As an African-American, I cringe when I hear the word “slave” as it immediately evokes images of four hundred years of oppression of Black people. I wince when I think of the beatings, lynchings, and inhumane treatment that people of African descent endured. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, Jim Crow laws made life a living hell for many of my ancestors. Slavery equals oppression and denial of rights. Slavey means injustice and poverty. But, could slavery also be a blessing? When considered in the context of scripture, it is this question that challenges me to consider developing the voice of a slave.
The apostle Paul, once a persecutor of the early Christian church, became one of its staunchest and most fearless advocates after his conversion to Christianity. After his personal encounter with God on the road to Damascus, Paul (formerly named Saul) was enlightened as to God’s displeasure with persecution of Christians. When confronted under the light of God, Paul transformed his life to become one of Christianity’s greatest missionaries. Paul’s two missionary journeys are nothing short of amazing. But, what was the secret to his success? Some might argue that it is his courage and conviction to preach the gospel. I certainly think that that plays a part. But, many courageous and convicted people are not as successful in their endeavors. I believe the answer is found in the book of 1 Corinthians. He learned the voice of a slave. That is the true voice of influence.
Here is Paul’s account of his slave voice:
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Here are a few of the questions that immediately come to my mind as I read Paul’s slave.
Why would Paul make himself a slave to everyone? What’s wrong with him? Won’t he lose his own sense of identity in trying to accommodate everyone else? Does it really take all of that to live for the sake of the gospel?
Advertising is everywhere. Television, radio, bulletin boards, online banners, and other media channels bombard us with advertising designed to steer our preferences for practically everything—striving to claim a share of our thinking and of course our wallets. They spend hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars for 30 second spots intended to grab our attention. Its called “branding”. Does it work? Yes. You know that Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan sneakers is Nike’s brand. Those of us over forty still remember the images of the lonely Maytag repairman who has little work to do because of such reliable Maytag appliances. We associate Volvo with safety because of branding. The message is that branding works. I just spent two days in Denver, Colorado with an excellent branding specialist, Dick Bruso, to better hone in on a brand that best captures the essence of me. It was a great experience. You’ll hear more about that in coming months. But, the process got me thinking about the brand that each of us convey in our meaningful relationships. When people think of me, Dr. Harold, what comes to their mind? That is my brand. What is your brand?
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a combination of factors that identify the product and differentiate it from other products. We can pretty easily understand how this applies to commercial products.
But, what about your own relational brand? What combination of factors uniquely define you?
During my time with the branding specialist, he asked me how those who know me well describe me. He wanted to know what specific words they would use. I thought about actual words that gracious friends have recently articulated like “hard-working”, “committed”, and “smart”. I appreciate the positive sentiment that friends ascribe to me character. But, capturing one’s relational brand goes beyond describing personality characteristics.
Rather, what words would people use to describe their relationship with me? What images come to their mind? Do they see me as someone who walks alongside them when they are in a time of need? Am I perceived as someone who knows how to listen to their heart in the good and the tough times? Are they left behind in the wake of my busyness? Is my engagement with them consistent with how they see me engage with others?
These are the type of questions that inform your relational branding.
Why is your relational brand important?
Ultimately, it is the same as the reason that branding is important to commercial products. It’s about influence.
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- Featured Presentation: My Vegetarian Breakthrough – Part 2
In Part I, I outlined the six lessons I learned for my own personal development.
In Part II, I address the final final six lessons as well as some spiritual insights I’ve gained.
My big lesson is that “Breakthrough is an attitude.” So, in a very real way my 12 months as a vegetarian was really about my own attitude adjustment.
This adjustment started with three spiritual insights that I have to internalize into my core fabric, not just head knowledge. I’m still working on these. But, I’m trying.
Spiritual Insights for Breakthrough Influence
- Trust wholeheartedly that God is working everything together on my behalf even when I can’t see or feel it
- God is not impressed (or moved) by many of the things that impress me
- The more I do, the less room I leave for God
Resources referenced in this Episode
- John Quincy Adams quote “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
- Zig Ziglar quote, “You can get everything you want in life if you help enough others get what they want.”
- Ancient Chinese proverb, “when the student is ready, the teacher will come”.
- Michael Hyatt book, Platform: How to get noticed in a noisy word (affiliate link)
The Final Six Lessons For Breakthrough
- Lesson #7: Expand Your Platform
- Lesson #8: Give More Away
- Lesson #9: Offer Exceptional Value
- Lesson #10: Follow the Experts
- Lesson #11: Think Like a Business
- Lesson #12: Be the Breakthrough
Blessings on your own efforts to “Be the Breakthrough”. I look forward to hearing about your journey and successes.
I would love to hear your thoughts about these 12 steps. Which one best resonates with you?
How can I pray for your breakthrough?
Ignite Promo: If you’re looking for an opportunity to join with other ministry leaders at a private, intimate 3 day, 2 night retreat that promises to elevate your ministry and your marriage to the next level, visit HaroldArnold.com/ignite to learn more
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