Do You Take the Stairs or the Escalator? A Book Review

Take the Stairs

The brand new mall on the far side of town was bright with lights. We, along with about a thousand other people in our North Indian city, were excited to check it out. The air conditioning alone was worth going there for in our hot, humid city. Another attraction was that this mall had escalators! Many who visited the mall had never been on one before. I enjoyed watching them experience this modern convenience for the first time. Escalators can be a bit scary to get on if you’ve never ridden one before! They are a modern convenience that most of us have gotten pretty used to. We ride them without even thinking much about it. Stairs? Yeah, they exist somewhere in case there is a fire in the building.

Rory Vaden, wrote a book back in 2012 that I must have missed though it was a best seller. Perhaps it was God’s timing that I read it this year. It has relevant principles for missionaries, Christian leaders, and DMM practitioners. Rory, an outspoken Christian, draws principles from his faith in God throughout.

A Metaphor for Doing Hard Things

The title of the book is “Take the Stairs” (as opposed to the escalator). It’s a metaphor for being willing to do the hard things needed to see success. The book challenges us to live a life of self-discipline, focus, and determination. I especially loved the wonderful illustrations and examples.

If you get a chance to read this book and can find it where you live, it’s a worthy read. For those of you with no access to the book, I’ll share here some of the most relevant quotes for our type of work and a few of my takeaways.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.- Hebrews 12:11

In many ways, this book puts an exclamation mark on things I already believe and do my best to practice as a Disciple Making Movement practitioner. We all need fresh energy flowing in to affirm our values, and inspiration to continue to do the things we know we need to do. Getting Started in Disciple Making Movements course, I always start with developing a clear God-sized vision. When we clearly see what could happen as we partner with God to reach our area, as we write it down, and get specific, it helps us focus. And as Rory Vaden says, it gives us the endurance and discipline we need.

Never made an End Vision statement for your disciple-making efforts? Consider taking the course (our whole first module is about this). Or, if you’ve already taken the course, pull that statement out again and re-read it. Get it into your heart and mind again. Revise it if needed. And tape it up on your wall or put it somewhere you’ll see it every day.

  1. The Importance of Focus

On page twelve the book says, “distraction is a dangerously deceptive saboteur of our goals.” In DMM and CPM work it is so very easy to become distracted, isn’t it? We spend our time in meetings, scrolling our phones, or doing a multitude of other things. These don’t lead us toward the dream we actually want to see fulfilled in our region.

On page seventy-seven he writes, “An essential step toward improving our self-discipline is improving our focus. When we have diluted focus, we get diluted results. Another way of looking at it is minimizing the amount of distraction that occurs in life.”

I love Indian chai brewed in these little shops! But boy, I sure don’t want to have it diluted.

Imagine you brewed a nice cup of chai. You poured it out into a cup. Then, you fill a big bucket of water. You then add that cup of chai to the bucket of water and then serve it to your guests. How would it taste? Awful right? That is because it is diluted.

Vaden uses the term priority dilution. It’s the idea that though we may have our stated priorities, we somehow allow other things to take their place in daily activities. For example, we may say that reaching lost people is our top priority and mission. Somehow, though, we get busy with emails, meetings, and lots of other activities. These don’t actually take us forward toward that vision of reaching them. We are experiencing priority dilution. Slowly our priorities are watered down like a nasty cup of tea that has had far too much water added to the cup. You can barely taste it anymore.

Are you experiencing priority dilution in your disciple-making work?

Getting extremely focused is a huge key to seeing acceleration toward disciple multiplication.

  1. How Faith and Action Work Together

On page forty-one he says, “it’s not just about working hard, but also making sacrifices to do the right thing.” Making sacrifices, to do the right thing. When we know that what we are doing is what God has called us to we must sacrifice to put in the effort to actually do those things. We can’t only talk about our vision, but sit inactively.

Starting a Disciple Making Movement requires tremendous sacrifices and great commitment. We must wake up every day ready to engage with the lost. It requires us to discipline ourselves as people of prayer, and follow through with those whom God’s given us to develop as disciples and leaders. There are a lot of easier things we could do with our lives, but little that will have more eternal value.

On page 165, Vaden quotes another successful businessman as saying, “I’ve always had great faith that if I do my best, then things will work out exactly as they are supposed to. Perhaps a difference between me and most people, however, is that I believe that faith is not just sitting around waiting for God to make things happen.”

Some people get confused about this. God is sovereign. Movements definitely will not happen unless God moves and works in the lives of those around us. But we have a role to play. Throughout history, God has chosen to work through His people. Our actions, with His power upon them, transform lives and communities.

That is why at the end of every Discovery Bible Study group, we ask the question, “What will you do to obey what you’ve been learning?” We ask for “I will” statements or “Action Steps.” The next week we report on those things and if we actually took action to do what God had been speaking to us about.

Small Actions Put Us on the Right Path

One important thing about action is that it doesn’t have to be a big action to get us moving in the right direction. Small, consistent actions soon become habits. Those take us far down the road to impacting a few, then a hundred, then thousands of lives around us.

Speaking of action, what will you do this week with what you’ve been learning in this book review? Share in the comments below or on the DMMs Frontier Missions Facebook group.

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