Jesus frequently emphasized the importance of staying connected with Him to produce fruit. In John 15:5-8 Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches.  Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from me you can do nothing… when you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” 

In John 17 beginning in John 17:20, we read that Jesus prayed to God the Father that all disciples will stay connected to the Trinity: “just as you and I are one… may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” Notice that Jesus said “may they be one in us (italics ours).”  We are invited to be one with the Trinity, a community of three in one: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This unity of the Trinity points to a third way to gain strength and courage: stay connected to other believers who are part of the Body of Christ.  

Stay Connected with Christian Community. Throughout the Bible we see the Trinity loving one another (e.g. John 3:35  John 14:31John 16:14John 17:1John 17:20-24).  In Scripture, we also see Christians loving and encouraging one another.  For example, David knew the bond of brotherly love in his 1 Samuel 18:1-4.  We see this in John Wooden’s life, especially in his relationship with his wife. Nell was his high school sweetheart, the only girl he ever dated, and they were married for 53 years before she died in 1985.  When UCLA dedicated its basketball court to Wooden he insisted that Nell be included and that her name appear before his. UCLA agreed and today its basketball teams play in the “Nell and John Wooden Court.”

We also need each other for guidance and to grow in Christlikeness.  Several verses in Proverbs remind us of the wisdom in seeking the Proverbs 12:15.  When others speak truth in love to us, it helps us see our character flaws so that we can pray about overcoming them and ask others to encourage us and hold us accountable in the process.  This is key to developing Christlike character.   

Is God calling you to be a rescuer of the cultures you are in -- your home, neighborhood, church, local schools, workplace, or other places? Pray about it, won’t you?  To follow your calling, be prepared to face adversity, and stay ever connected with the Lord and with Christian community. If you do, God, who David described as his refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble, will comfort and guide you, and provide you with the strength and courage you need to persevere and prevail.     

Jason Pankau and Michael Lee Stallard are co-authors of Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity (Thomas Nelson). Rev. Jason Pankau is president of Life Spring Network, a ministry that helps pastors and church leaders develop holistic, transformational, disciple-making communities, and he is the author of Beyond Self Help: The True Path to Harnessing God’s Wisdom, Realizing Life’s Potential and Living the Abundant Life (Xulon Press).  Michael Lee Stallard is president of E Pluribus Partners, a leadership training, consulting and coaching firm that helps leaders develop “Connection Cultures” that boost productivity, innovation and performance. 

Publication date: August 9, 2012