So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
In his leadership masterpiece, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey invoked Aesop’s familiar fable about the goose that laid the golden eggs. Covey wrote, “True effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose).”1 If we only focus on production and neglect the people and equipment used in the process, we eventually lose the ability to create anything. When we focus solely on production capability, however, we produce nothing. Effectiveness lies in devoting needed attention to both.
The apostle Paul never read Covey’s book—missed it by a couple millennia, actually—but he certainly understood and applied this concept. Citing those who preach and teach among us, Paul pointed to God’s purpose: “to prepare his people for works of service.” Solid Biblical instruction is not an end in itself, rather it prepares us (production capability) for a purpose: to serve others (production). Jesus put it this way, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”2
Yet just as one tool might be manufactured for the purpose of producing something else, so our service to others ultimately becomes the means that lead to yet a higher purpose and a greater outcome—the building up of the body of Christ and the exaltation of God. Again, Jesus: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”3
God’s blessings were never intended to stop with us, but to flow out from us, blessing others and glorifying God. And it is to these ends that our learning and serving make us all the more effective. It’s a good habit to get into.
Father, bless us to bless others, grace us to grace others, and may our lives bring you praise. Amen.
1 Stephen R. Covey. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (New York: Fireside), 54.
2 John 13:17
3 Matthew 5:16