“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” (Philippians 3:17 NKJV) Paul’s statement recognizes that there are two kinds of people. People who talk, and people who walk. (That principle is eloquently reflected by the Sundance Kid when he said, “Keep talking there, Butch. That’s what you’re good at.”)
Walk in the Right Pattern
My freshman year at Southwest Texas State University in 1972 I was on a Navigator team of five guys who were committed to making disciples. The Navigators are an international ministry founded by Dawson Trotman back in 1933. The book “Daws: A Man Who Trusted God” (by Betty Skinner) tells the story of how Dawson recognized a need to go deeper than “hit and run” evangelism to build disciple-making relationships.
The Navigators have been accused of being too radical, and have even been called a cult. Their military-like commitment to training and discipleship can seem radical to some outside of their ministry, I guess. From the inside, I found them to be a group of sincere, authentic guys who helped teach me how to live out my faith. They spoke often about “walking the walk” rather than just “talking the talk.”
Walking With Focus
Our group worked together daily on being not just believers but disciples. Part of our commitment was that we wouldn’t date if we were on the team because we were going to be investing our time in making disciples, not spending it on dating. It was a big challenge for all of us on a campus where there were four girls in the student population for every guy. I still think SWT had the prettiest girls in the whole state.
When the guys on the team would talk about “heart problems”—spiritual challenges that got in and messed with your head—avoiding temptation from female companionship always made the top of the list. The girls at the BSU (Baptist Student Union) teased us by calling us the “Never daters”, and for most of my freshman year, we didn’t. (That Spring I was released from my “no dating” pledge because the team was in transition, and I got involved with Campus Crusade, where, of course, there were girls…)
Walking on Campus
But for most of my freshman year, David Sneller, Bill Henry, Randy Dietz, and Tommy Ledbetter spent time showing me how to do evangelism in the dorms, conduct Bible Studies, and memorize Scripture. We did service projects (we helped my parents move one weekend, painted someone’s house another, and did various acts of service as a team…)
It wasn’t all just militant discipleship. They were a fun and engaging team. We played intramural football together, went canoeing down the Guadalupe, and hung out. What I discovered, and what I could SEE was that these guys didn’t just TALK about the Bible; they really tried to apply it in their lives every day.
Walking on Campus
I’m not gonna lie, the no-dating thing was hard for all of us, but in many ways life was simpler. We were on a mission. (Ha, as I write this, I still can’t believe we really did that. So if you are skeptical I understand, but it made sense at the time and it was really a very rewarding year!). Here in Philippians, Paul was so secure in his walk that he offered himself as a pattern to follow.
I’m thinking there are very few folks whose actions allow them to do that… But the guys on our Navigator team at SWTSU in 1972 were guys like that. They were authentic, transparent men who walked the walk. Dave Sneller told me my first week on campus, “If you really want to be accountable this year, spend the first few days standing on the Quad wearing a big sign. Have the sign say, If you want to see what a Christian really looks like, watch me”.
I, for one, didn’t have the courage to do that, but imagine the help you’d get if you did, and the accountability you would create by saying, I am the pattern—watch me.
Walk Wherever You Are
Gives a whole new meaning to “Here’s your sign”, doesn’t it? Christian, where’s YOUR sign? Is anyone watching you? Have you offered yourself as a pattern to anyone? I learned a lot about following Jesus from those guys. In fact, I have been incredibly blessed with authentic people throughout my life who have helped me understand about walking with God.
Over the course of my life, I have learned about authenticity from my parents, teachers and friends I had in high school, and of course that Navigator team in 1972… After college, I have found accountability from guys in Young Life like Mark Krimm, Dave Martin, Joey Turner and Christian Hemberger. I have also found loving accountability from my lovely wife, who has shown me more about Jesus than anyone else I’ve ever known. If Paul’s message means anything to us, then he is saying: be a pattern. I would enlarge upon that by saying, No, wait: you already ARE a pattern. Be a good one
Walk the Talk
Paul told the Philippians that his life was a sample
Of how to walk with God, and they should follow his example.
“Talk is cheap” the Proverb says, and when you get right to it,
There are lots of folks who talk, but never really do it.
So here’s another Proverb for the ones who talk the talk:
If you are going to say it, then you better walk the walk.
To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread