A Useful Navigation System

Yesterday I spent a full day at one of the most beautiful places you will ever see. For the first time in my life I visited Glenn Eyrie, home of the ministry called the Navigators and Navpress. I was there to meet with a group of leaders related to student ministry across a spectrum from academics like me to those working with camps, in the local local church, and so on.

The Rocky Mountains, the bighorn sheep next to the road, the owl hooting out my window last night,  the herd of mule deer I drove through this morning,  and the buildings — we ate at the Castle, which actually looks like one — only told part of the story. Loving history as I do, I could not help thinking about the ministry of the Navigators and their passion for making disciples coming from their founder Dawson Trotman. His book Born to Reproduce challenged a generation to do more than show up at church on Sunday, but to be intentional reproducing disciple-makers. “God works through men,” he said, adding, “I see no where in Scripture where God picks an organization.” Ironically, it was his passion to disciple one on one that led to the organization known as the Navigators.

This quote has been ringing in my ears today: “Never do anything that someone else can and will do when there is so much of importance to be done which others cannot or will not do.” Leaders reproduce, and leaders do not spend time on things they could impart to others for the good of each.

I owe a personal debt to the Navigators. As a young collegian still trying to figure out life a man named Curtis Tanner picked two other guys with me to disciple. I have no idea why he chose me or how he even knew me. But we spent the next two years going through Navigator material: discipleship manuals, memory verses, etc. It has only been in recent years that I have come to understand what a profound impact those times we met had on my life.

Who are you mentoring? Who is mentoring you? My friend Jeff Borton said something quite profound at Youth Metro, a gathering of megachurch youth pastors I spent time with earlier in the week. Jeff asked the question, “Are you seeking to be discipled or are you seeking to be discovered?” That sounds like the kind of question Daws would ask.

Barry Sneed, an old friend and now executive VP at NavPress said this at the meeting, “As we gather today we stand on the shoulders of great men of God in the past.” I felt the weight of that today. I felt a real sense that we who labor in ministry must fight the temptation to yield to the immediate, but to keep a longer view before us.

We all need a spiritual version of OnStar at least or a GPS at best. We need help navigating these interesting times in which we live. The Navigators remind us of this. Be mentored. Find a mentor. Multiply your ministry.

Shameless plug: I am happy to be writing a book called As You Go: Creating a Missional Culture of Gospel-Centered Students which will be available April 1, 2013, along with some forthcoming ebooks they will publish as well. As I am now writing for NavPress, I rejoice in my God that I can in a small way say thank you for the formative mentoring I received by writing for those who produced the materials so vital to me many years ago. Maybe you too can find someone to thank for their investment in your life.


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  1 Comment

  1. Steve Martin   •  

    Interesting post.

    Keeping Christ central is a difficult task, that’s for sure. Maybe an OnStar would help.

    Praying and hoping that your book does a good work of the Lord.

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