-gun, some risk takers, others meditative, some creative, others more structured. As homeschool parents, my wife and I let our children learn individually according to their learning styles, personalities, and interests. I was visiting with a nurse before a medical procedure and we talked about children. She has two and says it’s all she can do to keep them in line and she doesn’t know what to do as her daughter is entering her teen years. My experience is that I have raised five girls through their teen years and didn’t have one iota of problems, not one. That was no accident. We indeed sheltered them from the influence of the world’s system – we had no TV in the home, we didn’t send them to public schools either; we attended church and did many family activities together. Our children feel a responsibility one to another and to their parents and to Christ the Lord. And we also trained them up in the way they should go. Their lives at home, be it learning in school, or being involved in activities, were personally congruent with their dispositions and makeup. Personal congruency gets results.
Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Colosioans 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. The interpretation of these verses center around raising children and a father’s actions toward them. Yet an application can be made for the workplace and ministry. Anyone who has anyone in authority over them has experienced persons who have violated these verses. They antagonize, provoke, and generally disrupt the environment. This causes the employee, student, or volunteer to be discouraged. It’s a no-win scenario when one cannot do anything right. People were created by God to be productive, to add value, to participate in that which moves themselves, their family, and those around them forward. This is built into the human DNA. Yet when violated it brings disappointment and despair. Parents can do it, husbands and wives can do it, employers can do it, leaders can do it.
2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. There is a purpose for you. There is that which God has designed you for, to be congruent, to be fulfilled, to be joyful in. We are saved and called with a holy calling, and ordained, to do that which is good and pleasing in God’s sight.
Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Let us again consider an application of this verse. Paul is writing an letter to the church in Colossae. He is writing to the leadership. They are to be fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. It is still a valid application to see that this principle applies to all of God’s people, that they, whether they are professional, tradesman, homemaker, teacher, retired, whatever, they are to be fruitful in every good work. One is fruitful when they are walking worthy of the Lord and thereby they are pleasing the Lord and they are doing so because they are participating in those activities that God has called them to do and that they are congruent in.
In the workplace I see people who want to be in management because “that’s where the money is.” But they are not managers – they don’t have people skills, they can’t manage time, they can’t provide direction to a staff – in general they are not managers. Pity the poor staff that has a manager like this. Someone who gives not goals, no direction, no mentorship, no nothing. The manager if frustrated because the staff isn’t performing; the staff is frustrated because the manager is out of touch. No one wins. God would have all of us, managers and staff, be fruitful in their work.
Personal congruency is required too because in any endeavor there are going to be trying times, difficult times, discouraging times, and hard times. If we are “in it for the money” rather than in it because this is God’s will for us, then we’ll quit, throw in the towel, and have to start over again. This cycle repeats itself, sometimes for an entire life. Hard times will come, those sure of what they are doing and why will have the staying power to persevere and see the reward (fruit). This requires personal congruency in our activities.
As a manager of staffs over these past 17 years, I can say with a clear conscious that I have never had a staff member quit on me because I was hard to get along with, didn’t have my act together, kept them in the dark, frustrated them, demotivated them, disrespected them, or abused them. I have dismissed staff members for having skills inconsistent with our department/company’s needs, but now one has quit on me for reasons other than relocating. Many times staff has said to me I was the best manager they ever worked for. It wasn’t because I gave out free passes (I didn’t) and it wasn’t because I didn’t have serious behind-closed-doors talks when needed (I did). It was because I understood personal congruency. My goals were always to put people in a position where they could provide the most value to the organization and that they could grow as well.
This is a principle of the kingdom of God. I wanted the best for children, staff, students, and volunteers because God wanted the best for my children, staff, students, and volunteers. Growing and producing are consistent with the teachings of the Bible. 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Titus 3:14 And let our’s also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. Again, a biblical principle is to be productive and fruitful. This applies to our entire lives, not just how many Bible verses we can quote or how often we attend church. It goes to our daily living, and being productive, fruitful, and growing is what God desires for us, and for us to meet that we need to be personally congruent in our activities.
So how does one go about finding their personal congruency? Let’s list seven key areas that if understood and pursued, one will indeed find God’s perfect will for their life! (Thanks to the late Ken Willing for some of these concepts.)
1. Know the Bible. To realize your God-given purpose, one should possess a good working knowledge of the Bible and the ways of the Lord. The Bible has many life principles and it has many general behavior exhortations, such as “obey your father and mother.” These are easy to understand, and all such principles in the Bible that are clear, straightforward, and apply universally should be adopted upon learning by the Christian. This is God’s will for you. The Word of God instructs us, gives us understanding, and renews our minds to the mind of Christ. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. This is indispensable for successful Christian living.
2. Prayer. There isn’t a verse which says, “Joan Smith, you are to be a nurse” or one which states “Frank Jones, you are to do engineering work” or “Mary Perry, you must be in sales.” So how do you determine the specific productive, congruent work for you which would be consistent with the will of God? Prayer is one of the key ingredients to finding God’s specific will for our lives. Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
3. Prioritize. It is profitable to us to make understanding and doing God’s will a priority in our life. Living for Christ must not be an “add on,” something we do when we have nothing else to do. Rather, we give priority to God’s Word, to God’s ways, and to following the leading of the Lord. This is another method whereby God reveals his heart and will to us. James 4:13-15 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
4. Trust. We must trust that God has our best interest in mind, that he desires to lead and guide us, and that he has a plan for us. We learn to trust God through the above actions – Bible Study, Prayer, Prioritized Actions. As we trust God, his will is increasingly reveled in us. Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
5. Evaluate. Let us evaluate our own lives. What things that are edifying do we enjoy? What is our makeup? What are we naturally gifted at? This should be evaluated carefully. God equips us in special ways and we should consider what are our talents. Note how in the Good Book God gave people special gifts – even natural talents but talents used for His kingdom and His glory. Consider these verses:
Science, engineering, technology Daniel 1:3-4 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; 4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
Craftsman, Metalworkers, Builders Exodus 31:3-5 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
Managers, Supervisors, Foremen 2 Chronicles 34:12a And the men did the work faithfully. Their overseers were Jahath and Obadiah the Levites, of the sons of … the sons of the Kohathites, to supervise…
Singers, Musicians, the Arts 2 Chronicles 34:12b …Others of the Levites, all of whom were skillful with instruments of music.
The Ministry Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Luke, the author of the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts was a physician who had a career change! Others in the scriptures were businessmen, others still farmers, or herdsmen. Daniel was a gifted administrator. The list goes on and on, persons who were gifted to do a role that benefited others and, when harnessed for God, were used to advance the kingdom of God. Why wouldn’t you want to use your God-given talents for your creator? You must identify them!
6. Counsel. For the serious Christian, they should submit themselves to other godly men and women who can speak into their lives. One should seek out persons with a track-record of success in the areas wherein they desire input. Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels. In the workplace I have seen persons wholly unequipped and disposed for the work they are being paid, and it’s a shame. In ministry I see persons declare themselves to be teachers or evangelists and from my training, understanding, and experience it’s clear to me that they are not teachers nor evangelists. But if they don’t ask counsel, they wander off incongruent and unfulfilled and ineffective and unproductive. Seek out wise counsel, and from more than one person. You receive counsel, and together with the five items previously listed, you can further zero in on identifying the specific will of God for yourself.
7. Balance. It can be a hindrance to understanding God’s will if our life is out of balance. Just as an automobile is designed to run on eight cylinders, if one cylinder is not working then performance and economy suffer – it’s out of balance. So too with our life. Understanding congruency also includes being in balance. Consider if your life is in balance. Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Consider the diagram The Balanced Wheel the smallest circle to be 25% of your desired capacity. The second smallest circle is 50%, then 75%, and finally the outer circle is 100%. For each of these seven areas, fill in the pie section to the percent appropriate to the nearest 25%. 100% doesn’t mean you are perfect. It does mean that you have that category well under control and are only making incremental improvements, as you’ll do for the rest of your life, but no major area within the category is left undone. (Thanks to the late Zig Ziglar for this concept.)
Look for where there is more than a 25% spread in any area, up or down. For example, if all areas were at some combination of 100% and 75%, and one area was 25%, then some focus needs to be on upgrading the 25% attribute. Get help and/or make a plan to get the score up. Also, if, say most of the scores are 50%, but you have one at 100%, then you may be spending too much time on that attribute to the determent of growth and balance with the others. Whatever makes the wheel “unbalanced” is what needs attention. Use this wheel to evaluate if you’re in balance. 1 Corinthians 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? The principle is that all parts of the physical body are important; so too all parts of our Christian living are important and not to be neglected.
Use the follow definitions to arrive at your score for the Balanced Wheel. Then set goals in each area that need to improve to make your life more in balance. All “50%s” is better than some 25%s and others at 100%. Look for balance, then listen to the Lord as to what you should be doing!
Family: Marriage, children, extended family (siblings, cousins, etc.), visits, relationships, order.
Social: Network of friends, neighborhood, political involvement, membership in organizations, invited to others homes and you invite persons over, finding new friends.
Financial: Investments, retirement plan, will, savings, checking, debt-free, adequately insured, diversified in earning ability, net worth, homeowner, tax plan.
Spiritual: At peace, church or synagogue family, firm beliefs, involved in ministry, growing personally in the faith, spiritually disciplined, prayer life, reading plan.
Career: Established in employment, regular promotions or expansion of responsibilities, satisfied, increasing in influence, well-networked, skill set portable, well liked, educated.
Physical: Health numbers good (cholesterol, bp, etc.), annual check-up, weight-training, aerobics, sound nutrition, modest eating habits, mobile and agile, weight under control, recreation, healthy.
Mental: Intellectually stimulated, sound mind, not given to worry, clear thinker, problem solver, logical decision maker, good judgment, committed to lifelong learning, creative, able to relax. EQ high. No addictions.
Now, when you commit to studying the Bible and being taught the Bible, when you purpose to pray, when you give the general will of God priority in your life, when you trust God is for you, when you evaluate the legitimate and honorable desires of your heart and your talents, when you seek out godly counsel for input, and when you identify the out-of-balance areas of your life and work to being those into balance, then you will have “cleared the deck” to be in a very, very strong position to ascertain, understand, recognize, and agree with God specific will for your life. It is here you will find your maximum pleasure.
When you have God’s specific will understood for your life, and you are doing it, you will be satisfied, at peace, and completely congruent. Psalms 128:1 Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. John 10:10 … I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Let us trade frustration, dissatisfaction, discouragement, confusion, anxiety, and the general blues for God’s perfect will. No matter how much we have messed up, missed it, fell behind, and wasted years, we can begin anew and afresh, thanks be to Jesus Christ the Righteous. Isaiah 61:1-4 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. 4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
Let us strive toward Personal Congruency, walking in God’s perfect will for us. We can build and keep building on this foundation, a foundation ordained by God for us specifically. His name be praised and blessed evermore.